The hidden benefits of duplicate inquiries in higher ed

Duplicate entries are a common occurrence in higher education. They are a double edged sword, with both the ability to muddy up lead measurement, and the power to re-engage prospects on their path toward enrollment. When approached correctly, identifying them can lead to a completely transparent view of lead success and an opportunity to nurture with higher precision. As such, taking them into consideration in your higher ed marketing strategy can cut through potential waste.

 

Let’s dive into the what, how, and why of duplicate inquiries, and their impact on your digital marketing campaigns. When looking at duplicate inquiries, we first break them into categories by levels of intent as well as the best approach for engagement. We’re also giving a grade to each category, for a quick recap of the typical success of each:

1. Old inquiries

Typically 180+ days from their last inquiry or contact with anybody at the school. These users are prospects who have spoken with admissions before, or at least submitted their information for contact, but did not enroll.

These users are often extremely high-intent, are already familiar with your brand, and often don’t need much assistance or selling in order to convert.

Inquiry Grade: A

2. Multiple form submissions

Usually occurring within the same day and website session. While not as high in value as an Old Inquiry duplicate, these users demonstrate interest and are often browsing the site to get more information about multiple different areas. This could be info related to additional campuses, programs, or financial aid.

While persistent, these potential students don’t know exactly what they’re looking for and will require a lot more information and ask more questions. While more time consuming, these are often viewed as higher intent and higher converting than a standard inquiry.

Inquiry Grade: B+

3. Still searching

These users have recently been in contact with admissions, however, still felt the need to submit an inquiry form while on the site. This is both a positive and negative sign, showing the prospect likely ran into a negative touchpoint or didn’t receive the information they wanted, however, is still interested despite that touchpoint and is reaching back out to the school.

These potential students should be handled with care and an understanding approach. Often they do have a negative feeling already, but are confident enough in your brand that they’re able to move past that as long as there aren’t any further negative touchpoints.

Inquiry Grade: C+

*This group could overlap slightly with Multiple Form Submission duplicates in an instance where they have not been reached out to or contacted by admissions within a timely manner of their first inquiry.

4. Prior students

Varying from graduates to students who have been out at least a semester, this group has already attended courses at your institution. These students are extremely high intent as they are reaching out for information on how to get back into a program and continue their education, or are looking for an advanced degree program. As a school they’re familiar with and have been a student at, we often find these prospects to be among the highest intent possible, sometimes converting at higher rates than even referrals.

These students will be driven and likely know what they’re looking for. In these instances, the best course of action is to provide any missing information, while including next steps and opening up the opportunity to enroll as soon as possible.

Inquiry Grade: A+

Now that we’ve classified duplicate inquiries into categories along with some touchpoints on how to engage with each, it’s important to have processes in place before a duplicate inquiry is sent to admissions to be contacted. Start with these three focuses:

 

Identification

As leads come in, comparing the user information submitted to prior records can appropriately flag if they’re a new inquiry or a category of duplicate. Often users will submit with a different phone number or email address, so it’s best to look at each individually.

History

Once you’ve identified if an inquiry is a duplicate or not, it’s important to know how they should be categorized and to provide the admissions team with all applicable information.  

Communication

When communicating with duplicate inquiries, it’s important to acknowledge their status and prior touchpoints with the institution. While duplicates vary in quality and levels of intent, being recognized and having a discussion with someone who already knows their prior touchpoints can greatly help inquiry conversion.

The next step is applying all of this insight to your higher ed marketing strategy.

 

When looking at your school’s digital campaigns, it’s important to understand how duplicates fit into your plans and goal setting. Because even though identifying duplicate inquiries isn’t the only factor included when lead-scoring, you also have to determine how to best report on and engage these prospects. Here are three of the top ways we’ve seen institutions successfully handle duplicates and prior inquiries within their higher ed strategy:

1. Never pay for prior inquiries

With this strategy, the institution does everything they can to avoid paying for duplicates, including excluding prior converter audiences from digital ad strategies, as well as making real-time updates based on website actions (which prevent users from continuously seeing ads on other searches or during remarketing efforts).

2. Re-engage inquiries after a set period of time

With the most common being three or six month periods since an inquiry form submission, adding users back into your marketing mix allows for additional touchpoints with interested users who are still searching for a school or related programs. This helps support admission efforts without putting an additional burden on your internal teams.

3. Continuous engagement

Engaging users with brand content from their first touchpoint through enrollment is a difficult process but can be extremely impactful. The key to utilizing this strategy is ensuring your messaging is paired with the appropriate audiences and users in the correct lifecycle stages. Updating these audiences appropriately is essential to the success of this tactic. While the strategy is best suited to school’s unique student journeys, the following are common examples of points along the messaging path:

    • Needs to contact an admission rep
    • Needs to schedule and interview
    • Awaiting for classes to start
    • Students on a waitlist

While this strategy requires the largest amount of setup, it’s often the most efficient at helping a school grow its marketing footprint and take a step toward increased enrollments.

 

However your school decides to handle duplicate inquiries, incorporating them into your higher ed marketing strategy is essential. Identifying duplicates, and opportunities to re-engage them within your digital efforts, is a must for increasing enrollments in a cost-efficient manner.

Want to know how to identify and incorporate your duplicated inquiries into your higher ed marketing strategy? Let’s talk.

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