Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Student recruitment... an Honor Roll for Online Inquiry Forms

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Student recruitment success: Short, simple online inquiry forms work best

Online inquiries are not easy to get. Would you like more of them?

Direct marketers have known for decades this simple truth: the longer you make an inquiry form, the fewer people will complete it. Keep things short enough so that a person can see the entire form as soon as the page opens. The first impression you're after: this won't take long to complete.

Even if the form is brief, asking for sensitive personal information as a relationship is about to begin is a good way to guarantee that it never starts. Not long ago I saw a form asking for gender preference in relationships. Bad idea. You don't need to know ethnic identity or a high school code or previous universities attended either.

Marketers Don't Let Databases Design Inquiry Forms

Fight database tyranny. Once I was asked to review an online inquiry form that very few people completed. It started by asking for the social security number. The excuse? "We need that for our database." Bad answer.

Long inquiry forms are OK if you want to limit the online inquiries you receive. If that's not the case, follow the links below to take a look at the online inquiry forms in this Honor Roll. If you know of any similar to these, send me a link to them.

The Original Honor Role of 6 Online Inquiry Forms

Here are six forms used for various types of students that set a standard few can match:
If you want to increase the number of online inquiries you receive, take inspiration for reform from these schools that dare to be different and make life easier for the person completing the form.

November 16: A New Honor Roll Addition
November 29: Great Inquiry Form after a Google Search
  • Drexel University... people who search for "online graduate engineering and technology program" are rewarded with this 4-line inquiry form to "Request More Information."
February 6: For musicians, only name, email, graduation date
February 15: A model for Continuing Education
  • University of British Columbia... You'll see the entire beautifully simple inquiry form as soon as the page opens. Email is easiest but you can call or fax or use regular mail to contact UBC Continuing Studies.
February 22: A short form that might be even shorter

That's all for now.

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