Attracting new students through marketing strategies – complete guide – WAU
Understand what are the best marketing strategies for attracting new students and how to put them into practice in your educational institution.
For you who are going to read this article, it may seem repetitive, but, after acting as a specialist in attracting students in the education segment, I realized that the London Educational Institutions (IE) invest a significant budgetary amount for fundraising in several actions, which may include:
- offline actions (traditional media, outdoor, backbus, radio, TV and events);
- paid ads on Google (Google Ads);
- paid ads on social networks (Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn Ads);
- Content Marketing (Inbound, blog, organic, social);
- email marketing (automation, nutrition flows, newsletter).
All of these actions are known by the marketing teams, however, what I see most are IE that do not diversify their acquisition channel strategy, concentrating a large part of their budgetary budget on offline actions.
According to the Edu Trends 2016, offline continues to play a major role in this sector, as almost 67% of the survey respondents’ IE use this medium as the main acquisition channel.
The most impressive thing is that most of the available money goes to the manufacture of pamphlets in printing. No, it is not a lie: IE spend most of their budget on paper!
In this article, you will understand how to use an omnichannel strategy to achieve more results in attracting students for enrollment and enrollment.
For this, we will show that it is necessary to diversify your investment in acquisition channels, whose measurement of results is tangible, clear and pragmatic, in addition to understanding the quality of each channel and its efficiency in attracting potential students and the consequent conversion into subscribers and enrolled.
In this step by step of attracting new students to Educational Institutions, we will teach you, among other topics:
- the basic concept of attracting students;
- how to build your persona;
- how the sales funnel in the educational segment works;
- which strategies to use to diversify its funding channels;
- how to measure your ROI;
- how to understand when marketing work ends and sales work begins;
- how to define your SLA.
What is attracting new students?
In a very simple way, attracting students is the structuring of planned marketing and sales strategies, carried out by an Educational Institution in order to attract potential students and convert them into enrolled and enrolled students.
The change in attracting new students
For a long time, IE worked with offline acquisition. But, with the arrival of the internet, most of the IE just replicated in the online what was done offline, working mainly with ads, AdWords and paid media on social networks.
It turns out that the student’s behavior has changed, and the choice of a school for the children or a higher education or specialization course goes through a more complex path.
Today, potential students begin to research career possibilities and institutions that can serve them long before they arrive at the secretariat and enroll.
HubSpot pointed out, in a 2018 survey, that 7 out of 10 people do an online search as the first interaction with brands and products, that is, before reaching a seller and making a decision.
At this point, I ask you: why do IE invest more than half of their budget in offline strategies if the public is online?
Another point that has been influencing the market a lot is the increase in competition. The latest censuses of education in London – both in Higher Education and in School Education – carried out by Inep pointed to the existence of more than 180 thousand Basic, Elementary and Secondary Education Institutions, and more than 2,400 of Higher Education.
It is an increasingly competitive market! This also implies that all these IE are practicing offline and online marketing actions and strategies, seeking the same spaces and, often, the same audience.
Another aspect that directly impacted the sector, especially Higher Education, was the fact that several Education Institutions linked their results to Prouni and Fies. What do you mean, Luciano?
However, for years these public policies were responsible for guaranteeing a significant portion of enrollments offered in private education, which facilitated the acquisition of students for many institutions.
With the drop in funding programs, these institutions no longer rely on these enrollments and are now looking for new ways to maintain that result.
All these changes in the education market require companies to adapt their model for attracting students, and marketing and sales have become increasingly important guidelines.
For those who want to improve their sales and enrollment results, the first step – and one that will guide the entire strategy – is to understand who their ideal customer is.
Who is the persona of your educational institution?
Persona is the ideal representation of the audience that your IE wants to capture. It is that person who generates profits / results for his institution by means of a registration.
She has several problems, doubts and pains that are related to the education product and that can be solved by her institution.
The idea of having a persona is to be able to deepen the knowledge of your target audience, exposing the person behind the numbers. Putting a face on your audience will help you understand how to make your strategies more personal and effective.
Each company has its own personas, after all, it offers its own service. It is up to your IE to understand and build your own persona, which will be extremely important in all stages of a strategy to attract students. Let’s understand a little bit about the differences between personas according to the type of institution.
The types of educational institution in the London market
In the educational market, there are 3 types of IE. Are they:
- Basic Education Institutions: Child, Elementary and High School;
- Higher Education Institutions: Undergraduate, Graduate, Master and Doctorate;
- Institutions of free, technical and professional qualification courses: coaching schools, technical courses, free courses, training courses etc.
Persona characteristics of each IE profile
Basic Education Institutions
This persona will usually be the parent, guardian of your potential student. Their pains reside in the options of structure, curriculum, teaching methodology, well-being during the school period, didactic material, uniform options, educational sequence from one level of education to another, in addition to values.
Higher education institutions
This persona is represented by a diverse range of social profiles, however, the most common is the young student, studying or about to graduate from high school.
His pains lie in career doubts, possibilities of performance and monetary gain, positions that his area reserves in the job market, Enem, among others.
Postgraduate, Master or Doctorate Institutions
A variation of higher education whose persona resides in the professional class who wants a higher qualification, specialization or academic status in their area.
Their doubts and interests are related to the scientific potential of the chosen area, the knowledge necessary to obtain such a title, the financial advantages of continuing their studies, the areas of expertise, among others.
Free Education Institutions
This is certainly the area in which we can have more profiles, which can vary from professionals already trained who are looking for more qualification, young people who are looking for a technical apprenticeship to start their career in the job market, to professionals who are looking for constant updates in specific areas.
Their pains are equally diverse, but they will always include the benefits of qualification for their career, the possibilities for growth in monetary gain, the opening of new areas for a desired future position, among other aspects.
Remember that these are just points that each IE profile usually has in common. The definition of the persona depends on a much more detailed immersion of who your audience is, with demographic, behavioral and group data.
At this point, it should be noted that each institution has a different brand positioning, each persona will require a specific text style, tone, voice and language, and the most qualified team to plan these details is your internal team.
She deals with this persona every day, whether in front of sales or in the marketing strategy for attracting students.
The most important thing is to understand that, when looking at their active student base, Educational Institutions find exactly the persona they are looking to capture!
The following link takes you to our Personas Generator, which will be very useful to help you in the complete construction of the ideal persona for your institution and, in this way, improve your result of attracting students.
The fantastic Personas Generator
Click here to build your persona
How is your educational institution’s sales funnel?
Regardless of the profile of your educational institution, it is essential to structure the path that your potential student takes, from the moment he recognizes that he has a problem (that his EI solves) until the moment of enrollment.
This must be done in clear steps, using the concept of a Shopping Journey – which is also called, in marketing, the Marketing or Sales Funnel.
The importance of the sales funnel for any customer acquisition strategy
The marketing / sales funnel is fundamental to any student acquisition strategy for two reasons.
First of all, it allows your team to know exactly at what point in the journey your potential student is, that is, how close to the purchase decision he is.
Today it is possible, with the use of tools, to map exactly each step that your audience takes while on your website or blog.
This works like digital footprints, showing how much the visitor interacts with your materials and your pages.
The second reason is that understanding your funnel allows your EI to be present at all times of this journey, strategically positioning yourself at each stage.
It is possible to answer the main doubts and questions of the persona, help your audience in all phases of purchase, map the stages in which you miss the most opportunities and act on them.
The more your EI participates in the stages of the student’s purchase journey, the more chances it will have to be remembered at the time of decision.
Setting up your school’s sales funnel
Each Educational Institution will have its own marketing funnel, in which the conversions of its potential student into lead, pre-enrolled, enrolled, MQL or enrolled are mapped, clearly defining the role of its marketing and sales team at each stage.
The number of steps in each funnel varies widely, but the important thing is that each of them has a clear definition. This will help you understand what actions your institution wants the potential student to take at each stage of the funnel.
Example of a traditional 3-step marketing funnel
Top of the funnel / visitor
This is the moment of discovery, when your persona understood that he has a problem and that he needs to understand it better to think of a solution.
At the top of the funnel you generate visitors, that is, people who arrive at your website or blog but do not take any action, do not download any material and do not sign up for your newsletter.
Middle of the funnel / lead
This is the moment when your persona starts looking for solution options for her problem.
In addition, it is more willing to provide personal data for your company in exchange for some information relevant to solving its problem.
In the middle of the funnel we are still not talking about subscribers, but those people who download some material, fill out a landing page or sign up for their newsletter launch.
Funnel Fund / MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead)
At the bottom of the funnel your persona is much closer to the moment of decision making, but there are still a few steps to really decide to enroll in your selection process.
MQL is that person who has already shown a genuine interest in understanding your IE solutions, either by downloading some material from your institution that contains information about a specific course, or by requesting a direct contact with your relationship team (by telemarketing, central call center, customer service or sales).
It is worth making it clear that all educational institutions should fit the points of the funnel presented so far, but, from the 3rd stage on, the profiles start to differentiate.
Let’s understand why.
Basic Education Institution Funnel from the 3rd stage
- MQL: is the lead who has shown a genuine interest in registering your child in your institution (asked to speak with you, filled out a landing page with rich material, wants to schedule a visit etc.);
- visit scheduling: is the qualified lead that your service team contacted to schedule a guided tour;
- made the visit: it is a qualified lead who visited your school;
- enrolled: a qualified lead who enrolled your child in your school.
Funnel of the Higher Education Institution from the 3rd stage
- MQL: is the lead who has shown a genuine interest in enrolling in your institution (asked to speak with you, filled out a landing page with rich material);
- Enrolled: it is a qualified lead who enrolled in your selection process;
- evaluated: is the enrollee who participated in his selection process;
- approved / summoned: is the registrant who has been approved and summoned to enroll;
- enrolled: is the approved / summoned who enrolled in your IE.
Funnel of the Free Education Institution
- MQL: is the lead who has shown a genuine interest in enrolling in your institution (asked to speak to you, filled out a landing page with rich material, wants to increase your knowledge in a specific area);
- sales / negotiation: it is when your sales team initiates the personalized contact and enters into the negotiation process with the qualified lead;
- enrolled: is the qualified lead that your sales team converted to enrolled.
From our experience here at WAU, we have seen losses ranging from 40% to 60% between enrolled and enrolled. They are mainly due to bottlenecks in sales and relationship rules, which many IE fail to apply in the sales funnel.
What is SLA, the agreement between marketing and sales?
The term SLA stands for Service Level Agreement, or, in London, Service Level Agreement.
But what does this represent and what are the benefits of creating an SLA between marketing and sales?
This agreement is signed by two or more areas of the company in order to achieve better results.
In summary, the SLA guarantees that the departments are aligned with the same objectives, that the expectations of results are realistic and that the division of tasks to achieve this objective is well distributed among the areas involved in the agreement.
Among the most interesting benefits of the SLA are:
- alignment of objectives: goals to be met with clarity and deadlines agreed between departments. When departments have the same goal, it is easier to seek the common target;
- focus on the right activities: each sector involved in the agreement is able to have the exact dimension of which tasks should receive the focus of the activity, helping to maintain concentration on the tasks that are most important and increasing the quality in specific deliveries;
- ease of measuring efforts: with so many results analysis tools, it is relatively easy to measure agreed efforts, with detailed performance reports to assist in strategic decision making;
- process efficiency: with frequent communication between the areas involved, it is possible to define changes and implement new processes more quickly, thus, the agreement can be fulfilled with greater efficiency.
Here’s a step-by-step summary for creating an effective SLA between marketing and sales:
- establish SMART objectives for the business;
- define the performance limits of each team;
- document and store information in an environment common to teams;
- maintain frequent communication between the teams involved in the agreement;
- monitor, measure and analyze KPIs constantly;
- use the PDCA method to increase the efficiency of the agreement.
What is the best strategy to attract new students?
Here at Websites Are Us, we believe in the omnichannel strategy, that is, in capturing in several different channels. We know the power of Digital Marketing and Inbound as capture strategies, however, in your Educational Institution you can find other ways that make sense.
The important thing is to understand that there are different models of strategies:
- strategies that take time, but guarantee scalable and predictable results, such as the Content Marketing;
- strategies based on paid ad campaigns, such as the Google Ads, which bring results more quickly, but stop showing as soon as you stop investing;
- strategies that have low cost and excellent ROI, such as e-mail marketing, but that take time to build a solid and reliable base of contacts.
Another type of strategy widely used by IE is offline marketing, especially by institutions that operate locally or regionally, such as a city or region in a state.
These actions are for brand visibility, have a higher cost and make it more difficult to measure results.
The strategy that your IE should use depends on your resources and, most importantly, your goals. Regardless of the strategy used, you will need to have well-defined steps, with the actions you expect your audience to take.
What’s more, you will need to have clear metrics for measuring success, both for strategy and for each different channel that is used to attract students.
Let’s talk a little about each type of strategy and what is the best option for your company, but first, you need to understand how to validate any funding channel.
The main indicator that your team should use to choose the channel and the strategy that will be used is ROI (Return on Investment). It is through this calculation that your IE will know how much you are gaining or losing with each investment made.
For online strategies, there is Google Analytics, which shows all the measurement of your digital channels.
Your IE can also use other tools to further assist this measurement, such as HubSpot, RD Station, LeadLovers, among others.
In the offline channel, you will have to be very creative to build a smart and effective way to measure your return, after all, there are no concrete ways to obtain such numbers.
How to know how many customers were obtained with a billboard, pamphlets, television, among other channels?
A good suggestion is to have different phone numbers for different pieces and actions, so it is possible to know which billboard generated that lead, as well as which groups of pamphlets and other traditional media were responsible for the capture.
An important piece of content to understand about traditional media is the article:
The pros and cons of traditional media
Offline or Online
Regarding the channel that your educational institution will choose to apply the funding strategies, there is no preferential one.
As stated, each company will identify the best channel in terms of return and effort, whether online or offline.
For example, for an IE that works with distance education, choosing online channels may make more sense. After all, you are already dealing with the public in the same environment where the courses are given.
For schools and colleges that operate locally and in person, investing heavily in Digital Marketing may not have the same effects of local positioning as an offline strategy.
Below are some examples of off and online strategies.
Examples of offline strategies
- Events (fairs, specialized fairs, school events, events offered by city halls, etc.);
- private partnerships;
- public partnerships;
- television advertisements;
- radio advertisements;
- printed newspaper ads;
- print magazine ads;
- high impact media;
The advantages of the offline strategy lie mainly in the evidence of the brand in front of the public and in the strong branding that can be built, with the possibility of a very direct and concise communication with the target audience.
There are disadvantages too, and the first one I call “ad addiction”. I talk to IE marketing managers every day and I’ve heard things like this several times: “My director needs to see our campaign billboard on his way to work, so he is happy!”.
Unfortunately, this is a reality in the segment, which is very accustomed to investing in offline campaigns.
Don’t make ads to please your director’s eyes: do them to put money in his pocket. That’s what will make you really happy, I can guarantee.
Measuring the ROI of offline student recruitment strategies is difficult to measure, and they can raise your CAC a lot if your team is unable to determine well-defined KPIs and metrics – and, honestly, we do marketing to generate recruitment results. There is nothing that pleases an IE director more than good enrollment numbers.
Examples of online strategies
- Content Marketing: blogs, ebooks, infographics, webinars, videos;
- email marketing: newsletters, lead nutrition flows.
Digital Marketing is a great path to success in attracting students to any educational institution.
Firstly, because it is possible to establish clear metrics and know exactly how much your penny has brought in return.
Second, because the reach of communication is much more comprehensive, allowing your IE to reach places that were previously not accessible only by capturing offline.
The major difficulties in executing online fundraising strategies are: lack of team expertise, lack of time due to accumulation of tasks, lack of manpower for execution and failures in measuring results.
Despite this, there are no disadvantages to doing Digital Marketing, therefore, we will focus on online fundraising strategies through this medium.
The process of attracting students begins with prospecting for opportunities. Outbound Marketing is the oldest way to prospect customers within the market and is considered an active way to reach your potential student.
Outbound seeks to identify and reach those who have the potential to become students, while Inbound creates mechanisms to attract potential customers.
One of the positive points of Outbound is getting ROI faster, after all, it engages the audience immediately.
Strategies like Inbound take longer to generate results, since they depend on performance in SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Another advantage is that Outbound is easily measurable in terms of results with the use of data analysis tools. With this, your team can prove its guidelines and its strategic decisions can be better based.
Personalized communication with your prospect can also be seen as an advantage, since Outbound campaigns are extremely segmented and focused on the audience that really has the ideal profile for your company, which has a direct impact on conversion rate of your sales team.
Because it is a method that looks for opportunities, Outbound can be considered invasive. Even when segmenting your audience is done very carefully, there will always be people who are not interested in your IE.
This alienates your potential student and causes a certain level of rejection, after all, no consumer likes to receive calls and emails that he did not ask for and to have to consume ads that have no relevance.
Here are some examples of Outbound strategies:
- offline: television, radio, newspaper and magazine ads;
- online: paid ads on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads and LinkedIn Ads.
To generate quick and effective results, the most used resource is the ads.
You may have noticed that the main examples of Outbound strategies focus on ads – which are also called performance media.
The ad, whether on social networks or on Google, serves to generate quick results regardless of the organic reach of your website and social profile, in addition to being an excellent option if you need to appear on Google searches or on the timeline of the people you want reach.
So that you can understand exactly what I’m talking about, read this article that explains how the social networking algorithm works.
Ads are one of the main ways of monetizing such platforms, so this link is increasing.
Anyway, if you use the ad strategy, it is very important to know your competitors and how they use this channel, map your cost to receive clicks and plan all your campaigns using well-defined metrics.
If you want to diversify your strategy for attracting students, chances are you want to know and understand Inbound, a strategic alternative to generate more enrollment results.