How To Get Free Leads For Your School

Marketing and advertising is not just about spending money, it is about creating systems that help generate interest in your school. This is a form of inbound marketing that can significantly lower your overall cost per lead (CPL) and cost per enrollment (CPE).

6 steps to getting free leads for your school

  1. Study where referrals are coming from (track)
  2. Develop a referral program
  3. Make sure your SEO is on point
  4. Make it easy for students, faculty and staff to send referrals to admissions
  5. Organize activities and events for students
  6. Get everyone to share & participate on social media

*Bonus – develop relationships with companies that hire your students and capture on-site testimonials

The best and lowest cost way to grow your school is by getting referrals. Second to referrals are leads who found you on Google, visited your website and decided to contact you, or a.k.a. SEO website leads

Both of these methods are low cost and tend to convert upwards of 15% from lead to enrollment. Enrollments that come as referrals orSEO can drastically reduce your overall CPL (cost per lead) and CPE (cost per enrollment). If your marketing agency is not encouraging or assisting to facilitate these two lead sources, then you should ask yourself whose interest are they looking out for?

  1. Study where the referrals are coming from (track)

As a DOA (Director of Admissions), I knew which were my best classes and instructors simply by looking at where the referrals were coming from. Good instructors tend to generate more referrals. Not because they asked for them, but because the students were enjoying the class and seeing the value. Same went for staff and admissions; when students felt supported and that we cared, referrals went up. 

  1. Build a referral program

If you are not getting any referrals, you should first communicate the importance of referrals to the faculty and staff. You must get their buy-in and commitment. Then use this momentum and create a referral program to spark things. 

  1. Make sure your SEO is on point

The key to a good SEO strategy is to make sure that your website is written in a way that communicates quickly and easily to the website visitor. In this case, what kind of a conversation do you want to have with a prospective student visiting your website? Work with your marketing agency to make sure you develop and implement a good SEO strategy for your website and remember, make it easy to read, easy for the visitor to get what they came for, easy for them to contact you, and make sure to track everything.

  1. Make it easy for students, faculty and staff to send referrals to admissions

Since you cannot incentivize any lead generation efforts, you have to find creative ways to get everyone involved and make it super easy for anyone to get a referral. For example a toll free referral hotline for staff and instructors, a landing page for referrals, a QR Code, a number they can text, etc. The easier the better.

  1. Organize activities and events for students

Keep your student morale high. Use social activities as another way to create a positive environment. Organize activities and events such as class parties, a bring-a-friend to class day, host open houses, career days, holiday social events, award ceremonies, birthday surprises, student appreciation days, and other ways to recognize and celebrate your students. 

All of these things contribute in some way toward the students feeling like they belong and that they matter. Keep the activities genuine and positive and always get your admissions teams heavily involved. 

  1. Get everyone to share participate on social media

Share everything on social media. Encourage students to like and engage with your social media content and post on their social media accounts and tag the school when these events take place. Admissions and staff should participate in the social media engagement as well.

If these things all take place, you will develop a culture that provides a positive environment for the students, which will seep into the campus culture and breed more referrals naturally. Students do not enjoy being asked for referrals, but if you create a great school experience, they will do it on their own.

*Bonus – develop relationships with companies that hire your students and capture on-site testimonials.Some medical schools have externship sites where there is an agreement, sometimes contractually. However, if you do not have these sorts of partnerships, building a good reputation among the employers who hire your students is a form of free advertising through word of mouth. Remember, potential students can come from anywhere. Besides, this may be a good way to capture not only student testimonials, but potentially employer testimonials talking about why they hire your graduates.

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