When he’s not acting as Sales Manager for our US office, Jamie can usually be found trying his luck on the Colorado ski slopes (with mixed success).
It’s no secret that we’re big believers in creating and nurturing relationships with prospective parents. Having effective and open relationships with parents has a large number of benefits. First, it helps you to increase the number of quality enrolment applications that you receive. Second, it creates an open communication channel where you may receive valuable feedback, positive word-of-mouth testimonials or potential future enrolments for siblings and other family members.
The challenge comes when you have to execute relationship-building in a way that is easily manageable and valuable to both your school and the parents. That's why we put together this brief guide to make building and managing relationships easy and effective.
Personas are fictional character profiles that your school can use to represent the different audience segments that interact with your school. Personas are based on the data that you can find in your school customer relationship manager (CRM), and often include detail such as their demographics, location, interests, core values and preferred methods of communication. You can make the personas feel more real by giving them a name and including a photo in your description.
Personas are helpful for a few different reasons. Once you know which persona you're talking to (for example, Browsing Brendan vs. Engaged Alumnus Amy), you can tailor your communications to meet their needs, motivations and interests. You can then segment your marketing list to ensure you're not spamming them with irrelevant information. Prospective families who only receive information that's important to them will feel seen and heard and yes... nurtured.
If you want to get even more personal with your prospective families, you will need to tailor your communications to their child. For example, once you've found out the child’s age, you can let them know about particular programs they would be able to participate in at their year level. The best way to do this is to gather key information about the child as early as possible.
Once again, having a school CRM is really helpful for this, as it allows you to transfer information from forms on your website directly into a central system, storing the information and notifying your registrar or relevant team member. You can also manually enter any information you gather from in-person or phone conversations as well.
Now that you have a wealth of information about the prospective family and their child, put it to work by sending them quality information about your school. Space out your communications — no one likes to be bombarded! — but remember that there are likely a number of Browsing Brendans who enquired about your school and promptly forgot. It's time to remind them!
Effective lead nurturing means understanding which stage of the enrolment customer journey that the family is in, and nudging them towards the next stage. If they are in the awareness stage, provide prospective families with helpful top-of-funnel content, such as a step-by-step guide to enrolment. This content isn't a hard sell, so keep it focused on providing value to the parent to keep them engaged and move them to the next stage: consideration.
If the parents are in the consideration stage of the process, you can nudge them towards a decision by providing them with information that can help them evaluate your school against the other options in your area. This is where you can sell the benefits of your facilities, programs, academic results and more to help narrow down their choice.
Once the parent is ready to enrol, it's incredibly important that you make the process as simple as possible. An online solution that loads on any device means that the parent can enrol their child as quickly as possible, and can complete the process whenever (and wherever!) they want.
Digistorm’s online enrolment form integrates with our CRM and allows parents to complete their child’s enrolment online, to save their progress and even to upload documents and pay their enrolment fee online. The benefit of this also is that all of the information gathered about a prospective parent and student is stored in a single location and that no manual data entry is required from the school.
Enrolment is just the start of your school’s relationship with the parent, so it’s important to keep the positive interactions flowing. Considering the experience of your prospective parents is crucial for building loyalty at your school. At Digistorm, we have a team member whose entire role is to consider and optimise the customer experience — and we're not alone! Many other businesses (especially schools) are putting customers at the centre of their operations and organising their processes to ensure they have the best experience possible.
Looking for more tips on nurturing prospective parents? Here are 6 ways to improve school-parent relationships.