How to convert more Applicants into enrolled Students

    Cultivating Lasting Student Relationships with Full Fabric's Unified Communication Platform

    Last updated:
    March 21, 2024

    The dynamic between students and higher education providers is changing. Students aren’t just looking to just buy an education, they’re looking for community and experiences.

    Which is great for universities. If you can create these experiences and build a community, it has huge benefits. Student retention goes up, your reputation grows internationally, and you end up with an alumni that’s willing to support you with their time, money, and expertise.

    But it takes work to get to this point!

    You need to cultivate these relationships, from the moment they first hear about you to the day they retire. And I don’t say ‘relationships’ as just a marketing buzzword. I’m talking about meaningful relationships with give and take on both ends.

    The benefits I mentioned only come when the education provider has proven to their students that they deserve them. 

    That’s no mean feat, but in this blog post I’m going to tell you exactly how you can achieve exactly that. To make it easier to follow, I’ve broken it down into the following sections:

    1. Track your relationships
    2. Make new connections
    3. Keep them involved
    4. Automate, automate, automate
    5. Keep in touch
    6. Make their lives easy

    By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to cultivate lasting relationships with your students, from day one.

    Track your relationships

    Before you even think of doing anything else, you need somewhere to keep track of all your prospective, current, and past students or alumni.

    The reason this is important is that you can’t grow or develop relationships if you don’t know who the relationship is with. This is the heart of everything, where you can easily see their education history, contact details, and past communications you’ve had with them.

    The common way to achieve this is by using a CRM, which is a type of tool dedicated to storing this kind of information.

    There are loads of different CRMs available, all boasting their own fancy bells and whistles. These features are often super useful, but most CRMs are focused on B2B corporate sales. To get the functionality you need, you should find a CRM that specifically caters to higher education.

    As you’ll see as we go through the next few sections, this CRM forms the backbone of what you’re trying to achieve. Without a good CRM, you’ll struggle to build relationships and get the benefits that come with them.

    Make new connections

    Now you’ve got a CRM to track your relationships, it’s time to add some names! And this process should start way before someone even thinks about applying to your university.

    If there is anyone even remotely considering the premise of enrolling, you want to know who they are and how you can contact them. The way you do this is by creating a landing page form you can send them to. They can then fill in the form, giving you all the information you need. 

    In marketing speak, you’d call this “capturing leads”, but really you’re gathering the details of people you want to build connections with. Even if they don’t ultimately enrol with you, you still want them to come away with a great impression of your university.

    There are several places you’ll want to promote this form, such as:

    • Your website
    • In your marketing emails
    • On social media
    • University fairs
    • Paid ads
    • Third party portals

    When the prospect fills in this form, they will be added to the CRM, marking the start of your (hopefully blossoming) relationship.

    Keep in touch

    So, you put in all that hard work to fill your CRM with names of past, present, and future students. What now?

    Well, like any healthy relationship, you need to keep in touch regularly. And the easiest way to do this is by sending emails.

    Email marketing is one of the best ways to communicate with your students, but you’ve got to do it the right way. You can’t just spam your email list!

    You need to provide value and start meaningful discussions with your students. This could be advice, free resources, useful info, etc. The key is to give them a reason to keep reading your emails in the long-run.

    Only once you’ve built up that goodwill should you then use your emails to promote your insitution. And even then, you should always make it relevant based on their needs and preferences.

    Try to personalise your emails where possible, and don’t just focus on prospective students. Cultivating relationships means growing these connections over many years, even when they’ve left your university.

    Read our blog post 10 Email Marketing Best Practices for Higher Education for more tips on sending great emails

    Keep them involved

    Another fantastic way to grow your relationship with students is by holding events. Not only are they a great way to connect with more prospects, but they are also a good way to keep existing students engaged, and graduates invested.

    Here are just a few examples of events you could hold at your university:

    • Reunions and class gatherings
    • Networking events
    • Fundraisers
    • Career fairs
    • Open houses
    • Campus tours
    • Webinars

    Think of these events the same way you would catch up with old friends. You don’t have to have them every other day, but try to hold events frequently enough to keep your university front-of-mind.

    Your email newsletter is a great place to promote these events, and they can be the key to building a genuine community for your students.

    Automate, automate, automate

    It can be a lot of work maintaining your CRM, collecting leads, sending emails, etc. Which is why you should look for ways to automate your processes whenever you can.

    You could automatically update their details in the CRM when they fill in a form, or automatically send reminders about events, or even automatically invite them to an event a year after they leave.

    This can save you a lot of time, while still growing and nurturing your connection with the students.

    It can also make a huge difference when communicating with prospective students. The process of applying and joining a new education provider can be six months or more, so it’s essential to keep in touch with them during the process.

    This can be a lot of work, but if you automate these workflows, you can rest assured knowing they’re getting regular comms throughout that process.

    This is a great way to improve your yield, because you'll be front of mind, and they’ll appreciate you keeping in touch.

    Make their lives easy (Admissions & Enrolment Management)

    All of the things above are great, and will go a long way to building student relationships. But all of this will be for nothing if they don’t have a good experience while they’re applying and studying with you.

    Most universities just use a dated application form for new prospects, but you can make this experience so much better with a branded applicant portal. This way the content is personalised and can adapt to the specific applicant.

    A portal means they can easily log back in to review their application, check the status, and make any changes they want. 

    This shouldn’t stop once they’re enrolled, either. Provide a student portal so they can easily see their schedules, course materials, assignments, etc.

    It’s all about giving the students the best experience you can. These might seem like small things, but they actually make a huge difference to the students' quality of life while studying with you. 

    All of this, in one place

    It’s all well and good going through this list, telling you how to cultivate lasting student relationships. But I’m well aware that this can be quite intimidating, too.

    This can be a problem in its own right. Most universities have a very disjointed ecosystem, where they have to combine tools like Hubspot, EventBright, Google Forms, MailChimp, etc to even come close to achieving what we’ve talked about.

    But that’s exactly why we built Full Fabric — a unified platform that gives you all of these features.

    We give you a CRM, web forms, event management, email marketing, automation, admissions and enrolment management, all inside one web application. Because we know that’s what you need to connect with your students, and grow your university.

    Full Fabric is built specifically for top education institutions. To help them deliver a world-class experience to every student — past, present, and future.

    Want to check it out? Schedule a free demo to see how Full Fabric makes it easy to cultivate lasting relationships with all of your students.


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