If you’re finding your lead generation tactics ineffective, it could be because of an under-performing or non-existent communications plan.

Having a communications plan in place to turn those leads into conversions is of the utmost importance, and one of the most effective ways to build relationships and differentiate your institution from your competitors.

A recent study indicated that email remains the best way to reach out, according to 87% of prospective students. Email is far from dead, and should still be the primary tool used when connecting with your leads.

See below for what you should include when putting together your lead communications plan. These tactics will help ensure your strategy is a winning one and turns leads into conversions.

1. Respond, Respond, Respond! (And in a Timely Manner)

If a student is requesting information from your institution or providing you with their contact information, it’s because they want to hear from you and learn more. The worst thing you can do is not respond to their request. If you’re not responding to a lead within 24 hours, you need to know that other schools are.

After running a secret shopper study with our partners, we found that one third of institutions did not respond to student information requests. Just by responding to your leads, you’ll be ahead of most of your competition.

If you are responding, make sure that you’re doing it in a timely manner. Responding within 1 to 3 days of receiving the request is best practice. This will help ensure they keep you top of mind.

2. Be Mobile Friendly

In 2021, you can’t afford not to be mobile friendly. More than 55% of emails are opened on a mobile device. If your email campaigns aren’t mobile friendly, you can expect 70% of your audience to delete your email before even reading it.

Ensure your emails are optimized for mobile (and your website too!)

3. Make Your Subject Line Count

As with any email campaign, it’s important to have a subject line that’s engaging. When responding to your leads, it’s even more important. Creating a captivating subject line will help ensure that your message gets read.

Try using these tips when writing your next subject line:

  • Keep it brief — 70 characters, or 8 words max!
  • Personalize it — make your leads feel special
  • Manage expectations — ensure accuracy in your subject line
  • Include urgency — saying things like “don’t miss this” or “X days left” can really help boost interest
  • Test your subject lines — if you’re not sure run an A/B test or test your subject lines internally
  • Try emojis — using emojis is a great way to make your emails stand out in an inbox

4. Consider the Power of Preheaders

Often overlooked, preheader or preview text is vital in ensuring your emails get opened.

Preheaders are the preview of text shown below the subject line, before you actually open the email, giving you a second chance to engage the student and give them a irrefutable reason to open your email. The most effective preheaders provide more context, but should still be engaging.

Here’s an example:

5. Keep the Content Relevant

When you’re responding to your leads, make sure the messaging and content you’re sending them is relevant.

If a prospective student has indicated they are interested in studying business at your institution, don’t send them generic links and web pages. Send them information that relates to exactly what they’re looking for.

Relevant messaging and content not only increases click-throughs, but plays an important role in prospect relationship building.

6. Make it Personal

While we’re on the topic of relationship building and creating lasting first impressions… make sure to use personalization in your messaging as well. Personalization has been shown to increase click-throughs in email campaigns by 39%.

The more “human” your messaging is, the more likely it will be accepted. Try including your lead’s name in the subject line of your email, or in the body of the email content. Make your prospect feel special!

7. Think Strategically About Call-to-Action (CTA) Placement 

It’s common for institutions to fill their lead communications with endless links and resources for prospective students. While you may think it’s helpful to provide them with a link to every webpage of your website, it’s really quite the opposite.

Your lead communications should contain one main CTA in the form of a button or text link that directs your lead to a specified landing page. The fewer CTAs you have, the better; as fewer CTAs can result in 40% higher click-throughs.

However, with that being said, you can still link relevant words in the body of your message to pages that make sense. Just be sure not to overdo it!

Here’s an effective example:

8. Include Engaging Visuals

It’s no surprise that emails with images perform better than those without — they convert almost twice as well!

At the very least, avoid plain-text emails and include elements of your branding such as logos, colours, etc.

If you can, take it a step further and add an image or two in your campaign! Get your prospects excited about attending your institution. Show images that are relevant to the content of the email, such as real students or facilities on campus!

If you’re looking for a way to generate more prospective student leads, or need help communicating and connecting with the leads you receive, the SchoolFinder Group can help! With LeadMatch™ and LeadConnect™, we can provide you with digital lead generation solutions that don’t compromise budget or quality and drive real results.

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