How to Engage Graduate Prospects During COVID-19

Graduate recruitment and admissions teams throughout the country are shifting to remote work … or are preparing to do so. These three things are critical to ensure you are positioned to respond to graduate prospects in meaningful and relevant ways.

Here is what we know. When graduate prospects raise their hand for information, they don’t want to be marketed at. Who does? They want the information quickly, and they will reward the institution that gets it to them first.

In fact, 61% of prospective online graduate students enroll at the institution that contacts them first.

Doing what you can to personalize your rapid responses, and future interactions, will also go a long way to establishing a meaningful relationship between your institution and the prospective student — a desired outcome particularly when engagements are virtual.

So here are the three ways to engage in a remote and virtual environment.

  1. Continue your speed to lead efforts … be they rapid email, phone or text response.

People are at home. More and more businesses and organizations are sending employees home to work. If you take out commuting times, routine office talk, and other distractions, these remote workers are more productive than they are in the office. Coupled with fewer happy hours, and other after work social activities, people have more time. As human beings, we think about our future. With the potential of economic disruption, people turn to education as a way to help shape the future we desire. Now is not the time to reduce your speed to lead. Don’t let your remote work stop the critical touch points of email, phone and even text.

  1. Automate as much as possible.

Speed to lead can and should be low effort. Leverage the tools at your disposal to automate a rapid response to an inquiry. Most CRMs include automated email capability upon the completion of an RFI form. If your CRM doesn’t, there are other marketing automation tools that can do this for you, complete with managed service so the burden doesn’t rest on you or your remote team. Be sure in your automated response to provide information about when and how more information will be coming. If possible, provide a clear timeframe as to when an actual human will be in touch.

  1. Personalize your outreach.

Real people are behind the data submitted in those forms. When they hear from you, they not only want the response to be rapid; they also want it to be personalized.

Personalized email, for example, delivers 6x higher transaction rates.

Use the data the inquiry has provided to customize your outreach. Take it a step further by using the content the prospective student has consumed virtually — web page content, video content, digital and social media content — to shape your responses.

Tools exist that monitor individual visits to college and university websites. If you see a prospect has consumed content about the affordability of a graduate degree, include information about graduate aid and assistantships when you engage. In other words, use the data you have been provided to personalize your interactions rather than send a generic message that will leave your prospective students underwhelmed and unimpressed. Demonstrate their value by showing you paid attention to them.

Closing a campus and working from home doesn’t mean your interactions with prospective students need be less valuable. In fact, you can make your virtual interactions engaging, relevant and meaningful.

Get the tools.

Use the tools.


By Jack Klett, Director of Graduate and Post-Traditional Initiatives, Capture