Sorry, I asked for Information!
"Two weeks ago I completed an online form to request information for a Master's Program. By today, I have yet to receive even an acknowledgment. Did they receive my message, are they overwhelmed with the level of interest, or did they simply ignore my message because of my profile? I had to complete quite a bit of information before I could submit my request. Though they might reply at some stage, I'm now less likely to apply."
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This quote is attributed to many people like Oscar Wilde, Willy Rogers, and Andrew Grant but for this post, their story doesn’t matter too much. What is more important is that Edu lost his confidence in your institution! Why? Edu showed interest in your institution. He was hyped to learn more about your programs. Unfortunately, due to a lack of strategy or processes, however, Edu hasn’t received any communication from your side.
What would be an ideal response time? Mircosoft’s 2017 State of Global Customer Service found that 50% of e-mail senders expect a reply within 24 hours. Are you operating a Live Chat function on your web? Hubspot, in a more recent survey, discovered that 90% of inquiries should be replied to within a 10-minute time frame to meet customer satisfaction. It provides an idea of the different expectations of speed of resolution by channel.
No doubt, there are peak periods in every company. Dealing with an overwhelming level of inquiries can be challenging and might lead to a slower response time. To ensure that Edu does receive a communication, we can explore a nurturing strategy and how we can measure whether this strategy produces the desired results.
First of all, it’s fantastic that potential candidates like Edu are reaching out to you by e-mail or through a web form. This means you have generated organic traffic to your website. But what is next? You have either an e-mail inbox where you collect those inquiries or a CRM system that captures the lead information. In the case of Edu, you don’t have an established workflow that defines a response to his inquiry. What does it take to create one?
Here are some options:
- Manual Process: send e-mails 1-by-1 with the information requested (most time-consuming)
- Semi-automated Process: create a mail-merge system and send once-a-day messages out to all inquiries on that day. (this can come with an increased complexity when you have many different programs).
- E-mail Software: start using dedicated e-mail software and automate the entire process through workflows
- Unique Selling Points and highlights
- Program content, duration, structure
- Student and faculty testimonials
- Admissions Process
- Financial Aid
All e-mails should include calls to action. These CTAs can be invitations to events, articles published by your faculty, a meeting scheduler to advance the relationship through direct communication with Edu, or a link to the online application.
Congratulations! You have set up your nurturing e-mails, providing Edu with tons of relevant and engaging content. How can we learn whether this strategy works and helps us to recruit more students? Depending on the systems you are working with, the effort to obtain the data can be different. Nonetheless, you should be able to measure the following:
- Online application started
- Meetings scheduled
- Articles read
- Event sign-up and attendance
- E-mail reply rates (and with the right system, opening and click-through rates).
Overall, you are measuring the level of engagement. The more engaged a candidate is, the more likely you see him/her progress in the sales pipeline and successfully enroll in your program.
A final thought on the information thirst of the institution. If you include a form on your page to collect inquiries, be mindful of the amount of information you are requesting. Research suggests that the number of questions in your form should be in the range of 5-10. When you ask for personal and contact details, and location you are already within those limits. With more questions, the response rate dramatically decreases. The more information you are asking for, the more expectations you create that you will use this information to personalize the candidate's journey. If you don’t plan to use this information, reconsider asking them. As a result, you might be able to see an increase in inquiries as well.