What is lead nurturing? And how to supercharge it

Are you and your team doing all you can to nurture prospective parents considering your school, delivering them the right content at the right time to build strong relationships?

This is lead nurturing. A ‘lead’ is a potential buyer: in schools this is the prospective parent. Each lead goes through a ‘buyer’s journey’ before deciding on your school, a process which can take weeks, if not months.

The five key stages of the buyer’s journey in schools are:

  • Awareness: The lead becomes aware of their need for a product or service — a school — and begins their search.
  • Interest: The lead comes across your school (and others) as the potential solutions to their need.
  • Consideration: Having researched the solutions, the lead considers their options against their personal selection criteria.
  • Decision: The lead has selected what they want and made the choice to buy — hopefully at your school.
  • Retention: The parent is now part of your school community, but you want to keep relationship strong, not only so they continue to stay at the school, but hopefully become an ambassador to their community.

But every ‘lead’ is a different person, who have their own individual needs. So how can you nurture and guide your leads effectively through this time?  

The right content, the right time, for each stage of the journey

Consider if you are treating a prospective parent in the interest stage as if they are ready to make a decision and immediately enrol their child? Think about the analogy of dating: it would be incredibly off-putting to ask someone to marry you on the first date! So, make sure you’re delivering stage-appropriate content with relevant calls-to-action (CTAs) to move them through the journey.

Awareness — As a lead starts to consider their need for a school, you may be able to reach them through social media or advertising. Content should be bite-sized, enough to whet the appetite for the prospective parent to learn more. Think a 30-second video focusing on a key benefit of your school with the CTA of ‘Discover more’.

Interest — Your website is crucial for this stage. Has the information been crafted with prospective parents in mind? Do you have a Prospectus available to download or a newsletter sign up? It is important for this content to be concise, informative and easy-to-find.

Consideration — This is when the lead calls your enrolments team, completes an online enquiry form or books a tour. Think about what communications you have for before, during and after your tours. Are you personalising the experience? This is where high-touch interactions with your enrolments team are critical.

Decision — This is where you can use the ‘Enrol Now’ CTA, but it is important to remove as much friction as possible in the enrolment process. Consider how you explain the enrolment process steps and the emails and communications you send at each step in the process, including all the way up to the child’s first day.

Retention — You likely have the foundational elements covered, such as a parent newsletter, but have you considered content to grow relationships such as articles and blogs? Do you promote avenues for feedback, such as surveys and reviews?

Implement automation to help lead nurturing

Marketing automation is simply using software to automate repetitive tasks for efficiency in the buyer’s journey. By reducing the need to manually send communications, this allows your team to focus on those high-value phone and face-to-face touchpoints. Most email service providers have simple automation already built in, so this is a good place to start but consider upgrading for more advanced capabilities.

The possibilities are endless, but an example of an automated journey could be:

  • A lead downloads a prospectus so you automatically send an email from the school Head thanking them and highlighting the key values and mission of the school.
  • Follow up with an email from the registrar including parent/student testimonials.
  • After a period of time, send an invitation to an upcoming tour.
  • If they book in for that, send them logistical information on the event (time, parking, etc), a reminder the day before the event and an invitation to enrol following the event.

Ensure each email is concise with one key focus. Depending on the capabilities of your systems, you may be able to set up automations to re-engage leads if they haven’t been in contact for significant amount of time.

So where to from here?

  • Identify where you have content gaps or content that needs updating to be more appropriate for the buyer’s stage.
  • Consider steps you can automate, see what your current system is capable of or explore alternatives.
  • Once you’ve mastered the basics, take it to the next level by making iterations of each automated email for different school levels, parent personas and even the child’s areas of interest.
Alissa Cass loves all things digital marketing and seeing schools embrace and maximise their marketing technologies and digital channels.

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