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Education Lead Generation: Why It’s Pivotal to Your Success

Education Lead Generation: Why It’s Pivotal to Your Success

Generally speaking, education marketing strategies tend to be slow-moving. While other industries thrive on rapid innovation and iteration to get their messaging to their core audiences, admissions and communications offices struggle to build on existing means of recruitment. This can range from purchasing SAT names to visiting college fairs. 

None of these tactics, of course, are bad. They can still be effective, but a recruitment strategy that doesn't include more modern means of generating interest and enrollment tends to be incomplete.

Enter lead generation, a marketing strategy that has revolutionized the way potential students express their interest in a college. Let's dive in. 

Just the Basics: What is a Lead?

At its most basic, a lead is "any person who indicates interest in a company's product or service in some way, shape, or form." This is not a new concept in higher education, of course. In this industry, leads can be:

  • Inquiries from the institution's website.
  • Prospects who have filled out a "learn more" card at a high school visit or college fair.
  • Students and families who have registered for an on-campus visit or event.
  • And more.

Basically, any member of your core audience who raises their hand to say that they are interested in learning more about your institution is a lead. 

Education lead generation, then, focuses on exactly how colleges and universities can build a more comprehensive strategy around building and capturing that interest. Lead generation exists in a wide range of industries, so many of the key terms you'll find are not specific to prospective students. 

Each of these leads has different characteristics, demographics, and needs. Thoughtful education lead generation strategies ensure that each of them receives enough relevant follow-ups to move them to the next stage, and bolster your enrollment.

The Rising Importance of Lead Generation in College and University Marketing

At its core, the case for higher education lead generation is straightforward. If you can get more people interested in your college or university, and offer more relevant follow-ups to their needs, your enrollment funnel will be more successful. The deeper reasons behind the importance of lead generation go into modern student preferences and behaviors.

Every college needs a database of prospective students to market to. Traditionally, that database has come from a mixture of purchasing names of participants in SATs or other standardized tests, high school students filling out inquiry cards at college fairs, and event registrants who simply found your school through a Google search.

However, that game has changed (especially since the emergence of COVID19). The number of students taking standardized tests has decreased for the past two years, college fairs are experiencing fewer visitors, and campus visits are seeing lower numbers as well. A more comprehensive strategy to gain your audience's attention and interest, using strategies like search engine marketing, social media marketing, and more, has become increasingly essential.

In addition, surveys and studies continue to find that students and their families increasingly prefer a self-service model of their college search. They seek out the information they want and expect follow-ups from the school only when they specifically request them. An effective lead generation strategy adjusts for that preference, building a more relevant recruitment funnel in the process.

Finally, moving towards more organic means of generating leads can be a significant budget saver. Because printed communications only get sent to actual hand-raisers, colleges can save on printing and mailing costs to a population who may have never been interested in your institution, to begin with.

The Outlines of an Effective Lead Generation Strategy

Lead generation, as a whole and for education specifically, follows an inbound marketing philosophy. In other words, it trusts that rather than pushing out potentially irrelevant materials to prospective students, content that is interesting and relevant enough will pull those students in, causing them to voluntarily raise their hands for follow-ups.

A lead generation strategy, as a result, follows four basic steps to accomplish that goal:

  1. Attracting strangers to your website through relevant content, search engine optimization, and social media outreach.
  2. Converting these new website visitors to quality leads through landing pages, forms, and calls to action. A free virtual tour or college checklist, accessible through a sign-up form, is a perfect example.
  3. Closing new leads through relevant follow-ups through email, phone, and other channels. Automated workflows ensure that the right type of lead receives the right type of content.
  4. Delighting newly registered students with an experience that goes above and beyond what they would expect, from admitted student days to orientation.

In other words, lead generation centers around relevance and added value. If you can give your prospective students and their families exactly what they're looking for, on the channels where they spend their time, it can help you create a well-functioning and optimized enrollment funnel that continues to bring in interested prospects, applications, and students.

Ready to Elevate Your Higher Education Lead Generation Efforts?

Of course, this is just a high-level overview of the complex concept that is lead generation in higher education. Its benefits are undeniable, but getting there requires some work. Fortunately, you're not on your own. 

If you're ready to talk more about the potential advantages and applications of lead generation in your institution, let's chat!

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