What's an admissions pipeline?
An admissions pipeline is the process a family goes through to reach enrollment. The process is imagined as a ‘pipeline’, because your aim is to nurture them along the pipeline through a standard set of steps. Beginning with awareness, when a family decides to search for a school, and ending in enrollment, your goal as a member of an admissions team is to nurture them through all the stages. There are many different tactics that you can use to move parents along the admissions pipeline, and it really comes down to your specific school’s processes and capacity when working out the most effective tactics to use. In this post we’ll run through why an admissions pipeline is essential, and how you can optimize your specific school’s pipeline.
How mapping out your admissions journey helps
Mapping out your admissions journey is useful for highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of your journey. If you map out your journey, then you have a great overview of every stage a family moves through. This helps you to identify stages which are underperforming, and allows you to fix them. Say for example that you are underperforming when it comes to lead generation. By identifying this in your admissions map, you can assign staff members to specifically work on improving it, and track its progress over the long term. It also helps for comparing your admissions journey to other schools, so you can contrast what you’re doing effectively vs what they’re doing effectively. You want the process to run as smoothly as possible, from enquiry, through to open days, interviews, letters of offers, and finally acceptance of offers.
The steps involved:
1. Awareness. Parents decide they need to find a school for their children.
2. Search. Parents start the search for a school, checking websites, review sites, and social media.
3. Consideration. Parents narrow down their lists of potential candidates, and keep an eye out for specific courses or programs relevant to their child's individual needs.
4. Intent phase. Here you ned your admissions team to be easily accessible to parents, as they'll reach out through online inquiry forms, calls, and email for more information. Here's your opportunity to grab core data for personalization.
5. Nurture to enrolment. Now's the time to build a real connection with families and nurture them to the finish line. It's during this stage that they'll visit your campus, join events, and attend interviews.
6. Enrolment. Your family's made it to the finish line, and reached the end of the admissions pipeline!
Collecting data for personalization
Creating a positive admissions experience is all about connecting with families, and making them feel like you understand their wants and needs. By using some of the data and personal information you collect from them, you can better understand them and personalize their experience. If you know what they’re looking for, you can build your communication around their interests to show them the reasons your school is the best choice for them. It also works for you, because you’re surfacing the students who are the best possible fit for your school.
For example, say your school has a strong music program, and that you’re interested in attracting students with a musical interest. By highlighting your music program in your marketing (which is your school’s unique selling point) you’re directly targeting the sort of student you want to attract, and also making their search easier.
Personalization is also the best way to cut through all the marketing clutter and get straight through to your parents. Think about how bombarded everyone is today with marketing messages, in your emails, on social media, on websites, everywhere! By crafting messages that have your intended audience's interests in mind, they’ll be far more likely to be receptive to them, and actually absorb the information you’ve put together for them. If your school has a great music program, then marketing your music program to families will improve your chances of attracting a musically-interested student (who is your ideal candidate).
Leveraging tools and communication (CRM)
Scaled personalization can be challenging for schools and teams of all sizes. Here’s where technology can really make a difference, and help your team scale their personalization and save countless hours. A good Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) will help teams to nurture families through the admissions pipeline, and automate many processes which otherwise would have taken far too long individually. Imagine writing out personalized emails to hundreds of families - it’s simply not feasible! Digistorm’s Funnel allows admissions teams to automate many of these tedious tasks, but also provides in-depth data analytics so staff members can make data-driven decisions. Making your decisions based on data is much more sophisticated, and allows you to more accurately track your campaigns and the effectiveness of your processes.
Every school has an admissions pipeline already, it’s just a matter of mapping it out to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Once your pipeline’s clear to you, it’ll be much easier to start making any necessary adjustments, and implementing tactics to ultimately streamline and boost your admissions. By implementing the right tech and updating your admissions and marketing philosophy, you’re sure to save hours of time each week and hit those important KPIs.