The global health crisis has forced organisations around the world to adapt. Many businesses have pivoted, some for the duration of the pandemic and others for the foreseeable future. In a sense, the situation has acted as a catalyst for emerging trends, catapulting them into the here and now. For higher education institutions, the biggest changes come in the form of online learning and admissions.
Photo by Erik Mclean.
Fortunately, many universities already have the infrastructure in place to be able to implement these changes relatively seamlessly. Some are even planning to make some of their new approaches permanent. In April, we spoke with six higher education experts in our webinar “How Can Universities Mitigate COVID-19’s Impact?”
Katarina Hägg from Stockholm School of Economics explained that their online outreach seminar - which would usually be conducted in person - attracted a record 250 delegates from all over the world. Hägg also suggested that conducting study trips locally could have a positive impact, in that it would engage local stakeholders and benefit the local community.
But what about the admissions journey? In the absence of face-to-face interviews, open days and admissions fairs, how can teams attract candidates and nurture prospective students through the pipeline? Let’s explore a few ideas...
1. Utilise admissions software
We believe that one of the first steps to managing admissions effectively when working remotely is to have quality admissions software in place. If you’re still relying on spreadsheets to manage the admissions process or if you’re working with a legacy system you’re going to find the organisational side of the process especially challenging.
FULL FABRIC’s end-to-end CRM is a cloud based mobile compatible solution, enabling users to do everything remotely. This ranges from attracting leads and automating content to qualifying prospects and nurturing relationships.
The second step is to ensure that everyone on the team is able to unlock your software’s capabilities. In the admissions office, different members of the team might be working in different areas, however we think it’s a good idea to make everyone aware of what your software can do. After all, someone might have to jump in and take over at short notice, so it helps to have at least an overview of its capabilities.
Does your team know how to do the following?
- Create landing pages and enquiry forms
- Track engagements using analytics
- Track communication history
- Segment your database
- Customise pages
- Automate tasks
One of the reasons admissions CRMs are able to facilitate remote working so well is because they can capture everyone’s interactions with a student, making it easier to share information, set tasks and collaborate. Transparency is key when it comes to managing a remote team. The absence of it could result in mistakes, confusion and duplicated work.
2. Create virtual tours
Virtual tours have been popular since universities started to embrace them in 2012, especially among international students and those who want to cast their net wide before narrowing down their options.
360 degrees virtual tours enable students from anywhere in the world to get an insight into your campus from their living room. The best virtual tours can be accessed on both mobile and desktop - some institutions have their own virtual tour apps that prospective students can download. As well as a virtual tour, consider including a map of the campus and images of key details, objects, artefacts and equipment.
Things to include in your virtual tour:
- Lecture halls and seminar rooms
- Shared spaces such as libraries, cafes, bars and theatres
- Student Union
- Student accommodation
- Local amenities
3. Host live Q&A sessions
Live Q&As are a great way to engage prospective students in a truly valuable and authentic way. You can set these up with subject specialists, current students, alumni and representatives from the admissions department. Get people to send in the questions before the event as well as during, and make sure you save the video on social media or your website so people can watch it at a later date.
Drip feed details of the event on your social channels to build up anticipation and utilise your segmentation to send email reminders out relevant groups. You could also get faculty members to deliver live “taster lectures” in their subject areas; this can also give prospective students an idea of what online learning could look like at your institution.
In the business world, the number of online conferences being delivered is huge. With this in mind, why not organise a virtual open day? As well as virtual tours, videos and downloadable content, you could invite various stakeholders to speak. The beauty of hosting an online event is that people from all over the world can attend.
Of course, it’s also important to remember to be empathetic towards your admissions team at this unprecedented time. We’re all on a huge learning curve, and it’s impossible for anyone to be productive 100% of the time. Be sure to check in on an individual level as often as you can to see how they’re coping with their workload and lockdown life more generally.
If you’d like to find out more about how FULL FABRIC’s CRM for admissions could benefit your institution now and in the future, request a demo today.