How many inquiries did we get last week?
Though the year of 2020 has brought many challenges to higher education, inquiry management challenges still plague today’s top institutions. That moment when a prospect makes an inquiry is like a new day with the sun cresting just over the horizon — anything seems possible. But, then misaligned procedures and an un-unified definition distracts from the ultimate goal, enrolling a new graduate.
How do you overcome the inquiry management challenges in a way that both marketing and admissions can utilize? Isn’t there a simpler way to track a prospect’s path to a better future?
And the answer is yes! First, let’s recap that first question…
How may inquiries did we get last week?
Simple question, not so simple answer.
There may be differences within the institution on what constitutes an inquiry. For example:
A Marketing Director may look at the total number of overall inquiries if they are focused on a cost per inquiry and inquiry volume goal.
A Director of Admissions will likely want to remove unworkable inquiries from the inquiry count if they are focused on interview or enrollment rates.
A President may look at the total number of starts and not the base line of the total amount of inquiries if they are focused on graduate potential.
Then you have the classified “Unworkable inquiry”. An unworkable inquiry could be a returned PPL prospect, a disconnected phone number, or an inquiry that requests to be placed on the Do Not Call list. It’s not just unworkable inquiries and people’s definitions of an inquiry that cause confusion. Many other questions can arise during the process.
What should be done with duplicate inquiries? If someone requests information on Monday and then again on Thursday is that being counted as two inquiries or as one?
What if someone requested information six months ago and then requested information again last week? Would they be counted as a separate inquiry or merged to be just one?
What if a graduate of an associate degree program requests information about a Bachelor’s degree? Are they a new inquiry at that point?
All of these questions should be answered by the relevant parties and agreed upon if an institution of higher education plans to overcome the challenges of inquiry management. Meaning, this section of the challenge lies with you and your organization, and not something an outside source should be answering on your behalf.
Simplifying Inquiry Management
Now let’s talk about simplification and data management.
Like you just read, it begins with having all pertinent parties within the school agreeing on the questions stated above and these two key points:
- What data do you want to collect
- How that data will be classified
However the inquiry data is organized (organized being the optimal word), it’s imperative that there be consistency and some longevity to the inquiry generating marketing campaign(s). Making changes quickly may seem like a smart move, but it can actually cause more problems.
Too many changes this year will affect more than this year’s actual results.
Like you have heard many times before, garbage in, garbage out. If your current data is flawed, that inaccurate data will be next year’s historical data. That is why it is essential to come to a consensus on common language, determined categories on type of inquiry, and the duration of the campaign. And probably more important, a CRM system that can help all departments work cohesively together with the same data.
Inquiry Management Consistency Across All Channels
Identifying the type of inquiry and how it will be tracked should be consistent across all channels as much as possible.
For example, if an inquiry is considered a qualified prospect through an organic website conversion, the criteria should be the same as your pay per click (PPC) campaigns. If duplicates are counted one way for the school’s website and one way for say social media ads, then the data can be flawed.
This is not a one size fits all approach. But it is possible to align the goals and tracking of admissions with that of marketing and vice versa.
There are many more challenges to inquiry management for higher education like
- First contact or speed to inquiry
- Channel usage
- Multiple touch points
- Data Accuracy
- Campaign optimization (at the right time)
And more. However, this would then be an entire white paper instead of a blog but that does sound like a great idea so be on the lookout for one.
Every college and university will have their unique marketing challenges and MDT Marketing has been helping them overcome them through innovation and years of study.
Inquiry Management Assistance
Want help in setting up an organized inquiry management system? Need some new technology to help link all of your efforts together?
The best way to maximize your marketing budget is to get assistance from experts on which platforms offer the highest intent, pin-pointed interests, the best location for your budget, and which are worth testing for your specific programs.
Be sure your provider takes the time to have a thorough discussion of your marketing goals, budget, and definition of a successful SEM campaign outcome before jumping into an ad campaign that may only be padding the search engine’s pockets.