Initial response to an inquiry... If you ask for an email address, use it
"You should expect to hear from us soon by mail as well as by email."
That was the immediate auto response on the website from one of the 6 schools in our review of inquiry forms and responses to inquiries that started last week. Inquiries were made Wednesday night (June 20) and Thursday morning (June 21) at 6 colleges and universities in New York and New England. Read about the inquiry forms themselves in the first posting in this series
How many email contacts after the first 2 immediate responses? Just one. And that was not from the school that promised an email response "soon." Haven't heard anything from that place yet.
Reasonable people may disagree about the definition of "soon" but from a marketing perspective a week without a response goes beyond a reasonable definition.
First response received: Encouraging a visit to campus
The first response arrived on Tuesday, June 26. And that's OK since it came from one of the schools that also sent a brief email response right after the inquiry was made.
- The response opened by using the first name of the person making the inquiry. Good. It did not close with the name of anyone at the institution. Not so good. Each school in our group claims in some way that is is a "warm and friendly" place with plenty of personal attention. One small step to living the promise is to end any contact with the name of a real person. In this case, the best person is the recruiter the potential student will have contact with during the recruitment process.
- The email included detailed information about the campus visit schedule this summer, with special attention to scheduling personal interviews in advance. As you'd expect, the email included a link back to the website for more campus visit information and another for directions to campus. Neither link was broken and both went to the expected content.
The marketing lesson: conversion starts with rapid response
In this time of very competitive enrollment, I'd expect a faster online response to an inquiry from a potential student. Right after an inquiry is received is prime time to make reinforce the positive feeling that created the inquiry in the first place. Each day that passes with no response decreases the conversion potential.
If you ask for an email address, silly people might expect you to use it. If you don't plan on using it "soon" it might be best to avoid disappointment and not ask for it at all.
Look for another update in this "Student Recruitment" category next week.
Attend a Summer Conference
July 11-13, Chicago: ACT Enrollment Planners Conference. Pre-conferences workshop on Digital Marketing Strategy and a regular session on "Increasing Online Inquiries: Key Steps to Improve Search Optimization for Academic Programs." Visit the conference website at bit.ly/tnvnhR July 30-August 1, Boston: eduWeb2012. Pre-conference digital marketing strategy workshop and regular session presentation on "Top Task Website Design." Conference website is at bit.ly/z391iU