December 31

Courting the Anonymous: Admissions Marketing to Those Who Won’t Commit

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Marry You?! I’m Just Here for the Speed-Dating Round!

Traditionally, higher education website lead gathering has gone something like this: “Susie Prospect, fill out my lengthy and detailed web form so that I can market to you.”

It may not seem like you’re asking for that much of a commitment, but for today’s prospective traditional student, you might as well pop out the diamond ring and propose in the middle of the speed-dating round.

They’re just “playing the field.”

They want to remain in control, and that means remaining anonymous for as long as possible.

Asking them for more than a name and email address can send them scurrying somewhere else. And they WILL find what they’re looking for somewhere else if you don’t provide it.

From Speed Dating to First Date: The Admissions Marketing Funnel

As good admissions counselors, enrollment professionals and higher education marketers, you’ve been taught that if you don’t know the demographic details of your prospect, you can’t market appropriately and effectively and that your admissions marketing efforts could be wasted.

While having demographic details can certainly help focus your admissions marketing efforts, there are general principles that can be applied that will help move these undefined prospects from “speed dating” in general to considering a “date” with your institution specifically.

Here are a few suggestions.

  • Start Small: Most prospects will trade a name and email address for something they consider valuable. A downloadable e-book, guide or resource that will aid in the prospect’s college search is a great place to start. Note: Make sure it is truly useful information and not just a commercial for your institution.
  • Next Step:  Once you have a prospect’s email address, you have their permission to market to them. However, this is not the time to “go for the ask!” Continue to provide truly useful and helpful information that will aid them in their college search without asking for anything in return.
  • Just a Little More: Once you have delivered several pieces of truly useful and engaging content via email, you’ve earned the right to see if that prospect would like to learn more about YOU.  This can be done with a higher-value deliverable that will be attractive enough for the prospective student to be willing to complete a more detailed contact form in exchange. Consider tailoring the deliverable based upon the information you receive. For example, high school freshmen and sophomores might receive a different deliverable than high school juniors or seniors.

The Successful Proposal

By delivering truly valuable material, you have earned your prospect’s trust and built rapport.

In return, they’ve entrusted you with more detailed information, and you can now market more specifically to their demographic and eventually “propose” a “committed relationship” with your institution.

And you’ll all live happily ever after.

How have you successfully marketed to the anonymous? Leave your comments below.


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