How the right applicant nurture strategy could turn a deferrer into an enrolled student

What is university life going to look like in 2020?  

This question is front and centre of applicants’ minds at the moment.  Will they get the same experience as those just a couple of years older than them?  How are Universities going to ensure their safety, while at the same time, providing the experiences that their first taste of freedom would normally have allowed.

Our friends at Student Hut have been running a weekly survey to track the thoughts of students and prospects during the coronavirus crisis.  They’ve found that applicants are twice as likely to take a gap year in the current circumstances.

It’s difficult to blame them, why would they want to risk their health for an experience that they hadn’t signed up for and that could be back to normal next year?

This trend in student behaviour could lead to a £760m deficit in UK HE institutions’ forecasted revenues, and could lead to 120,000 fewer students enrolling in the autumn.

However, as the Student Hut research also demonstrates, if a University is open and honest with it’s plans for re-opening and details the measures it’s taking to implement the measures required to take students safe and allow face-to-face learning, three-quarters of applicants would re-enrol.

So, how can a University use this data in actionable ways to reassure it’s prospective students that they're going to have as much of a ‘normal’ university experience as possible?

1. Advertising

Ensure that your advertising messaging is communicating the measures that you’ve put in place.  The University of Bolton have done this very well, using clear, honest and pragmatic language to communicate the steps that they’re taking.

This can be amplified by using specialist education marketing software such as Akero Advertising to quickly and easily build targeted campaigns to communicate your messages.

Its cutting-edge AI scans billions of data points across more than two million websites, comparing it with data collected from over 10 years of student campaigns and overlaying it with third-party student audience data from Oracle, Experian and our own student publisher site, Student Hut. 

Akero sets guaranteed performance metrics and cost for your campaign, so you know in advance exactly what your spend, and results, will be.

2. Applicant nurture strategy 

Once you’ve reached your audience, you need to ensure that message is getting through to them through your nurture strategy.

Through your student records and CRM systems, you’ll have all the data and opt-ins for the prospects and applicants to be contacted, so alongside the usual applicant comms that you have planned, you should also include messages laying out the COVID-19 procedures you’re also taking.

As well as these emails detailing the measure in place, it’s also important to tackle the other issues associated with the drop-off of applicants over the summer.  Principally, this is about ensuring that students feel a part of the University family before they even set foot on campus.  Content that highlights the community feel, groups for people in the same Halls of Residence they can join, virtual tours of the university, things to do in the local towns, cities or countryside.

These types of content will ensure that applicants feel a bond with the University and discourage them from deferring.

3. Systems integration

Our final tip is to make sure your systems are speaking to each other and fully integrated.

At a time when consistent messaging to applicants is incredibly important, there is always the risk that the opposite of every marketer’s clarion call could happen and the wrong message could be sent to the wrong person at the wrong time. 

Akero is designed to plug directly into your CRM and student records systems in order to provide the most up to date information about an applicant, including the advertising they’ve engaged with, the emails they’ve opened and their engagement score.

This means that you can run your communication strategy from Akero while ensuring that you’re always speaking to the right people.

Talk to our experts today about the right applicant nurture strategy for you, turning those deferrers into an enrolled students.