Study Reveals What Admissions Departments Can Learn From 5,000 Secret Shopper Inquiry Responses

Velocify and Sparkroom research evaluates what really happens after a student prospect clicks “submit” on an inquiry form

LOS ANGELES – August 24, 2015 – Velocify and Sparkroom just published the results of a secret shopper study on third-party website responsiveness to student inquiries called, “Evaluating the Lifecycle of a Student Inquiry.” To examine the journey of a student inquiry, the study evaluated response to 100 inquiries submitted to third-party sites, and logged more than 5,000 responses in 90 days.

“Our goal was to see how actual communications from third-party providers measured up against best practices proven to maximize enrollment yield,” said Martin Lind, director of the education vertical at Velocify. “We found a number of surprises, including the volume of inquiry re-selling to non-EDU companies by the third-party sites.”

Speed to Lead: More than one-third of the student prospects were contacted within the first 30 minutes of their inquiries and everyone received a call within 12 hours. Though this level of responsiveness is better than what is typically seen in other industries, it still falls short of best practices. Previous Velocify research has found that contact within one minute can increase enrollment rates by 391 percent.

And being the first to respond can also impact a student’s enrollment decision. According to the 2015 Online College Students Report, 43% students said they enrolled in the college that made the first contact.

Persistence: The prospects received more calls than recommended by best practices. In addition to wasting efforts, making too many phone calls can actually reduce the chances of a prospect enrolling.

Vendor Communications: Designed to capitalize on fading school efforts, vendor emails picked up on day 20 of the tracking period.

Reselling of Inquiries: A long list of non-EDU companies sent communications to our prospects, typically starting about 45 days after inquiry. The frequency was small, but still undesirable in the current compliance-focused atmosphere.

What can admissions teams learn from these findings?

Don’t expect true exclusivity. Between prospects submitting multiple inquiries and aggregator re-marketing, chances are slim that prospects are only talking to one school. In fact, research has shown that 66% of students contact more than one institution.

Focus on effective contact frequency to achieve the best results. Learn when enough is enough. The study helps distinguish the best vs. the most typical practices.

A complimentary copy of the complete study can be download directly by clicking here.