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ENROLLMENT

How Dialer Strategy Can Help Small Colleges Increase Admissions

Scott Smith
June 12, 2024
4 mins

TL;DR:

  • Dialer strategy is a powerful tool for driving enrollment growth at small colleges.
  • Personalized and well-timed phone calls can break through student resistance.
  • Targeted call lists and multi-channel outreach can improve efficiency and results.
  • Testing and optimizing your approach is key to success.
  • Now is the time to ramp up your call center and provide that last nudge for prospective students.

Getting Strategic with Your College's Call Center

When it comes to driving enrollment growth, one of the most impactful yet underutilized strategies is a dialer strategy - strategically reaching out to prospective students via phone calls. As the Head of Enrollment Marketing at Rize, I've seen firsthand how effective phone outreach can be. However, it does require strategy and targeting to implement effectively without blowing your whole budget.

In this post, I'll break down how admissions and enrollment teams at smaller colleges and universities can make phone outreach work, even with limited budgets and bandwidth. While today's students may not love receiving calls in general, well-timed and personalized calls can provide tremendous value and increase your conversion rates throughout the funnel.

Overcoming Student Resistance to Phone Calls

It's no secret that most high school students don't eagerly await phone calls from college admissions counselors. Between robo-calls from political campaigns and telemarketers, their skepticism is understandable. However, when done right, authentic and well-timed calls can break through the noise.

A human voice can build trust quickly. Calls are most effective when personalized and focused on high-value activities like nudging a student to complete an application, register for a tour, or submit financial aid forms. Identify the biggest drop-off points in your enrollment funnel and develop call strategies to target those opportunities.

Be Ruthlessly Targeted with Your Outreach Lists

Mass blasting every prospective student with repetitive calls will only annoy students and waste your team's time. Create targeted call lists focused on prospective students demonstrating active engagement already. Break these into segments around specific calls-to-action, whether that's campus tour sign-ups, application completion, or nudging students ready to deposit.

Empower your counselors to specialize around these segmented call objectives to improve efficiency and results.

Combine Calls with Coordinated Outreach Across Channels

Don't stop at calls alone. Voicemails, text messages, and emails can make your outreach more effective across channels.

Customize follow-ups based on student preferences and behaviors. If they are more responsive to texts, send a text after leaving a voicemail. If they are email-first, send an email recap. This multi-channel coordination improves response rates and conversions on all channels. Calls will end up boosting email open rates and vice versa, and the overall contact rate is what you can optimize for.

Test and Optimize Your Approach

Don't be afraid to make outreach mistakes as you build your dialer capabilities. Use A/B testing to validate effectiveness before scaling up calls. And remember, there is more tolerance for contacting top prospects than you may expect. That temporary annoyance for a few weeks before decision day could pay off with years of enrollment and tuition revenue.

Seize the Moment

Between demographic cliffs, economic uncertainty, and financial aid complexities, enrollment teams have plenty of urgent fires demanding their attention. Now is the time to strategically invest with ramping up your call center. As daunting as it may seem, personalized calls can provide that last nudge students need before matriculating at your institution.

In an increasingly competitive landscape, institutions will need to actively compete for their slice of students. Your admissions outreach is among the most important pieces to invest in.

What call strategies are you finding most effective for your college? Let me know by reaching out to me at ssmith@rize.education.

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