4 min read

Why You Need More than an Admissions Funnel Template

Why You Need More than an Admissions Funnel Template

Google is the undisputed leader in online search engine and advertising marketing. However, some of the digital marketing tips purported to be education marketing gold can leave your school's marketing efforts feeling like a woefully unlucky bunch. 

Take, for example, ideas on how to set up an effective admissions enrollment funnel. Most sales funnels run by the same script: 

  • Everyone looking for education products follows a particular path, 
  • you can segment that path into different stages, 
  • and then successfully see a prospect move from awareness to enrollment. 

The problem with this strategy is it is bound to fail because the information superhighway keeps getting better at keeping consumers informed. And that doesn't mean they are savvy about everything; it means they have the power to change their purchase behaviors as much as they change their clothes, and loyalty to a brand is not guaranteed.

While it's true you need an admissions process to work with, the textbook sales funnel doesn't work for education. Let's dive into what makes an ideal template and why the traditional funnel doesn't work.

The Buyer's Journey is not Linear

HBR says that the modern prospect doesn't just enter at the top of the funnel but instead enters at any stage, often jumps stages, stays in a stage indefinitely, or moves back and forth between them.

Think about the typical higher education prospect in the Millennial or Gen Z age groups. Before they consider enrolling in your school, they've read tons of reviews, visited your website, and learned what you're all about before weighing it against their needs and forming an opinion about you. 

If they like your school and consider sending an application, they jump through the awareness stage and go right into the consideration stage. If the prospect reconsiders their decision, they stall at the consideration stage. 

The Admissions Funnel Template has Multiple Friction Points

Recent research set out to find out why retention and enrollment rates at a large university with an employee-student ratio of 1:1 were poor. Researchers found a big friction point: the stage from inquiry to enrollment had a mind-boggling 122 steps to go through. 

Another friction point with textbook admissions funnel templates is providing tons of information to help prospective students understand their choices. First, too much information is burdensome. Secondly, access to information does not negate the fact they may not understand their options or particular needs. This makes the info of little use unless there's a way to guide the student to comprehend it in an easily digestible manner. 

The Traditional Admissions Funnel Fails to Incorporate Effective Communication

The traditional admissions funnel process runs on a script that goes something like this: speak on the phone, schedule an appointment, and meet with an admissions representative. 

This previously heavy-used standard in admissions departments attempts to sell the school during this process, highlighting advantages that the prospects stand to gain. 

There's also an undue emphasis on communication to fill the top-of-funnel prospect and inquiry stages. The pitfall with this approach is that it's easy to sound like a salesperson who needs a quick sale without regard for the audience's needs. 

And the fact is, the current demographic from Gen X to Z has a list of how they want to be approached: 

  • They want personalized messages
  • They don't want to feel like commodities that need to be sold
  • They expect customization rather than a one-fits-all approach
  • They don't wish to communicate by phone
  • They want round-the-clock instant responses 
  • They prefer tech and mobile devices to paper
  • They don't wish to have in-person appointments
  • They want authenticity and not marketing tactics

In a nutshell, a mindful admissions funnel will take you further than an outdated template or script. Plus, each prospect has their way of going from inquiry to enrollment, and you can't control which will be their first or last step. Also, communication through the funnel is not a one-and-done event but a process, with each stage demanding a different way of communicating.

And because it's doubtful that your school has the exact marketing needs all the time or the same needs as other schools, you need to put your needs first. Therefore, the best strategy for your education marketing is to create a funnel specific to your school and an education marketing agency can help you customize it to your needs.

Sonority Group begins with an admissions funnel template (the six stages of admissions) designed with the modern student in mind. We also work with you to tailor it to the exact needs of your school or institution. Here's what each stage entails:


  1. Prospects: Prospects include the students from your database who are name buys from different sources such as College Board and ETS.
  2. Inquiries: These leads have expressed interest in you through your website, college fairs, and other sources and want to hear more about you.
  3. Applicants: This group includes leads that have handed in their application and subdivides further into incomplete applicants who've not met all requirements and complete applicants who've completed the process and just waiting for admission. 
  4. Accepted students: Accepted students are the ones you've officially admitted but have not yet committed to studying at your school.
  5. Committed students: These students are also called deposited students. They are not only admitted but have paid their tuition deposit or said they'll attend your school.
  6. Enrolled students: This is the last stage of the funnel. A lead at this point has done everything required of them and registered for classes. 

These stages align with the prospects rather than forcing them to align with your admissions recruitment funnel. We also pair this funnel with cutting-edge marketing technology to send curated messages and simplify marketing metrics collection.

Work With the Sonority Group

Beyond the admissions funnel template, Sonority Group is your school's ticket to education marketing that's sure to increase enrollments and promote retention. 

Our strategies are designed to create opportunities in education marketing and fan growth for your school. We're with you for every milestone, leveraging decades of experience to ensure you meet and exceed your enrollment goals. Let's chat!

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