With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the way we live our daily lives, reliance on technology to help us through this crisis has become crystal clear at a time when everything else is alarmingly out of focus. We are social distancing and working remotely to keep some semblance of productivity going and in doing so, we see how much we need the technology tools available.
Thinking about higher education and the fact that this admissions season has been completely sidelined, what are the measures that can be taken now to recover? What will the admissions yield look like on your campus this fall? What are you doing now to offset the impact on the numbers? Do you have a plan and if so, what does it look like?
We know that the traditional means of recruitment need to be technologically enhanced to create similar experiences previously relied upon for successful conversions from applicants to admissions. In the very recent past, there was the luxury of face-to-face meetings, campus tours, events, and visits to cement the connection with the prospective student. Now, what can be done to establish that same connection thus keeping your conversion rates solid?
Based on our experience, here are some of the ways to proactively shift your efforts so that when fall comes around and moving forward, there is an effective “new system” in place.
- Using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
- Building stronger campaigns in social media channels
- Implementing virtual tours on your digital outlets like Website, Flipbooks and Social Pages
- Creating micro-sites and landing pages crafted specifically for events such as “Admitted Students” day
- Integrating live chat system on your website, so that you can answer your prospects questions in real time as if they were with you on campus
- Improving turn around time to answer queries that come from students via email or other channels.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Schools often use multiple legacy systems – one that links to the application and houses candidate data, another for reporting, and another for managing recruitment and admission events. A CRM streamlines these systems in one place and effectively manages and simplifies these processes. There has already been an uptick in the use of CRM platforms in higher education over the past year. This may be in part because of the overall decrease in university enrollment numbers in recent years. In fact, last fall the overall post secondary enrollments decreased 1.3 percent or more than 231,000 students from the previous fall to 17.9 million students. For the first time in the decade, the nation’s fall unduplicated enrollments fell below 18 million students and declined by more than 2 million students. (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, December 19, 2019)
It would seem that as enrollment numbers decrease, the use of technology must increase. Now with the coronavirus hitting these figures with blunt force, a CRM platform is a life raft now. That is because CRM is highly effective when it comes to creating the much needed one-on-one connection. The user is prompted to perform actions needed, such as multiple touch bases with the same prospect, using data to assist the user with vital information, such as what information to send, to whom it should be sent, when the information should be to sent, and how often and through what channels. All of the actions and collected data are managed in one highly efficient place. This makes your efforts efficient like a well-oiled, highly functioning machine that gets the job done and continues serving its purpose through time. There’s a good reason why any sales organization uses this technology. Now colleges and universities would benefit greatly in the same way.
Social Media Channels – Now More than Ever
Where CRM is effective in building relationships (hence the name), social media casts a large and much-needed net in our new “virtual reality” world. The reach and connection in a broad way is a necessary component to the larger system because now recruiting, attracting, and enrolling students by reaching them everywhere they happen to be, in their own little pockets of the world is most certainly a tried and true method and one to take very seriously with a strong campaign strategy.
3D Virtual Tour Technology
Oh, to experience a campus remotely in living color, walking through each room and navigating down the halls… what a powerful tool to overcome travel restrictions and still enjoy the campus. Virtual tour technology has been used in business sectors like real estate for years. It is also used for entertainment like visiting world museums. So if you want to go see the Mona Lisa right now, you can. Let’s create your virtual campus so your prospective students can come for a “visit” and fall in love with your university without ever leaving their home.
A virtual campus tour is the best way to create that similar hands-on experience without the visitor (and certainly without the hands-on.) But, as with every technology tool out in the market, there are high-quality platforms that are so aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate and there are others that are not so much. Due diligence when selecting this software is paramount and in conducting your fact-finding, reaching out to an agency who can consult with you and make appropriate recommendations is a great way to avoid a costly mistake and extended timeline.
Micro-sites and special landing pages
Micro-sites and special landing pages are yet another component to the new way of conducting a successful recruitment and admissions process. But where to start when there is so much going on, so much to do, and so little time to do it?
Reach out to an agency that can determine your particular needs and recommend solutions for your new “system”. Your fall admissions yield is counting on this and the actions you take now will make the difference to recover and recover well.
We heard from a client recently who was working from home and finding difficulty in doing so. Her kids were on Zoom all day for instruction. The dog was barking. Her husband was rummaging the refrigerator on his 11th work break of the morning. In essence, our dear friend was pulling her hair out, completely overwhelmed.
She knew the least she could do was reach out to her tech agency. She needed to off-load some of the work piling up at her home office for her university’s communication department. She requested that we create an “Admitted Students” landing page since her usual on-campus event is canceled along with everything else courtesy of the coronavirus. Her event typically happens in early April so her request was urgent. We jumped in to help her even though she could have created the page herself and was told so. But delegating this task was necessary for her and we were happy to take some stress off of her already overwhelming daily functions.
If you need help or advice with the following, you should reach out to experts in the field and preferably an agency who handles it all:
- Training and implementing CRM software
- Developing micro-sites and landing pages
- Social media strategies and campaigns
- Virtual tour technology recommendations and implementation