Lead generation strategies

Understanding Higher Ed Lead Generation

2022-08-24 · 4 min read

Move beyond stale, shared database leads

Lead generation is always difficult, but in the higher ed landscape, you're recruiting potential students, not just email addresses and phone numbers. The ultimate goal—enrolment—is higher stakes than a simple one-time purchase of a good or service. 

It’s not an easy lift. Higher ed lead generation should demonstrate the university or programme’s unique aspects while gathering vital data on the prospective student. A good strategy combines branding and marketing. So, what makes a good lead generation strategy… good?

A lead is an opportunity

Let’s say you sell vacuum cleaners. Someone offers you the contact information of 10 people who may be interested. This person isn’t selling you a guaranteed purchase, of course, just the opportunity to sell a vacuum cleaner.

Should you buy these leads? It depends. Specifically, it depends on two factors: how the leads were generated and the quality of the leads. 

Lead gen: The fresher, the better, and organic is best

It will do you little good if the vacuum leads are a year old—they’ve likely solved the problem without your help. The more recently the leads were generated, the better.

How the leads were generated matters as well. If we ask a random 10 people if they want cleaner floors, we may get contact information and a ‘Yes.’ But are we speaking to the person in the house who buys household appliances? Do we know whether the household owns a vacuum currently? If they have wood floors or rugs? Without the context and data around the contact information, it’s hard to judge its value.

The same is true for higher ed lead generation.

The more information you can get from the leads, the more likely you are to be able to successfully pitch your school or programme to them.

Go organic when you can

The best kinds of leads are those who already have some basic knowledge and interest in your school or programme, such as those visiting your university or programme website. These students have organic, authentic interest - but may not be willing to share contact information. At least, not without gaining something in return. 

Information, especially information about the unique selling points of a programme or university and how they suit that student, is likely to encourage a prospective student to submit their details.

We’ve found one of the most effective ways to do this is to ask well-researched, carefully-constructed questions showcasing the university and programme. This allows the prospect to think about how their interests align with the programme or school as they answer the questions, and leads to 7-in-10 hitting submit.

If it’s not quality, then the quantity hardly matters

We’ve established the need for data to determine whether a lead is worth buying. We need to know how fresh the lead is, how to reach them and whether the person listed in the contact is actually the person who makes a decision about a vacuum cleaner.

In the higher ed marketing and recruiting landscape, there are many markers of lead quality. Whether the lead meets the basic admissions criteria, when they want to start studying, whether they are interested in on-campus/online/hybrid learning, what type of programme interests them, whether they have experience living abroad, what they have studied before, how strong their language skills are and more. 

Gathering this information at the point of contact means it’s easy to know which leads are high-quality and should be pursued. It also means the data is fresh, dynamic and directly related to your programme and university, rather than mined from a stale database. 

And for full effect: Leverage that qualifying data

All the information gathered on a lead to determine whether time and resources should be devoted to converting that lead from interested student to applicant can also make it easier to convert them. 

Which pitch would be most effective: ‘Hi, I hear you’re interested in having cleaner floors. Let me tell you about our product that cleans floors.’ Or: ‘Hi, Jan. I understand you have a three-bedroom rowhouse over two floors with rugs, hardwood and tiles. Let me tell you about how light and easy to carry our vacuum is, and how it performs well on all these surfaces.’

In other words, using the data generated by the first point of contact with the lead, you can personalise your communication, whether that is a phone call or an email. 

At House of Education, we create personalisation at scale by automating emails that pull in data about the recipient from their responses to our Digital Advisor. This creates the most timely, relevant and successful email campaigns - with an open rate of 51%, much higher than the industry open rate of 28%.

What to look for, and where to find it

The value of freshly-generated, dynamic leads is clear: They’re the leads most likely to convert. You can capture the leads visiting your website, or you can use paid media to reach new audiences. A custom-built Digital Advisor can generate these leads - ask us to learn more

If you’d rather just get the lead itself, House of Education also offers direct sales of leads. Choose your markets, volume, channel, pace, programmes and ideal lead profile. We set up a dedicated campaign for you and make sure to reach your targets.

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