Why it Pays to Reach Out to Prospective Students First

As colleges everywhere struggle with revenue and enrollment goals, the market for new students is more competitive than ever. Prospects are shrinking, competition is rising, and staff is often stretched thin. While a great marketing campaign is the first step toward increasing enrollment, the next step is to respond as quickly as possible to new leads. Learn more about fighting the enrollment crisis in our free eBook!

According to the 2017 Online College Student Report, 61% of students enroll with the first school that contacts them, and 59% of online undergraduate students request info from two or three schools during their research process. These significant findings prove that schools must reply to all inquiries promptly.

“Speed to lead” is a term that refers to how quickly an enrollment counselor contacts a prospective student after an inquiry. It is important to look beyond automated emails and landing pages of general information. Most schools use automated systems to give prospects immediate responses. This is a crucial point of contact, but it typically is not enough to secure a lead. When enrollment counselors respond personally, they give students the chance to ask questions while offering them a positive and personal interaction with the school. This engagement moves students forward through the enrollment process, encouraging them to apply and enroll.

When implementing a response plan, it’s important to know exactly what information students want. It usually comes down to degree options, costs, and financial aid opportunities. In fact, 47% of students said that they want their financial aid information before they apply, so if they get good information from another school first, your institution’s chances with them get much slimmer.

College decisions are stressful. For many students, the decision process doesn’t leave much time for a slow “speed to lead.” Sixty-two percent of online students applied to a school within four weeks of beginning their search. A vast majority of them use their mobile devices for some or most of their college research, which allows schools to respond in real time and speed up the decision process even more.

While increasing your “speed to lead” may sound daunting, it’s crucial for institutions to respond to every inquiry with urgency. The faster you respond, the more likely you are to convert leads to enrollments. Students, especially those looking for online programs, have countless college options—get to them first!