Trying to get the attention of prospective students and parents can be challenging. How do you make your admission emails stand out when today’s families receive 50+ marketing messages each day? Does direct mail even work anymore?
If you want to avoid that dreaded unsubscribe button and increase your open rates and application numbers, an intentional communication strategy is key! Here are a few tips for communicating with prospective families.
Methods of Communication
Not all methods of communication are the same. Email is arguably the most commonly used method — and for good reason! You can send all kinds of messages to different people with targeted lists and personalization. Plus, it’s a low-cost option. But you should also step outside the email box and try other methods for communicating with students.
For example, The Taft School in Watertown, CT, uses text/SMS to communicate with students and to reach the younger generation. “Texting our prospective students is a great way to get in touch with them because they tend not to read their email, especially teenagers,” says Director of Advancement Services, Kelly Gereski.
SMS can be great for quick messages such as reminders, invitations, and announcements. Bonus: a communication platform like Veracross Composer makes it easy to craft text messages and make sure they reach your target audience.
Direct mail can be a great option for sending marketing materials like viewbooks, brochures, or event invitations. Phone calls are also powerful, allowing you to directly communicate with prospects and tailor your message to each individual.
All in all, variety is the spice of life. Experiment and determine which communication methods work best for different audiences and types of outreach. Keep track of which mediums are bringing the best return-on-investment and focus your efforts there.
“We try not to stay stagnant and do the same thing every year,” says Gereski. “We try to think of new ways we can communicate with families and be more effective than the year before.”
School portals are another effective way to communicate with different user groups. During the admission process, a dedicated admission portal can help prospective families easily find information, access quick links, and complete required tasks during the application process. It’s also useful for sharing content like student testimonials and campus videos to reinforce your school’s value and encourage prospects to continue through the funnel and apply to your school.
After students are accepted, some schools use a new family portal to bridge the gap between enrollment and the first day of school. This empowers families to find information in one central location and eliminates the number of emails your staff needs to send. With Veracross, schools can configure as many portals as they want to share information and strengthen communication!
Choosing Information to Share
Prospective families are hungry for information. When determining how to attract students to your school, it’s important to share relevant information during the prospect, application, and enrollment process.
While reaching out to prospects, you want to give them as much information about your school as possible. Send them your brochure or viewbook, invitations to events such as open houses or informational webinars, and showcase your community with eye-catching imagery and video.
During the application process, make requirements as clear as possible so families know exactly what they need to do and how to do it. This is another reason why a user-friendly admission portal is valuable! It’s also a good idea to send prospective families reminders for campus visits or application deadlines. This can be a personalized email or text.
Once a student has enrolled, there’s a lot of information to share including:
- Tuition payment instructions
- Health form requirements
- International student information
- Class registration
Many schools share this information via email. If you want to simplify the enrollment process, you can include these details in a new family portal instead.
What to Consider in Your Communication Strategies
When crafting your messages, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- When’s the best time to reach out? Always think ahead about your important dates and deadlines to allow yourself enough time to send reminders and multiple forms of communication. Be sure to consider what time of day and week your audience is most available to read your message.
- How frequently should you reach out? This answer will differ for each school. Ensure you’re getting on everyone’s radar but not to the point where they’re tired of hearing from you.
- What’s the most effective content? Make sure to vary your content in terms of different images, videos, and writing styles. Keep it engaging and have a clear and concise message.
- Who’s the target audience? Ensure you’re reaching the right group for your messaging. Include broad targets for mass communications and hyper-specific ones for a personalized approach.
- What’s the best method? Find the best form of communication for your message and craft your copy and design to match it.
These are just a few ways that strong communication can help you attract students to your school. To learn more about effective communication with prospective families, read our free eBook about the impact of marketing and technology for admission.