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5 Steps in the Enrollment Journey Your University Should Master

Aaron Puckett

Selecting a destination for earning a degree is potentially one of the most important, exciting and stressful decisions a young adult has faced, up to that point in his or her life. This is not only a decision that will influence the direction of their future careers, but it will also form timeless bonds and memories that will shape their interpersonal and social characteristics. So, with so much hinging on this decision, how does your university ensure that it reaches the right audience with the right message at the right time?

Let's embark on a little journey of our own and explore five steps essential to executing a successful enrollment journey.

Identify Your Audience

To accurately portray a college experience that not only earns enrollment but also engages students throughout their time on campus, it is essential to define your ideal target audience and prioritize your efforts to earn their attention. Conduct research that helps identify common characteristics and pain points that help further define and segment this general audience into more specific persona types. These audiences should be considered during the development of each campaign, as well as reviewed when reporting campaign results.

Map Out The Journey

Now that audiences have been better defined, it's time to take them a step further and map them into a journey model. Not all prospective students will interact with the provided content the same, but generalizing based on typical milestones will help define the messaging and format of communication for your marketing as well as your internal team. Start by identifying the milestones that accompany the prospective student's transition into an applicant and then to an admitted student. Define opportunities of communication between each of these milestones to help standardize and manage the work required to continue to engage your audience. Provide the relevant information in the appropriate format in a timely manner to these students as they advance through the journey map.


As your audience becomes more familiar with your university, the messaging it is consuming should become more familiar as well. Based on identifiable interests like areas of study, clubs and activities, the ongoing communication should have a personal touch. This can most easily be accomplished through personal interactions like phone calls, events and school visits; however, it should be considered throughout your campaign implementation. Utilization of a CRM integration with your website can allow for a lot of this personalization to happen without requiring significant, daily, hands-on work.


Step two to personalizing your communication is the utilization of automation. This can be executed through many mediums and with varying complexity, but letting your software tools do some of the work for you lets you spend more time learning about your student audience and plan additional enrollment tactics. Here are some examples that will help your CRM inform additional digital marketing executions:

  • Web Hooks—Let your website answer common questions for prospective students by providing interest-specific content to visitors as they explore the website. Webinars, infographics and event calendars are all examples to earn interest at an early stage that can help your institution get a foot in the door.
  • Workflows—As students begin to engage with content, make sure to recognize and respond. Workflows can automate a series of informational emails or messages (SMS/social) based on identified areas of interest. As the visitor returns and continues to consume content, these online actions can define the next round of content that will be provided, if necessary.
  • Dynamic Content—Enrollment landing pages should earn significant traffic throughout the school year. To help this marketing tool remain fresh and unique, personalized information can be populated based on contact information. This can be accomplished through things as simple as website copy or as complex as digital video.


The enrollment journey map should demonstrate that this is a thorough process that can take months, if not years, to convert from prospect to enrolled. Use information gathered at each milestone to continue to identify material, content and tactics that help engage new prospects as well as nurture existing ones. Enrollment is certainly a measurement of success, but ensuring that your university retains students is an important step to the journey map as well. Continuing to engage your audience will be an ongoing element in the enrollment strategy, which will hopefully eventually evolve into an alumni journey map.

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