Lead Nurturing – It’s a lot like dating

Valentine's dayThink about it.

You just talked to a prospective parent on the phone or via email for the first time. The conversation went well and the parent seemed interested in your school.

You have just captured a new lead for your school.

Now what?

I am still surprised when I find a school staff member that takes the “wait and see” approach. Instead of implementing a follow-up plan, they “wait and see” if the parent will call back or submit an application. The admissions director waits to see if anything will happen rather than “courting” the new lead.

This is the wrong approach.

Think about dating. If you call someone and express your interest, you can most likely expect some kind of response, especially if the other person has interest. If there is no response, then you can assume that there isn’t any interest.

However, when the conversation continues over time, the interest grows and has the best potential to develop into a relationship.

Just like dating, your job as an admissions director is to “court” your prospective parents—your inquiries. It doesn’t mean that you buy them flowers or send them a box of chocolates. However, it does mean that you work to build their interest in your school over time in an effort to grow the relationship and connection to your school. As this occurs, the probability of the parent visiting, applying and enrolling their child greatly increases.

This is called lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is a strategy focused on building relationships with your primary customers.

In admissions, it is critical to nurture your leads by continuing to expose them to your school and by building a relationship with them. And, along the way, you can ask them to take the next step. After all, in dating, if you never ask for the next date, you will never reach the goal.

Think about it in this way. A parent has expressed their interest in your school and your job is to keep your school in front of them. You want to make sure they find out about your school through key messages and stories since you never know when they will respond—it could be tomorrow, six months from now or never.

Therefore, it is critical for you to develop a lead nurturing strategy as part of your admissions effort. The following are some ideas to get you started:

1. Develop a 30-day lead nurturing plan (sequence) that includes a mix of personal contacts, emails and mailings. The goal of this sequence of communications is to keep your school in front of the prospective parent during the time when their interest is strongest. Remember, the parent just initiated contact with you.

2. Focus your personal contacts on parents that seem most interested in your school. These are your warmest leads and deserve personal attention.

3. Develop an email lead nurturing sequence. For one of my clients, we just implemented a bi-weekly email newsletter that tells a story about a student, parent or faculty member. The newsletter also includes a call-to-action to visit or apply as well as a link to another article. Our goal is to keep the school in front of them. By using MailChimp, we can assess who is opening the emails, clicking on the links or unsubscribing because they are no longer interested—all of which is great data to use.

4. Utilize your parent ambassadors to reach out to your leads. Some schools send a list of parent ambassadors with their contact information in their inquiry packets. Other schools will have parent ambassadors send an email at a key point in the lead nurturing sequence. By having a current parent reach out to a prospective parent, this peer-to-peer connection may be more valuable than than the paid professional making the contact.

As you begin another recruitment cycle, make sure that you include a lead nurturing strategy as a key component of your admissions effort.

How do you nurture your leads in your recruitment effort?

What do you keep your school in front of your prospective parents?