Why Verify Leads?
Verifying prospective student inquiries, and making the most of every opportunity, is critical to staying competitive in the online education arena. In part, this is because online students are changing how they approach school selection.
In 2017, the majority of online students (52%) contacted or requested information from three or more schools, a dramatic increase from 2016 (29%). And the number of students considering only one institution fell from 30% to 18%, indicating that diversifying the college search is more important than it once was.*
So, what does that mean for your institution? When competition is higher, enrolling a new student may require extra effort to understand that student’s unique needs, concerns, and ambitions, and help them realize your school is the perfect fit. That’s where lead verification comes into play.
What is Lead Verification for Higher Education?
When a prospective student makes an inquiry for more information, generally by filling out a form on your website or a partner site, your knowledge of their needs, plans, and goals is still limited. You don’t know what other schools they are considering, their timeline for enrolling, or what features are most important to them. Lead verification is a way to find out these details so you can qualify a prospective student and start to guide them through the enrollment funnel.
Why is Lead Verification Important?
The verification process is not simply a chance to confirm that a prospective student is serious about pursuing higher education; it’s an opportunity to start a conversation and build a relationship. This process of engagement is especially important, given that today’s prospective students are savvy online researchers, willing to draw their own conclusions and make their own plans.
In 2017, most students knew the general area of study or even the specific program they wanted to pursue. Students were well-informed about potential opportunities such as competency-based education. And students tended to use search engines (37%) and the institution’s website (35%) to gather information independently.*
Sure, 24% of students still placed calls to institutions to ask questions and learn more about programs of interest.* But far more students chose methods of research-gathering that did not involve speaking to a school representative. When students bypass representatives and draw their own conclusions about your institution, you lose the chance to:
- Ask questions and learn more about the prospective student’s intentions
- Provide relevant, personalized program information
- Correct misconceptions and address concerns
- Build rapport and keep prospective students engaged or “warm”
- Guide students toward a next step, such as applying
It’s also important to note that students tend to make decisions quickly. Sixty percent of online college students submit an application to a school four weeks or less after beginning their search.* To have maximum influence over a prospective student’s decision, you need to verify their interest and begin building a relationship right away.
The Value of Working with an Outside Partner
Lead verification for higher education requires a special skillset. After all, rapport-building, asking the right questions to get to the heart of a prospective student’s story, and guiding prospects to the next step in the enrollment process may not be intuitive to members of your staff who spend most of their time on other tasks. Even program directors focused on providing a high-quality education may not be so good at “selling” the very programs they are so invested in!
And while speed to response is key to ensuring students don’t make a decision without talking to a representative, not every institution has the resources to respond to inquiries right away. As a result, prospective students may slip through the cracks, or end up making a different choice before you have a chance to even build that rapport.
In short, staying on top of the lead nurturing process is a big job that often calls for outside management and coaching. EducationDynamics is staffed by trained experts who have proven success in connecting with students and guiding them toward a decision. We can help you with:
- Lead verification and qualification
- Lead management and nurturing
- Determining the right amount of lead contact
- Implementing the correct staffing model
- Optimizing your staffing budget
- And other strategies for driving enrollment and maximizing opportunities
Make the Most of Every Lead
Lead verification is critical to identifying, attracting, and enrolling students who are a great match for your school. And because today’s prospective students are research-savvy and tend to move quickly, acting on every inquiry is essential to remaining competitive as an online higher education partner. Contact EducationDynamics today to learn more about driving enrollment through smarter lead management at every step of the student’s journey.
*Clinefelter, D. L., & Aslanian, C. B. (2017). Online college students 2017: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences. Louisville, KY: The Learning House, Inc.