It’s easy to be swamped with the day to day challenges of school marketing and admissions – handling enquiries, running events and tours and making sure that you get all the right information from parents before they join the school. However, it’s also important to be able to take a step back and review your processes each year. As well as improving overall recruitment numbers, you’re also likely to be able to save time and effort by streamlining the way you work.
Here are 7 tips to help you through the process…
1. Track Data:
From the start of the year make sure that you are keeping a running tally of which families are in key parts of your ‘Marketing Funnel’. A good simple model for this is AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action). Note how many families have shown Awareness (for example by visiting your admissions page on the website), Interest (by leaving their contact details, emailing you or phoning to ask questions), Desire (by coming to the school for an Open Event or tour, or filling in an application form) and Action (turning up in school as a student!). Over time you will be able to see where people drop out of the process and monitor conversion rates.
The 'AIDA' model for tracking which parts of your admissions process work better than others.
2. Ask for feedback from visits:
it’s important to get genuine feedback from visits, so avoid the temptation to ask positive leading questions to generate positive responses. A good model, used by Google Digital Garage among others, is simply to hand out a form asking ‘what could we do better?’ and offering the chance for visitors to leave their contact details. You can then follow up any interesting suggestions or solve any concerns with a later email or telephone call.
3. Check online feedback:
Visitors might not tell you what they think of your processes but might share their views on social media, review sites such as Google Maps, or discussion forums such as MumsNet. You can check out what people are saying about you using tools such as Social Mention.
4. Carry out regular focus groups:
Bring together people who have gone through the recruitment process – and ideally those who chose other schools (this is a lot harder!). Ask them open questions about the process, what they would do differently, and don’t be defensive.
5. Ask your internal audiences:
Make sure to ask support staff such as receptionists and teachers to feedback their experiences. Were they asked questions that they couldn’t answer? Do they have suggestions for improving the process. Remember that many of them might be parents who are going through the admissions process for other schools with their own children and might have some excellent insights!
6. Change processes as quickly as possible.
f you hear from parents that they are finding the application process hard to understand – or the proposed date of your Open Event clashes with another event that many will be going to – make changes quickly and evaluate the impact.
7.Think hard about longer term changes.
For example if you have a lot of people coming for tours but few convert to applications, consider whether you are giving people a poor experience in large tour groups. This was exactly the issue with one school who were only converting 1 in 6 visitors to apply - by moving to individual tours they were able to drastically improve this number and their overall recruitment figures.