I recently attended NAFSA in Vancouver and spoke to many university and college administrators about the benefits and the challenges of using lead generation services. We also receive feedback from the schools that have taken advantage of our free lead generation service and School Search feature on InternationalStudent.com as well as our English as a Second Language site, ESLDirectory.com. Here are some of the best practices that I have experienced and learned about from your colleagues in the international education industry.
- Have a plan in place – The first step is to determine how many leads that you can handle. If you have a lead generation provider sending you 500 leads per month, can you handle it from an operational standpoint. You need to ensure you have the appropriate staff in place, a system for follow up (CRM type of system) and the appropriate number of times you will reach out via email and or phone.
- Immediate follow up is critical – Once your lead provider sends over a lead, it is very important that you follow up when the lead is warm….i.e. no more than 24 hours old. My suggestion is to follow up immediately, at minimum with an email that outlines the next steps and if possible, with a phone call. Keep in mind, the phone call can be challenging when you are dealing with international time zones.
- Budget vs. staffing – Make sure that you budget your leads based on your current or planned staffing. You might be better off paying more for better quality leads if you are not staffed up to handle hundreds of leads per month. By paying more, you will receive less leads, but in theory, they will be better qualified and in some cases even phone screened for accuracy.
- Determining if the Cost per Lead (CPL) will generate a return on your investment – Know what your budget is and how many leads your staff can handle is a good place to start. Once that is determined, you need to figure out how many of those actually convert into a student at your school. Lead prices will vary significantly, based on the quality of them. Non-exclusive leads are the least expensive, but keep in mind you and numerous other schools could be competing for the same student. The price goes up the more qualified the lead becomes. Some companies even offer phone screenings to ensure the information that is supplied is accurate. The higher the quality, the higher the conversion is from lead to student enrollment.
These are just a few suggestions for best practices for handling international student leads. What suggestions do you have?