Before joining your college, your prospective students will go through a number of stages in what's known as the Sales (or Admissions) Funnel.
This funnel consists of the different stages a student goes through leading up to their enrolment - from looking at your website for the first time, to subscribing to your email list and reading your emails over a period of time, to talking to your admissions department and figuring out whether or not your school or college is right for them.
At any given time, your prospective customers are all at different points in their journeys toward applying and it's a marketer's job to give them the fuel to move them along the funnel toward enrolment.
In most cases, you can base your strategy around a three-stage funnel:
- Top of the Funnel: The "awareness" stage, where your prospective student is looking for answers, resources, education, research data, opinions, and insight.
- Middle of the Funnel: The "evaluation" stage, where they are doing heavy research on whether or not your school or college is a good fit for them.
- Bottom of the Funnel: The "purchase" stage, where your prospect is figuring out exactly what it would take to become a student.
Content for all stages
The best place to start when planning your content is by researching your buyer personas. That way you know exactly which persona your different pieces of content is aimed at, and that it will provide value for them.
Top of the Funnel: Awareness
Your prospective student acknowledges that they have a problem or a need to fill and will start by conducting a very broad search. The student is not yet ready to make a decision but is simply looking into the available options.
At this point, your prospect is trying to solve problems, get an answer, or meet a need. They’re looking for top-level educational content to help direct them to a solution, like blog posts, social content, and ebooks. Those who find your content helpful and interesting may journey on to the middle of the funnel.
Middle of the Funnel: Evaluation
When someone moves into the middle of your funnel, it means you’ve captured their attention. They have identified a need, and now they’re trying to discover the best solution.
While the top of the funnel is designed to educate a prospect, this is the stage where you want to show why your school or college in particular is the best fit (you also want to help people determine if they're not a good fit).
The middle of the funnel is typically a point of extended engagement where you’re nurturing a lead, building a relationship, and establishing trust between the prospect and your organisation. This is where the majority of open days and tours will take place.
Bottom of the Funnel: Purchase
The bottom of the funnel is where someone is making the actual purchase decision. They're ready to commit, but that still doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to choose you. That’s the last choice they have to make: where is the best fit school or college for their needs?
In most cases, leads at the bottom of your funnel just need that final nudge and that compelling call-to-action to get them to make a commitment. The right content at this stage, and an opportunity for your prospect to enjoy a taster experience, can have a dramatic impact on lifting your conversions.
Every school or college has a unique admissions funnel, sculpted and designed around their student's unique journey. It’s a recipe that can’t necessarily be replicated from one education provider to another.
That said, the general approach remains the same: Understand your audience, develop your funnel around your school or college and audience's intent, and create a documented content marketing strategy that maps custom content specifically to each phase of their journey through the funnel.
Do it well, and this process will have the greatest possible impact on your customer relationships, as well as the greatest possible lift in your overall conversions.
Book a free consultation with our Education Growth Specialist and kick start your inbound admissions strategy.
Use our free Education Buyer's Journey Worksheets to plan content for each stage of the funnel. With education-specific examples and content inspiration.