In my opinion the traditional admission funnel is broken.
I believe this for two reasons:
1. The Rise in Ghost Inquiries
Ghost inquiries are those inquiries where the first point of contact
with the prospective family is when they submit their application. The
implications of ghost inquiries are huge.
Sure it was great that you received the application but what about
all those families that researched your school and decided not to
apply. The family has made a decision about your school without you
having a voice in the conversation. I often wonder how many families
have considered Sewickley Academy but never completed an inquiry form.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The implications are huge.
The traditional funnel model where a family would express interest in
your school by calling the admission office with the purpose of
receiving your admission packet are over. When the family made their
inquiry they were in essence giving you permission to market to them
about your school. Those days are over!
The new model, as suggested by the ghost inquiry, is that families
are doing their research about your school using Google, review sites
like Great Schools, viewing your school’s social media channels, and
talking to families and friends about their individual opinions.
When a family completes an inquiry form now they have already made their decision that they are interested in your school.
Are you thinking about your marketing and admission processes in this new light?
2. The Funnel Signifies an End to the Process
I often walk around the office and say that it’s easier to re-enroll a
student than it is to enroll a student. Where is re-enrollment
represented in the traditional admission funnel?
Another reason that I think the traditional admission funnel is dead
is that the point of the funnel signifies an end – that once a student
is enrolled their journey is complete. I think that their journey is
only beginning with your school.
There has been a change toward this line of thinking in recent years
as evidenced in the advancement model at schools as well as admission
directors assuming the title of Director of Enrollment. Schools have
increasingly spent more time strategically thinking about retention and
my school even has a committee where we discuss retention beginning in
the early winter of the school year.
What replaces the funnel?
This is a great question and one that I’ve been struggling with for
sometime. While I’m honestly not sure what form the new funnel should
take I have recently settled on the The Enrollment Rings.
Here is the general concept – a student moves from one ring to the
next based upon their level of attraction or commitment to the school.
The goal of the school is to move a child into the ring in the middle
which signifies an Evangelist for the school.
Here are the Rings:
Ring 1: Awareness (of your school)
Ring 2: Interest (in your school)
Ring 3: Application (to your school)
Ring 4: Enrollment
Ring 5: Re-enrollment
Ring 6: Alumni
Ring 7: Evangelist
The Enrollment Rings help to address the two weaknesses above of the
traditional admission funnel: 1. A school cannot simply focus upon Ring
2: Interest (or Inquiry) any more, they must also focus on raising
awareness of your school for mission appropriate families, 2. The
Enrollment Rings have no end, as the funnel does, once a family reaches
Ring 7: Evangelist a school will have to work hard in order to keep the
family in Ring 7. There is never an end, or finish line – schools must
continue to cultivate individual families to keep them in the Evangelist
Reminder: If you also believe the traditional admission funnel is
dead do you agree with the Enrollment Rings or do you believe something
else has taken the funnel’s place? Please share your thoughts
About Brendan Schneider
J. Schneider is the Director of Admission and Financial Aid at
Sewickley Academy. He is one of the leaders in the field for teaching on
and knowledge about inbound marketing for schools. He presents and
consults on inbound marketing, branding, marketing technology, and
social media at the regional and national levels. With his workshops,
the SchneiderB.com blog, and over 40,000 tweets of insight over the last
four years, he continues to advance the abilities of the independent
school admission, communication and marketing professional.
Brendan is also a Board of Director for the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals.
Find him on Google+. Subscribe to his blog and receive his Social Media System for Schools ebook for FREE. Download the eBook now!