Creating a Higher Education Enrollment Funnel

Hello, again. I’m Anthony Levato, director of marketing here at Education Dynamics. I’d like to thank you for joining me for another Whiteboard Wednesday.

This week’s topic: the enrollment funnel.

This idea came to me while down in Austin, Texas, this last week. Education Dynamics hosts a series of showcase events where we invite higher education administrators from across the country to discuss best practices around marketing, enrollment, and admissions. While giving a presentation on marketing automation, I asked the audience how many of them knew the number of enrollments in need for any given program. Of course, all of their hands went up. I then asked them if they knew the number of prospects they needed to reach that enrollment goal. Almost none of their hands went up.

The good news? Determining the number of prospects you need is actually really easy when you build an enrollment funnel. So, let’s not waste any more time. Let’s build an enrollment funnel… The enrollment funnel. First, we have prospects. Prospects are the people that come to your website because of your marketing campaigns, to fill out your landing pages, and to request more information about your programs. Prospects turn into inquiries. Inquiries are the actual people that fill out your forms that are inquiring to learn more about your programs. Inquiries turn into applicants. Applicants are, of course, the people that apply to your institution. Applicants turn into admitted students, those that are accepted into your program. And admitted students turn into enrolled students.

Now, I’m going to ask the same question to you as I asked the audience down in Austin, Texas. How many of you know the number of enrolled students you need for any given program? Of course, you do, right? When you set up a program, you know that you need, let’s say, 15 enrolled students to meet your goal for that particular program. So, we’ll set the number to 15. So, from here, we need to then start determining how many admitted students we need, how many applicants we need, how many inquiries we need, and finally how many prospects we need to reach our goal of 15 enrolled students. The good news is these numbers are actually a lot easier to surface than you might believe. The bad news is you’re going to have to make some assumptions. You can either make these based on a closely related program, or other information you have from other programs, or just use industry standards.

So, we’re going to make some assumptions. The first assumption we’re going to make is that 50% of your admitted students turn into enrolled students. Now, you don’t know how many admitted students you need, but you know that 50% of them turn into enrolled students. So you know that 15 enrolled students is equal to 50% of your admitted students, X being the number of admitted students because we don’t know that. Or X equals 15 over 50%. Or X equals 30. Now, again, the 50% I made up. It’s based on industry standards; your institution might be different. Your best bet is to ask your admission folks, your enrollment folks, and to come up with a good number based on empirical data that you have at your institution. So, now that we know how many admitted students we need, we need to figure out the number of applicants we need. We’ll do the same math that we used to determine the number of admitted students as we will to determine the number of applicants. This is an institutional number. It’s set by the standards of your institution. I’m going to set it to 70%, just for the sake of this example, but obviously, you can manipulate the numbers however you see fit. We know that 30 admitted students is equal to 70% of X. We don’t know what X is, so this can be rewritten as X equals 30 over 70%, or X equals 43 applicants.

Now we need to determine the number of inquiries we need. Again, we’re going to have to make an assumption here, but based upon industry standards, we’ve gone ahead and gone with 20%. You can change this number to your institution when you start surfacing the data. So, if we know that 20% of inquiries turn into applicants, and we know that 43 applicants equals 20% of X—X being the number of inquiries—this can be rewritten as X equals 43 over 20%, or X equals 215 inquiries. So now we need to determine the number of prospects, and we’re going to make one more assumption based on industry standards. We’re going to say that the number of prospects you receive that turn into inquiries is 4%. So, we know that 215 inquiries is equal to 4% of X. So, we have X equals 215 over 4%, or X equals 5,375 prospects. 5,375 prospects is the number of people we need to visit our website if we’d like to reach our goal of 15 enrolled students. Now, it’s important to realize that these percentages might not be applicable to your institution, but the math is always the same. You’ll simply just change the percentages along the way, and you’ll notice that the values that you need for each particular layer of the funnel will change accordingly.

The good news is that when you determine the number of enrolled students you need, it’s quite simple to figure out how many prospects you need to reach that enrollment goal. So, there you have it: the enrollment funnel. Be sure to tune in next week as we discuss how to optimize each layer of the enrollment funnel, so you can either turn more inquiries into enrollments, or you can reduce your marketing costs necessary to reach your enrollment goal. Thanks again for joining me for another Whiteboard Wednesday.

 

Anthony Levato
AUTHOR

Anthony Levato

I'm the Director of Marketing at EducationDynamics. I enjoy taking classes online, reading and writing about marketing, and riding my bicycle in New York City. You may contact me directly at alevato@educationdynamics.com

All stories by: Anthony Levato
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