How to use marketing automation to attract students? – WAU

Betting on marketing automation tools to turn leads into students can be a great solution for your educational institution. Want to know how to do this? Then read this post!

If you asked the marketing director of an educational institution about your strategy 15 years ago, he would probably tell you something like this:

“Our efforts are almost exclusively based on brand awareness; we don’t need to do much more than that for students to come to us. ”

Anyone who works with educational marketing today knows this strategy is far from enough: with increasing competition, educational institutions now need to find new ways to stand out from the crowd and attract students.

Furthermore, with the advancement of the internet, the power of choice is entirely in the hands of students.

All the information he needs to make his decision is just a click away, and he can also go to forums, websites and blogs to find out if his institution really is the best for him.

In other words: you will need (well) more than one billboard to guarantee a registration.

In this scenario, the inbound methodology fits like a glove for marketing professionals in the area: instead of trying to convince potential students to study at your institution, how about providing content to help them through the process?

I’m not going to focus too much on the inbound issue here (you can read everything about it in this post), but what you need to know is this: having an inbound strategy means generating many leads and converting some of them into students.

And it is precisely to do this that you need marketing automation.

In this content you will know the main benefits of this automation and learn to use it to your advantage to win many new students!

The pillars of automation for educational marketing

A quick view for those working with educational marketing is to consider automation as the set of tools that enable the creation of a machine that not only captures students, but also converts them into real enrollments.

The second part is the most important: after all, having names and e-mails in your database does not mean much, does it?

So, to have an automation machine that truly manages students, you will need a few things:

Clear notion and knowledge of the persona and his shopping journey

In order not to fall for having many disqualified leads in your base, you need to know exactly who your ideal student is, that is, your persona.

How old are your current students? Where are they from? What do they hope to gain from the course you offer? What made you choose them over another school or college?

Knowing in depth the student profile you want to achieve is the first step towards a successful automation strategy.

(If you haven’t already done so or want to refine your definition of a persona, start with reading best practices for building buyer personas.)

After scoring who your ideal student is, it’s time to understand the steps that led you to enrollment, that is, outline your shopping journey.

Many educational marketers are wrong to think that, for education, the journey is standard.

The great challenge of the student shopping journey is to understand exactly what is so special about your institution that it generated an enrollment.

If your greatest advantage is an exchange program, for example, the stages of your journey will be very different from those of a college focused on local internships.

Quality content for all stages of the shopping journey

Having a well-defined shopping journey means very little if you don’t have the content to fill it.

Once you understand the student’s doubts and concerns throughout the enrollment process, it’s time to produce content that supports and educates you at each stage.

A content strategy for educational institutions is the fuel for their machine to capture and generate students.

And speaking of content, it is important to note that you will often invest time and money producing content that are not going to talk about your institution: if your students have doubts about the job market, for example, it is your role to resolve them.

Remember that content should be used, first of all, to show authority and create a relationship with your future students.

Would you study at an institution you don’t trust?

Smart tactics to segment your leads (early on)

Many schools and colleges do not see results in their strategies as they end up generating many leads and fail to convert them into real students.

To prevent this from happening, the tip is to think from the beginning of the information that will show you how “fit” that lead is for your institution and at what time it is on your shopping journey.

Unyleya College, for example, asks future blog subscribers if they are looking for undergraduate or graduate content:

It may sound silly but this type of information will make all the difference in lead nutrition, which will be the heart of your automation strategy.

(Warning: be careful not to ask your leads too much at once; remember that no one likes long forms! Tools like HubSpot’s progressive profiling help you discover more and more about your contacts as they they download new materials that you put on the air.)

Lead nurturing: where the magic happens

Once you’ve captured leads and have enough information to know what they’re looking for, it’s time to nurture them until they’re ready to sign up for your courses or request a contact from your team.

Lead nurturing is nothing more than the process used to deliver the right content at the right time to your contacts, helping them to complete all stages of their shopping journey.

The big secret here is personalization: you must use the information provided by leads to nurture them differently.

As an example, let’s assume that you are a college that offers undergraduate and graduate courses.

When talking to your current students, you discover that a great attraction for your institution is the exchange program and, therefore, you decide to write an eBook on how to exchange during college.

In the form for downloading this material, you can ask two questions:

  • Do you intend to do an undergraduate or graduate degree?
  • Which continent would you like to study on?

Based on the answers to these questions, you can now nurture your leads in a very personalized way, agree? The idea is to segment your leads into interest groups (example: you want to graduate and study in Europe, you want to graduate and study in Asia, etc.) and create nutrition flows for each one.

lead generation kit

Lead scoring: learn how to identify (and prioritize) leads better prepared for enrollment

You have a complete campaign running for Vestibular 2018 and generated a total of more than 5,000 leads. These leads came from different eBooks and materials and filled out different forms.

The problem is that your sales team can only contact 1,000 of them. And now?

When we are working with a high volume of opportunities, it is necessary to prioritize the contacts that are most ready for enrollment. And that is where lead scoring comes into your strategy.

This tactic allows you to identify more qualified leads from a customized scoring system; that is, you yourself indicate the information that makes a student more fit and better prepared to start a course.

Let’s assume that your university only has courses in Belo Horizonte. In this case, you can configure your lead scoring in order to assign more points to contacts from Minas Gerais than contacts who are in Rio Grande do Sul.

On the other hand, if your university only has distance learning courses, a more qualified lead may be the one who said he wants to study in the next 6 months, for example.

The coolest part about lead scoring is that it doesn’t just consider the information provided in forms: you can also use user behavior data in your qualification.

With lead tracking installed on your site, you can track the pages visited and even the amount of material downloads from a lead.

Do you agree that someone who visited your funding page is more ready to talk about enrollment than someone who just downloaded a few eBooks on your blog? Yeah; lead scoring will show you exactly who these contacts are.

The icing on the cake: integration between marketing and sales!

Have you ever talked to a salesperson who seemed to fully understand your needs and knew everything about your interests? If so, wasn’t it a much better experience?

Yes, this type of consultative approach can work wonders, especially when buying your product means making a significant investment – as is the case in education, as a rule.

To do this, you need to provide your salespeople with all possible information about the prospect and their shopping journey.

Good automation software allows you to do not only that: it integrates all marketing intelligence into your sales processes, integrating them in order to increase (and a lot!) The productivity and performance of your team.

How to choose a tool?

If you don’t know much about marketing automation, the above topics must have seemed a little complicated and complex, right?

Well, not so much. Depending on the software used, your automation strategy can be configured in a very simple way, leaving you with only the responsibility to analyze your results and optimize your strategy from time to time.

But how to choose the ideal automation tool?

This is a very valid question, mainly because the market is full of options.

At the end of the day, the truth is that your choice will depend on your need for use: how many contacts you will have circulating in your strategy, how complex your nutrition rule is and how you will integrate your entire marketing strategy with your sales strategy .

But, for you to see in practice the results that some institutions are having with different software, I separated 2 cases from the market below:

  • Faculdade Unyleya used Hubspot in partnership with Websites Are Us to accelerate its process of attracting students. The result? An estimated ROI of 881% in less than a year of partnership. Understand in depth how this was possible using content and marketing automation in this post.
  • Impacta, in turn, used RD Station to better understand their personas and personalize the message with them. Using marketing automation, today they convert about 80% of opportunities into students! This post explains in depth how they did it.


In this post I tried to show you the importance (and the potential) of marketing automation for the digital strategy of your HEI.

I hope that reading has helped you to better understand how this type of software can help convert opportunities into students, and maximize the success of your institution.

But a note should be made here: it is useless to have the best automation tool on the market if you don’t have quality fuel – or content -.

If you want to know more about how to produce content suitable for your automation strategy, be sure to check out our complete material on applying Content Marketing in Educational Institutions!