Our last webinar titled “Education Marketing Lessons from a Pro” featured IMS Proschool’s Product Manager, Ankush Bhandari. The session discussed various channels that education marketers must use to promote their courses, and the best practices and the important metrics for each of the channel. Those of you who missed it, can access the recording here:
Here are the questions that came in during the webinar along with their responses.
What are the common mistakes that counselors make, that cost the business an opportunity?
Here are a few common mistakes that I have seen counselors make:
- Trying to push the course, rather than counselling the student: In the education sector, everyone involved in sales should try to take a counselling approach as opposed to the typical selling approach. If you try to be pushy about selling your course, rather than trying to answer students’ queries, you might put the students off. Build a reputation of genuine well-meaning counselors, and students would come to you on their own through word of mouth.
- Inadequate knowledge of the course: Counselor should have excellent knowledge about the product, and skills to assess which course would be a fit for the student. They should be able to give the students a complete perspective of the course, by quoting all the pros and cons.
- Not assertive enough: They have to be assertive, and skilled enough to advice the students on which are the best option for them (especially if the student seems indecisive). There are certain set of students, who would not be able to make up their minds, if given too many options, and might even drop the idea of buying the course completely. This is not what you want. So, your counselors need to identify such students and act like an adviser to them.
How do I make a strong counselling team?
In addition to the aforementioned points, you need experts / faculty members to host doubt clearing sessions. This would give your institute a very good reputation among students in general, and therefore a strong counselling team.
What kind of response time the businesses should aim at in order to not lose opportunities?
Try to reach out to your leads within a couple of hours – 12 hours at the most. If the response time is higher than this, you might not form a good impression in prospects’ minds. Also, if there’s a time lag, your competitors might already have reached out to these guys, and taken away your chance of closing the deal.
How do you assess whether or not to launch a new course based on the search volume on Google? Will you not launch a program, if Google search volume is low?
I think that is not always the case; there are many courses where the search volume is low but enrollments are high. For instance, compare “CA course” and “CFA course.” The search volume for both the courses is 2200 and 6600 per month respectively but, the enrollments of CA course are 10 times that of CFA course.
This is because courses are divided into “everybody courses” like CA, MBA entrance exam, IIT Entrance exams, and “niche courses” such as digital marketing training etc. For everybody courses , all the tuition providers are well known, and for publicity they are more or less dependent on word of mouth or other traditional media like banners , newspaper ads etc. However, for niche course (especially, courses targeted at working professionals) target audience is available online. If your course comes under second category, and search volume is low, then you should look into the competition as well before you take any decision.
Therefore, if you find low keyword volume for your target courses, consider the following things:
- Does your target audience use the same terminology as you to describe your product? It’s a possibility that other variations of your key phrase would have better searches, especially if a different term is widely used among your target audience to refer to your product. You should therefore look at the other variations of the keyword, which would be suggested by Google Keyword Planner, while you are doing the keyword search exercise.
- Is the demand for your product seasonal? Another possibility is that maybe your particular keyword has high searches during one particular time frame. This means that your product has a seasonal demand. For instance, if you sell a training course for a competitive exam, then there might be a possibility that people only search for it when the exam is ridiculously near. To rule out these possibilities, you should look at Google Trends to see the rise and fall trends of your related keywords.
- Is your target audience even searching online? In most cases, they would be, because students generally look up resources online. However, if your product is of such a nature that it generally sells offline, search volume might give you a wrong impression.
- Run a survey before launching your product. Before you jump in to launch a product, or completely trash one idea, it would be best to run a survey asking people whether they would be willing to pay for a particular product. If you already are catering to a particular set of audience, and the new product is also targeted at them, then you have the database to run this survey yourself. If the number is too low, then you might want to partner with portals that cater to students in your target segment to ask this question. This might get an idea of whether or not this would work.
- Maybe your product is a niche product and it’s supposed to have low search volume? You would know this of course; if not, stop and ask yourself if it caters to only a small number of people. If it does, then you would have to evaluate whether or not you can make a sustainable business with this. If it’s a high value product, then you would be able to make profit even with low volume.
- Is what you are trying to monetize already available in ample for free? Sometimes, you might have a brilliant product idea, but the prospective learners might already have access to a lot of open source material – in that case, people might not be willing to pay for your product.
- How is the competition for the keyword? Sometimes, even with great search volume, the market might be saturated with competitors, and if you have nothing new to offer in your new course, it might just be a failure despite it being highly in demand.If that’s the case, you might want to give a unique spin to your product to actually stand out.
- Do a search in your niche forums: In some cases, people might just be using forums to look for a particular solution, instead of going the traditional Google search way. You should do a search for your major keywords in forums as well.
- Look at the social media popularity of your keywords: Maybe people are using Twitter and other social media tools instead of generic search to find the solutions. An advanced search in Twitter and other social channels would help you find that out.
- Are you thinking way ahead, and the demand for this product might peak a couple of years down the line? Long shot, but it’s a possibility. Are you thinking way ahead of your time; then you should be ready to launch the product as soon as the demand starts going up. You can get a rough idea of this by looking a Google Trends again; maybe the keyword has had a steady increase in search volume over the years. That might be indicative of something good.
Look at this trends report for “android courses.” Android development is wildly popular now, so this isn’t a great example. But, it does show you how the demand for a particular thing might be on a rise and plain numbers might just be deceiving.
This just goes on to prove, that keyword search is your first step; you’ll need to go to several levels to actually access the situation. What’s should be the next step – tweak the idea, go ahead specializing in a small niche or completely trash the idea.
However, if you lack the time and resources to do all these things, you might hold on to the idea for some time, till you start seeing an upward trend. But then again, if you wait, chances are someone else might beat you to it.
We generally deal with schools and want to connect with administration, but it’s generally a barrier to get in touch with them. Is there a way to overcome this?
Hosting events that the administrators would find interesting is one way to go about this. For instance, organize an event/workshop in a hotel, and invite an expert to speak on a topic of importance, for example, “How to use IT for school administration”, or “How to use YouTube for education. “ This way you will be able to build relationships with schools, and then you can personally go the school to market your product.
We are using SMS to reach out to the students, but the response rate is as low as 0.1%
- Test the sending time: From our own experience we have seen that afternoon is the best time to send SMSs; so if evenings and mornings are the time you are targeting, change it to send the SMSs in the afternoon; that might have a positive effect on your SMS open rates.
- Customize your sender name.
- Send relevant and interesting offers: Seminars generally get us really good response. Customize your message depending on what courses you are trying to target.
Do you send SMSs only on qualified data?
Yes, it makes sense to send SMSs to qualified leads, based on some information – say the pages they have visited etc. Otherwise you might end up sending a B.Sc seminar message to an MBA student, which would not leave a good impression. Also, you wouldn’t really want to be on the Spammer list.
How do we use inquiry form to find out what the students are looking for?
You would generally place the inquiry forms on your website or associate it with some online campaign. In the general website inquiry forms, you can have a “Query” field where people can fill in what exactly they are looking for, so you would have an idea.
Your campaign landing pages would of course be associated with specific offers, so you would know what they are looking for.
What share of business do we intend to lose if in case we do not do Digital Marketing in Education Sector?
It depends on whether you are able to fill all your seats using the methods that you have employed right now. If you are able to get all the students you want at an optimal cost, then don’t bother much about other channels, but if you think you can improve the number of conversions and lower the cost, then you need to employ other digital sources as well.
How can I Attract Tier 2 city Audience ( Students)
Offline is a good way to start – seminars would get you good interest. Other than that all the advertising channels, like Facebook, Adwords etc. gives you an option to target only certain cities.
I get pretty good response from Just Dial. But when call the prospects, they are not much interested. How to overcome this challenge?
Sometimes, you would not get relevant leads from a particular media, even if the number of leads is high. If you have a proper system in place, you can access within a week’s time whether or not a particular source is getting you qualified leads.
The first thing you need is to get your best counselors to address your prospects’ queries. However, even after that if the conversions are not happening (after you are sure that you have the best nurturing process in place), then you might want to reconsider even investing in this particular channel.
Some people would not buy straightaway and would need further nurturing as well. So, keep on engaging your prospects by sending them helpful content, and you would be on their minds, when they decide to buy the course.
We are in the Home Tutorial Business, how could we increase the leads?
Use a mix of all the different channels discussed today, like Facebook, Adwords, Blogging, Offline activities and try to measure what’s getting you leads and what’s not. Continue the fruitful sources and discontinue the wasteful ones. Specifically for home tutorial businesses, you can try offline marketing activities such as posters in societies. Among online channels, I think JustDial should work well.
How can we increase retention rate of students?
Excellent counseling, and sticking to your promises – Do not over promise and under deliver.
What should be the frequency of SMS & Emailer shoot on same database
Ideally it should not be more than 2 times a month; that too, with changes made to the subject lines. You should also check the overall open rates and click rates for all the campaigns. If you observe that the numbers are going down drastically, bring down the frequency further. If you are continuously getting good response, then you can even increase the frequency.