Speed to lead or speed-to-contact is the elapsed time between someone submitting information via a form and a LIVE, real-human response from your team. Conventional wisdom says the sooner you engage your leads with a live phone call after that initial point of contact, the better. Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?
If You Can’t Engage Your Leads ASAP, Chances Are Someone Else Will.
Every minute counts. Typically prospects for undergraduate programs will inquire to 3-5 different schools, while graduate typically 2-3 schools. We do not need to tell you that it’s competitive out there. Prospects are spoiled and able to choose from multiple schools. But every moment that passes between that initial outreach and your response, their interest starts to wane or worse your competitor contacts them first. Prospects are going to be eager to work with the school who gets back to them. At the point of inquiry, interest is at an all-time high. It is when buyer motivation, receptivity and intent are at the highest point.
Faster response = higher conversion rate.
According to Harvard Business Review, organizations that respond to customers within the first hour of contact are seven times more likely to convert them to sales. Read that again. Seven times more likely. In other words, you could be losing thousands in tuition revenue due to poor response time. Fortunately, the payoffs are immense for schools that act. At Education Connex, our advice is simply put your speed to lead rate at the top of your to-do list. In fact, it should be your number one priority. Admissions leaders should prioritize speed to lead; presidents, CFO’s and marketers should demand it.
By the way Southern New Hampshire University knows this, SNHU representatives aim to call prospective students so fast that they do not have time to click away from the university website. The university typically returns 98 percent of new lead calls in under three minutes. Speed and efficiency have helped SNHU to grow its online enrollment from 3,000 students in 2003 to around 132,000 students today. (Read Our Blog)
Okay, so what should my speed to lead be?
Five minutes or less. When It Comes to speed to lead, most schools are blowing It. According to our recent mystery shop, only 4 of 80 universities responded within five minutes. We mystery shopped 140 non-profit universities offering an online or graduate program. We filled out, or tried to fill out, a request for information (RFI) on the main .EDU website during business hours, early in the week. We measured speed to lead.
Why are Universities Struggling with Online Enrollment?
It is clear to us why universities are struggling with online enrollment. We applaud those schools that had great response time within 5 minutes, but sadly, they are too few – only 7% of the schools responded within five minutes or less.
Here are a few sobering statistics from our shop:
- 46% of Schools did not make a single attempt
- Of the responders, response time ranged from immediate to 10 days.
- A low 30% of schools responded same day; the average response rate was 1 hour!
It breaks our hearts to see schools struggle with enrollment and missing the most basic opportunities such as responding to inquiries; before you spend any money on paid advertising shore up lead leaks and implement best practices including speed to lead.
How is your school’s speed-to-lead? Let us find out for you; or maybe we already know, contact us and we will share our findings or shop your college – free.
Here are four simple ways to improve speed to lead:
- Hire us. What are the best ways to improve speed-to-lead? Hire us. Really, we mean it. We will ensure every single inquiry is responded to within two minutes…and we will increase inbound inquiries. It’s true. We provide immediate response to inquiries and take inbound calls and chats 24/7 inbound. Those things that are important, but you can’t do, outsource it.
- Measure it. If you measure it, you can improve it. What are you measuring? Very few schools measure speed to lead or lead to contact. Instead they do not have KPIS or are trying to measure similar to traditional undergraduate.
- Optimize it. Look at your process, but also look at opportunities to enhance your web site – Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). We can stretch your site and forms and increase capture, contact and conversion (enrollments). It’s simple we support your university and make your school accessible and responsive to leads and make your admissions team perform better.
- Drive inbound calls. The phone is better than a submission; better conversations drive better conversions. When you boost lead conversion rates and enrollment productivity, everyone wins. You and the prospective student. Prospects now demand that you “be there” in the moment and provide the information and answers they are looking for regardless of when they call. Remember we can take inbound calls 24/7; our team is US based and are experienced professional admissions personnel.
Here’s why driving inbound calls increases enrollment:
- Inbound calls have greater intent and covert at a higher rate. The majority of people don’t enroll or make a major purchase without speaking to a person.
- An Inbound call is immediate and allows you to circumvent the competition by speaking directly to prospects who are lower down the funnel and are ready.
- Prospects feel safer providing personal information in a direct conversation, and phone interactions provide the ideal circumstance to gather the soft data that is often difficult to get through other channels.
- Phone interaction provides things that online channels do not, including the opportunity to engage on a higher level and guide the interaction based on information like tone of voice, reaction, verbal cues, and response time to build rapport and create a positive and memorable customer experience.
Opportunities abound for online universities to convert more inquiries without spending more money. There is an incredibly good chance you are missing growth and mission opportunities because of your team’s speed to lead is not what it should be. If you’re spending money on any marketing, you’re losing money until you fix this. We can help.
Since 2008 we have been helping colleges grow enrollment. Call us at 877-434-1828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help your university succeed.