Online applications for admissions are going to be the new norm for educational institutions given the pandemic-induced transition to virtual operations. Managing admissions might seem a daunting task considering the various digital marketing approaches and tools to be used to bring leads into the customer funnel. Given this predicament for institutions that have largely depended on offline media to garner applications for their course offerings, a host of admissions management softwares can alleviate the anxiety tied to the admissions season. It is imperative, however, to continue planning for the intakes just as in an offline preparatory mode. The process to be set up doesn’t look different for both offline and online modes. Readily available information to the student prospects, the availability of academic counselors to resolve queries and provide guidance, application form payments, real-time notifications on strong leads are some parts of the admissions workflow that need to be planned with meticulousness.
Zeroing in on an admission management software after considering the institution’s requirements is ideal as there may be a part of the workflow that can be managed outside the software’s platform. For example, if an institution carries out its outreach and marketing efforts in traditional media like newspapers, academic networks, and word-of-mouth. In such cases, the management will only need the platform to sort and filter applications and pass them on to respective counselors. In other cases, seen more commonly now, is the use of digital marketing to promote the brand, its faculty, and course offerings. The institution will require the admissions software to perform lead generation activities up to the onboarding of successful applicants in the portal. Prior to an investment in such platforms, it is best to assess the most relevant school admissions management software features for the educational institution and set the admissions process in motion.
Keeping in mind the above, some of the good-to-have features in admissions management softwares are:
- Multi-channel enquiry management:
The floating of applications is sometimes done through multiple channels and in formats, depending on the location of the institution and its groups as well as the varied platforms online. Therefore, enquiries on courses and faculty could come in from anywhere. A must-have feature of admissions management software is the ability to consolidate and sort these data points in a way that makes sense for the admissions staff or counselors. Making this data available in real-time also maximises the response time.
- Automated communications:
Setting up workflows to send out timely and automated communications to student prospects provides for a better application experience and increases the credibility of the brand of institution. In admissions software, this feature is usually referred to as marketing automation. Communications pertaining to drip email campaigns, SMSes, and other formats can be pre-fabricated and launched when the need arises. Apart from this, digital marketing and social media campaigns can also be included to plan branding and communication activities and execute them effectively.
- Lead scoring:
This feature, available in most admissions management platforms, helps with identifying the interest demonstrated by the student prospects by ranking and qualifying them. They are later pushed to the sales funnel into the appropriate workflows without manual interventions and further course of actions can be decided. The level of interest is ascertained by behaviors online such as website page visits, clicks, search terms etc.
- Counselor assignment and productivity:
An important component of a seamless admissions experience is the responsiveness of academic counselors to answer queries that the prospects might have and take them through the journey they can expect after being enrolled in the institution. To ensure this process goes on smoothly, timely notifications regarding the incoming applicants and their position in the enrolment funnel must be made available to the counselors and recruitment division. Cases can be divided with existing capacities and early alerts to increase the staff available based on the volume of students expressing interest in the institution can be set beforehand.
- Fees management and document verification:
The instances of application form fee payments are larger than enrollment fees and good admissions software helps the management of an institution manage this process. Gone are the days when parents and students had to wait in line at the admissions office, make payments, submit and collect necessary paperwork. This tedious procedure costs an institution’s time as well, not just parents’ and students’. Minor fee payments through payment gateways are possible with the admissions platform and reports can be generated on the most popular course preference by students for any particular academic year.
The strenuous admissions season might be a thing of the past. As the education sector evolves digitally, engaging with candidates on time is not a key challenge anymore, thanks to the predictive tools and real-time insights made available to decision-makers and staff interacting with potential candidates.