Admissions double using the right technology

A school-based CRM sees a new level of communication and coordination.
Nov 19, 2021
Chris Lang, Director of Sales and Marketing at Digistorm

Marketing and admissions are two sides of the same coin but too often the two departments don’t coordinate as well as they should.

But when they work in concert the effect can be extraordinary and those that are leveraging technology specific to the process are seeing growth with increased efficiency.

St Andrew's School, Walkerville a South Australian independent, co-educational primary school have doubled their enrolment enquiries using a CRM specific to the task of coordinating marketing and admissions.

Marissa Brown, the Director of Marketing and Community Engagement at St Andrew’s says that they were using Excel spreadsheets and paper-based forms.

“As you can imagine, there was a lot of paperwork, collation, and information duplication. We collected information on various forms, our registrar was inputting that data into various spreadsheets, and it was all collated. That, as you can imagine, took a lot of time!” she says.

The school chose Digistorm Funnel as a way to simplify the enrolment process and ultimately ushered in a better way of working.

She says, “I looked for something easy to use because we have multiple staff who might be engaging with that system, so it really needs to be user-friendly and intuitive. Part of that means that we need something really visual, customisable, and gives us key data to project future enrolments for our school.

“We also needed to understand where those prospective families were in our sales funnel. Were they at the enquiry stage? Had they attended a tour? Had they had an interview with the Principal?” 

Digistorm Funnel has enabled more personalised interactions for prospective families, “By simply looking at the notes in Funnel, we understand when they last called, what they’re after, what they’ve already done in terms of engaging with St Andrew’s. This makes them feel very special and important to us, as they should, and it’s a big improvement compared to what we’ve done before.

“I find Funnel very easy to use. As a tool, I find it really intuitive. I’m of the generation where I press things and wait to see what happens. If I don’t know how to use something, I’ll contact our Digistorm Customer Success Manager, who’ll talk us through it. It has saved us a lot of time and has streamlined our enrolment processes. All of that [lead] information is captured in one easy spot on Funnel and has helped us convert enquiries into enrolments.”

Funnel is used by the registrar, marketing and the communications officer, “We all use it in slightly different ways; from my perspective, I use Funnel to monitor where we’re at from an enquiries perspective, while our communications officer might use Funnel to send emails to prospective families.”

Chris Lang, Director of Sales and Marketing at Digistorm says, “More schools recognise that aligning their marketing and admissions teams to the same goals (often a commercial goal) helps deliver better growth outcomes as they’re focused on delivering the same results.

“We see schools achieve this by combining marketing and admissions teams under one leader and introducing technologies that streamline processes that get these teams on the same page – think shared reporting dashboards, for example.

“Great synergies come about once these two crucial teams are aligned and processes have been ironed out. Some of our clients have doubled their enrolment growth by introducing aligned plans supported by technology and supportive leadership. Many schools also report significantly reduced double handling, which is a real saving to the bottom line.”

The process of coordinating marketing and admissions means bringing the teams together, Lang says, “This can be facilitated in various ways, but we see great success where teams share performance goals, the customer journey is aligned through journey mapping, collaboration, and frequent meetings to measure and improve.

“As transformation is often led at the school board or leadership level, it can be challenging for those managing, or in the admissions and marketing teams, to manage the change of workflows, and in some cases, new KPIs (key performance indicators).

“We always suggest keeping people at the centre when it comes to change management. Getting team buy-in by ensuring they feel supported and set up for success when new processes and technology are introduced is essential.

“Another common challenge is that the process of change can lose steam during the project. To avoid this, we suggest setting milestones throughout the project to help keep everyone motivated and focussed on the short-term goals. It’s also important to celebrate each time those milestones are hit! An example could be the first team meeting or the first shared goal hit as an aligned team,” he says.

Digistorm has recently released its 2021 State of K-12 School Admissions Report. The report presents data and trends from 100+ schools – 1% Public 77% Independent, 15% Catholic and 7% non-denominational. It reveals that, after a tough 2021, schools are optimistic about 2022 enrolment prospects and plan to sharpen their focus on marketing and communications. 55% plan on investing in new technologies to assist and manage admission growth and 56% are looking to upskill their teams.

Schools’ admissions and marketing teams can vary significantly in size and scope, but admissions teams wearing multiple hats are relatively common.

“With over 50% of schools in our report (Download report here) also looking at other areas like communications or administration, we’ve also seen that schools are finding creative solutions to staff these aligned teams. For example, many have a mix of full time and part-time team members and divide tasks accordingly,” Lang says.

“Generally, technology that’s accessible by different teams helps to keep them on the same page. Say, for example, having a shared KPI for gaining a specific number of new enrolments for the following academic year. The marketing and admissions team can look at the same report to see how they’re tracking, and then use their individual skills to help move the needle closer to that goal.

“A school-specific CRM like Digistorm Funnel also means any user within the school can leave a note when dealing with a prospective family. So, whether a family speaks to a registrar on the phone or receives an email from the marketing team, all communication is logged in one spot, leading to better experiences for families.”