How to use XCM to improve your chances of converting an offer holder to an offer acceptor.
So, you’ve done enough to convince a prospective student to apply to your institution and you like them enough to make them an offer - great work! Now, though, comes another round of hard work; yep, you’ve entered the conversion stage of the recruitment cycle.
You don’t need us to tell you quite how important this stage of proceedings is; for you, it’s the make-or-break stage of the cycle. Get this part right and that prospective student could soon be enrolling with you ready for the start of the new academic year.
It’s a daunting prospect, but there are ways in which you can use Experience Communication Management (XCM) to improve your chances of converting that potential student from an offer holder to an offer acceptor.
Making conversion EASY
As mentioned above, this stage of the cycle is a high-pressure for recruitment and admissions teams. So, you’ll be very pleased to know that this article will explain how to make conversion EASY.
Now, don’t worry, we're not that naïve; we know conversion is tough. But, if you remember the word EASY it really will help you shape a solid plan for this stage of the admissions cycle.
Here's what we mean...
If you focus on sharing and embedding content that showcases the Experience of being part of your community, have it be Ambassador-led, and make it as Straightforward as possible for your offer holders to have access to lots of specific information, whenever they need it, you’ll be doing all that you can to give yourself the best chance of getting the Yes you’re hoping for.
E-A-S-Y - easy!
Focus on experience
As an education provider the experience of being part of your institution is what makes you stand-out. This unique experience is exactly what prospects want to find out more about, particularly in the conversion stage of the cycle where they want to decide whether you are the best fit for them - and if they’re a good fit for you.
But communicating what it’s really like to be part of your institution is a challenging thing to do. How do you get across all the nuances and the uniqueness in a way that’s authentic and scalable?
Your website, social media, and prospectus can do some of the job, but none of them truly capture the magic moments that happen on campus. None of them can authentically replicate the feeling, sense of identity, or inclusiveness that makes your institution unique.
It’s no wonder that prospective students have a hard time understanding how you’re different from other providers and why they should study with you.
We call this the Insight Gap. The chasm between what it's really like to be part of your institution and what a prospective student perceives it to be like from your current website and communications channels. It’s an innocent, easy-to-overlook issue that could be the difference between converting an offer holder, and not.
Now, capturing and showcasing the experience of being part of your community is vital throughout the cycle, but especially so when trying to convert an offer holder.
Think about it, you’ve already done enough to get them to apply, now you’ve got to let them get a sense of what their life could be like if they accept that offer and enrol with you. By putting a focus on the experience of being one of your students, you can ensure you do just that.
Now, it’s all well and good wanting to focus on capturing the experience of your institution - but it has to be more than just a buzzword. You need to do it in a way that is authentic, which is where your ambassadors come in.
Of all the people in your community, no-one is better placed to showcase the experience of being one of your students than your ambassadors. They are experts on that student experience - quite literally living it and gathering first-hand experience every day. This is why your prospects see your ambassadors as being so relatable and trustworthy - they are authentic. And that’s not just us saying that, when we produced a white paper about student ambassadors in October 2020, those were the three most common ways in which prospective students described ambassadors.
In fact, that white paper is worth sticking with for a moment here, particularly when you look at what we found about the motivations of ambassadors. 87% of ambassadors we surveyed said they did it to help prospective students make a confident decision about their future, and 59% said they also did it to help share the experience of being at their university. Not only that, when we asked ambassadors to pick the single best thing about being an ambassador, the most popular result was being able to have direct conversations with prospective students.
That’s powerful. Not only are your ambassadors the best people to talk about the experience of being one of your students, but they’re really motivated to share it and talk to your prospects. This is really useful for conversion; if you can match your prospects with suitable ambassadors and encourage them to get talking, you could get some terrific results.
So, you’ve worked closely with your ambassadors to commission and collect a load of content showcasing the true experience of being part of your community, but you should still think about what you can do to get that content, and your ambassadors, in the minds of your prospects.
In fact, you need to put yourself in their shoes and think about what you can do to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible to access that content and have their questions answered. Why? Well, your prospect might well make their final decision on one, small detail - so you need to make sure you’ve made it as easy as possible for them to find what they’re looking for and when they’re looking for it.
The good news is, that is actually very doable - especially using TAP. Right away, that gives you a way for prospects to access your ambassadors and ask those burning questions whenever they like - it is always on and always available.
By far and away the most effective means of communicating with a prospect during conversion is by email - after all, these are your offer holders we’re talking about here. They are serious about you, they will absolutely open any emails you send them.
The beauty with email is that you have a direct route to your prospects, so take advantage of that and give them the information they want to see.
Think about how much you will already know about your offer holders just from their application. You’ll know what they’re interested in studying, a bit about their background, and possibly some of their wider interests. If those offer holders are chatting to your ambassadors you can learn even more about them - on TAP, our insights feature picks out what topics they’ve been talking about - this is incredibly valuable data.
You can take these insights and turn them into highly personalised emails that will not only give your prospects the information they’re looking for in a straightforward way, but also show you understand them as an individual, and you care enough about their needs to give them something bespoke.
How can you make the most of this? Well, you can create personalised links that will take people to a pre-filtered feed that is tailored to that prospect’s interests. Say, for example, it’s their subject you want to email them about - you can build a page that not only serves them content and FAQ answers that are highly relevant to their needs, but it will also pull the profiles of the most appropriate ambassadors for them to talk to. Think about how that would make a prospect feel - you’ve reached out and sent them one link to click that puts all of the information and ambassadors they’re looking right in front of them. It’s really powerful.
Even if you’re sending a broader reaching email - perhaps to all offer holders - you should still use it to showcase your experience and invite people to connect with your ambassadors. We’ve seen customers include mini profiles of ambassadors in these emails with a direct call-to-action to chat to them, as well as sharing ambassador-generated content that showcases the real student experience, and they’ve been highly effective.
By making it as straightforward as possible for your prospects to find what they’re looking for - which is almost certainly an idea of what the true experience of being part of your community is like - you’ll be ensuring your prospects can make a great decision about their future. When you then throw in the ability for them to talk directly to your ambassadors, whenever they like, and have their questions answered - no matter how big or small - well, it just makes sense, doesn’t it?
While none of this is a guarantee of success - ultimately, the decision can only be made by the prospective student - if you adopt this approach you will at least be able to feel confident that you’ve done everything you can to help your offer holders make an informed and confident decision about their future and let them decide if you’re a good fit for them and if they’re a good fit for you.
So, remember, when it comes to conversion: focus on sharing and embedding content that showcases the Experience of being part of your community, have it be Ambassador-led, and make it as Straightforward as possible for your offer holders to have access to lots of specific information, whenever they need it, you’ll be doing all that you can to give yourself the best chance of getting the Yes you’re hoping for.
E-A-S-Y - easy!