Whilst our immediate goal may not be repeat business, which is often the main objective of building brand loyalty, it is necessary to keep our prospects and applicants engaged and interested throughout the various stages of their decision making process.
In my previous blog, I discussed the aftermath of the Open Day, putting it into context of where it falls in a prospect’s decision making process. With applications now starting to flow into the admissions office, the process of making offers has begun. Hence, it is now that the arduous task begins of trying to convert these applications into enrolments.
In terms of how you can begin to engage with your applicants, a department or course e-newsletter is a good starting point. Universities are in a very fortunate position that makes it relatively easy to engage with our prospects. By virtue of an applicant’s application, not only do we know that they are considering the University as one of their five choices, but we also have a wealth of information on exactly who they are and what they are interested in. This immediately gives us the ability to create very powerful personalised and targeted marketing communications.
One means by which we can create a targeted approach to communicating with our applicants is by segmenting our applicants by their course interest and creating a communication that demonstrates the value proposition that a course can provide them. This, of course, doesn’t have to be done by means of an e-newsletter but this approach does have a number of advantages.
An e-newsletter enables you to:
- inform and interact with your applicants
- demonstrate the real value of your course through real life examples
- delve deeper than other marketing posts and explain what you mean
- engage the reader through interesting content
- bring your course to life, making it more tangible to the reader
- validate any assertions made and consequently make it sound more credible and believable
- make it topical and subsequently interesting to the reader
So how do you create good content for an e-newsletter? Here are a few pointers on how to connect with your applicants.
1. Keep it relevant
This may sound like an obvious thing to say, but make sure the content is relevant and interesting to the reader. Remember who you are writing for and keep asking: “what’s in it for them?” Applicants won’t want to read the story unless it demonstrates how your course is going to enhance their experience at the University. Avoid simply repeating what is in the prospectus. This is your opportunity to tell a story about your course and add a little ‘meat on the bones’.
2. Keep it personable
Although it is important to ensure your content accurately reflects the professionalism of your provision, there is no harm in letting the writer’s personality shine through. Don’t limit your newsletters to ‘academic or business speak’. Ensure you keep it personable, simple and easy to read otherwise you’ll risk not getting your point across at all. Everybody’s time is precious and if it is too difficult to read they will simply not bother.
3. Keep it engaging
“Are you not entertained?” A quote from one of my favourite films, but a statement that epitomised what the crowd were looking for. My tip here is to spark curiosity in the reader and make them want to find out more. Keep them entertained, tell a story and engage the reader.
4. Keep adding value
Stay focussed on the objectives of your newsletter. Think about what is unique about your course, the ways in which it adds value and demonstrate, with examples, your proven track record of success. If the article isn’t highlighting how your course will enhance the reader’s experience at the University, then there is little point in the story. Like it or not, students are now consumers looking for the best possible return on that investment.
5. Keep it integrated
Whilst we might want to tell the reader something new and exciting, you might also like to remind them of the core values of your course that make it distinctive from other comparable courses. Even though an applicant has made an expression of interest, don’t ever assume that they already know the basic features of your course. Adopting an integrated approach to your marketing communications, and maintaining a consistent message throughout, should help to avoid confusing the applicant about what your course is about and help them to remember you. This tactic of message reinforcement is a basic principle adopted by all successful brands to ensure that they are at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
6. Keep communication flowing
Following on from the point above, don’t settle for just creating the odd newsletter here and there. Regular contact with your applicants should help to ensure that your course is not forgotten. Our recommendation is to aim for at least one applicant e-newsletter a month from the point of application up until the point of enrolment. You might also want to think of ways of encouraging your applicants to converse with you further, perhaps by means of an invitation to an Applicant Day or through engaging with your social media networks.
That’s all we have time for…
With that, it’s tempting to sign off like The Two Ronnies, but I’m far too classy to do something as crass as that. I look forward to reading the news!
Until the next communication…