A popular topic that we discuss with schools relates to the different types of parent inquiries.
As parents gain decision-making power and change the way they search for school options, the variety of inquiry types increases.
Not long ago, we were used to prospective families walking up to the front desk or, at least, attending our good old Open House with their friend.
It is not that simple anymore.
Now there are many different types of inquiries. Prospects or leads, whatever you call them, can be categorized on a spectrum from warm to cold.
Very warm leads have a lot of trust in your school brand, they are emotionally connected with you and are almost ready to enroll. These are great to have, but they are inherently limited in number.
Cold leads need more work since they barely know you, but they are plentiful.
Let’s start by listing the lead or inquiry types from warm to cold:
1) The Word of Mouth Inquiry (Warmest)
These are obviously the best inquiries to have!
A current parent refers their close friend or neighbor. Typically, they are of a similar mindset or profile to the current parent. The inquiring parent has observed their friend’s children and approves of the influence your school is having on them.
Enrollhand is not the source of these inquiries since these are people who directly or indirectly know you. However, we do see an uptick in these leads once the campaigns start running, simply because people get reminded of your school. This might provoke a discussion and could trigger that long-awaited decision. What we provide here is a gentle nudge over the fence.
Word of mouth inquiries have a high probability of converting to tours and enrollments, often close to 50%. There is not much you can do wrong with them. A long form, an old website, these things don’t matter as much as a recommendation from a friend.
The only negative side to these inquiries is their number. You cannot grow your school solely based on referrals. They are also quite unpredictable, even if you have a great parent ambassador program in place.
2) Stealth Inquiry (Warm)
Unfortunately, we see an increasing amount of stealth inquiries across all our schools. These are parents that have been doing all their research without revealing their identity. They are looking at websites and review sites, creating spreadsheets with data from different schools, consuming your ads, blogs, and other available information, all without providing their contact details.
Then suddenly, if they have chosen you, they will reveal themselves by filling out a long form on your website or one of our landing pages, and they will be ready to enroll.
Enrollhand campaigns have the indirect effect of increasing trust and emotional connection in your school with these parents so that they increasingly choose you over other options.
3) The Casual Inquiry (Lukewarm)
Take a minute and think of how we usually bounce around online. You go to a website, click on different buttons, and then leave. You see an ad, click through, and then leave. You talk to a friend. Here’s a common parent journey:
- Kate is concerned that her son is always bored, and nothing interests him.
- Kate was chatting with her friend on Facebook Messenger the other day. Her friend advised her to see someone.
- However, after skimming through 7 blog posts off a Google search, it seems there’s nothing to worry about.
- Then, the Unruffled (Respectful Parenting) podcast had some useful tips on yesterday’s episode.
- Finally, a Facebook Page she discovered (by scrolling through a #MomItForward Twitter chat) got her worried again.
Today's parent journey is a mess.
What we do with our campaigns is that we smooth out this process by taking the parent through the three stages of awareness.
At each stage, we simply want them to enter the next stage. This is called a micro-commitment. We do not ask them for a big commitment at the beginning of the process. They have not yet built up the trust or emotional connection that a word of mouth inquiry has.
Therefore, at the inquiry stage, we will again ask for a small commitment. Our form will be small, maybe we only ask for a name and phone number. We will then use our follow-up service to gradually increase the commitment and get them onto a call or schedule a visit with you.
These leads convert to tours and enrollments at a smaller percentage than warmer leads, yet the great thing is they are abundant. We usually have access to thousands or tens of thousands of such leads.
4) The Content Download Inquiry (Cold)
We try to reveal the identities of stealth parents by offering valuable content and getting them to download something like an infographic or an e-book. That way, we can take control of the discussion and try to bring you into contact with them before another school does.