40% boost in applications
13% increase in campus visits
92% conversion rate campus visitors to applicants
Independent schools have never been considered bastions of marketing prowess, but in 2014, Proctor Academy began bucking the trend. The private co-ed day and boarding school for high schoolers with a college-like environment wanted to continue its 167-year tradition of academic excellence by recruiting a steady stream of diverse, eager learners to enroll in the school.
For years, Proctor relied heavily on simple word-of-mouth marketing and some content marketing activities to attract prospective students. While online traffic was mostly consistent, the school’s website did a poor job converting visitors to qualified prospects and campus visitors. Despite consistent content production, the process offered little in the way of visibility and transparency to help measure engagement and effectiveness of the content.
“We were ahead of the curve in terms of producing blogs, videos, and other web content for recruiting, but behind on integrating it all into a cohesive strategy,” says Scott Allenby, Proctor Academy’s Director of Communications and Marketing. “We wanted to create a data-driven, intentional approach spanning social media, the website and email campaigns to nurture prospective students and their families through the entire enrollment process.”
On the advice of alumni who’d gone onto careers in marketing, Proctor adopted HubSpot marketing software in 2014 to kick its student recruiting efforts into overdrive. Previously, school marketers produced a variety of recruiting-oriented content they believed would interest prospective students and their families, but had no way to determine how it was being viewed or by whom.
“Without being able to understand who was viewing what and why, tailoring information to speak to the varying needs of a diverse recruiting base at each stage of the enrollment process was nearly impossible,” Scott says.
Using HubSpot, Scott’s team, including Inbound Marketing Specialist Lesley Fisher, has unprecedented visibility and transparency into online content views, clicks, and downloads and provides a solid foundation for lead nurturing campaigns. Proctor marketers can apply these insights and use the HubSpot Blogging, Calls to Action, Email, and Smart Content apps to create a range of multimedia content, tailored to the specific interests of students, parents, siblings, and even admissions fair inquiries.
Informative blog posts about the school’s programs all include numerous calls to action to direct visitors to the next step in their enrollment journey. With each subsequent click, HubSpot Smart Content learns a visitor’s preferences and automatically adapts content to create a more engaging, personalized experience. Now, Scott’s team can instantly add blog posts or any one of the more than 20 carefully crafted videos built with Wistia, such as The Arts at Proctor and Admissions “Go Helpful” videos, in the school’s content library to personalize each communication with a prospective student and their family.
“We saw a great opportunity to structure content workflows in a way that could move families through the admissions process at their own pace and create a unique experience,” Scott says. “HubSpot has simplified building a process that helps us nurture families toward a visit, then toward application, revisiting campus, and eventually enrolling. The combination of personalized emails, content, and CTAs that match their exact step in the process has led to a huge increase in visitors and applicants.”
With HubSpot, Proctor Academy has an incredibly powerful integrated marketing tool that’s transformed its entire admissions process. The shift has completely changed how the academy interacts with prospective families and helped to convey the school’s foundational beliefs in experiential learning, personal relationships as a foundation of learning, and individuality as a foundation for both internal and external communications.
Beyond a change in mindset, adopting HubSpot has delivered concrete improvements to the school’s recruiting and enrollment processes. Scott says that HubSpot’s impact blew away his and others’ expectations. In the first seven months since adopting HubSpot software, the school enjoyed a 40% increase in student applications over its 5-year averages.
“HubSpot helps us find out what a prospective student is really interested in, where they are in the admissions process, and how we should engage them from that point on,” Scott says. “Personalizing every step of the nurturing process has resulted in more than 57% of inquiries turning into campus visits and over 92% of those visits converting into applications.”
Choosing to enroll in a prestigious secondary academy is a lengthy decision making process, complete with deadlines and a number of checkpoints along the way. “HubSpot strikes a balance between automating time-consuming tasks like updating application checklists and confirming interviews with personalizing post-interview follow ups, acceptances, and post-acceptance communications,” he says. “The principles of a well-rounded education might be timeless, but the way we communicate those values has to adapt and change with the times. Now they do.”