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We worked with an FE College to understand the reasons behind them only having a 60% conversion rate, applicant to enrolment.  We carried out a full review of the college’s application process, starting from the application form itself, right through to enrolment and even late arrivals.


What did we do

Most colleges, unless they’re doing something very wrong, have a pretty healthy crop of applications.  But in many cases they can drop off a cliff between January and September.  This college was noticing a significant loss in terms of those that actually turned up to enrol at the start of the new college year.  They were starting to wonder what they were actually spending their marketing budget on.

We looked at everything, to gain a full picture:

  1. How people can apply (paper, online, in person etc)
  2. How people actually do apply
  3. The form that they fill in
  4. Timings for the process
  5. How people are contacted with the outcome
  6. Content used for letters etc
  7. Format of communications
  8. Frequency of communications
  9. Enrolment information sent
  10. Information about the college sent (for example about their first day)
  11. How the interview process works
  12. Open day formats
  13. Talking to people that have applied and enrolled/not enrolled
  14. Studying conversion rates via course area

We discovered that there were a number of steps within the process that could be improved very easily – in particular communication to applicants.

Following our report we rewrote the standard letters that were sent out with offers, ensuring that more information was provided about the process and what happens next.  We spotted a big gap, over the summer period, where applicants didn’t get any communication from the college and so we introduced a series of ‘keeping in touch communications’, such as ‘good luck in your exam’ postcards etc.  We also looked at the social media messaging and how this could be enhanced from applicants and prospective students.  We began to promote key events and activities, reminders of key dates for enrolment as well as information on open days, which reminded people of the next step in the process.  Open days were also a key area to improve.  We introduced the use of student ambassadors, so that applicants could speak to students of the college and get a better understanding from their peers.

As a result the college noticed a significant change in its conversion rate by the following year and this has increased still further, since then.  Their marketing spend is generating a higher return on investment and, as a result, they have been able to actually reduce marketing budgets.  Most importantly, they have noticed a change in retention rates, as well as enrolment numbers.


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