How universities can use automation to connect with potential students
Meet Midori Maloney.
You know that circus performer who somehow finds a way to keep a dozen precariously spinning plates balanced on tall, skinny poles? That’s Midori. As the graduate studies marketing coordinator (and recruiter… and event planner… and budget analyst…and assistant to the graduate dean) for The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Midori is a one-woman powerhouse when it comes to balancing a busy schedule and keeping all of her plates spinning.
The problem: Too many emails... only one Midori
Despite her superhuman efficiency, Midori had serious trouble keeping up with the number of student inquiries her department was receiving on a day-to-day basis. “I would email each student individually,” she explained, “so it was really difficult for me to keep up with all the inquiries. I’d get constant notifications from the Webmaster saying, ‘Here’s this inquiry, here’s this one,’ and so on. It was pretty overwhelming.”
The solution: Responding to student inquiries through smart automation
Her simple fix? Automation. After turning to Emma, Midori was able to set up an automated workflow that helps her department establish and maintain contact with potential grad students. "I'm just one of me, so automation has made my job so much easier. Now I just take all those inquiries and add them to our workflow. It does all the heavy lifting for me!"
Prospective students receive an email from Midori as soon as they fill out a form inquiry on the UAH website. “First, they get an immediate response that says we’ve received your inquiry — stay tuned for an actual message from me."
The next email serves as the official response email. “It essentially says, 'I noticed you’ve inquired, how can I help you?' I want it to sound as personable as possible — that’s the goal of all of my email campaigns, to keep them really personalized so that students always feel comfortable reaching out to me."
About two weeks later, students receive a follow-up email that checks up on how their application process is going. “This email is crucial, because it sometimes catches students who I’ve told to contact so-and-so, but who may have never gotten a response from them. That way I’m able to confirm that every student gets the attention they need."
The results: A more personal connection means more applications
People often associate automation with cold, generic messages — but for Midori, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. By using an automated workflow, she's able to send a warm welcome to everyone who inquires about the graduate program and ensure that no student slips through the cracks. “I want to be a liaison for students because navigating the university process alone isn’t easy. And once they enroll, I’m taking them from application to matriculation to graduation, so it’s important to establish a good relationship as early as possible.”
Midori maintains that same approachable feel every time she crafts an email. “I try and achieve something along the lines of, 'You knocked — how can I help?’"
And keeping things personable really works — just check out these numbers!
Midori’s automated "Website Inquiry" workflow has sustained an impressive rate of 61.8% opens and 21.5% clicks.
19% of the potential students who inquired went on to apply.
61% of those who applied actually enrolled!
Fees generated from those applications: ~$5500
Tuition generated from enrollments of those who applied: ~$227,000
When asked what she would tell other university marketers about Emma, Midori pointed to these three things:
1. Customer service. Emma has a fantastic, responsive and dedicated staff of customer service and support professionals.
2. Simplicity. You don’t have to be an email marketing pro to get great results with Emma.
3. Resources. For many universities, it’s difficult to find funding for professional development. Because of this, Midori often turns to Emma: “I use you guys as an example of how to market and as a resource to learn more about email marketing. Your webinars and the materials you provide have been really useful to our department.”