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Inbound in the Classroom: Using HubSpot for Enrollment and Educational Growth

The education sector puts a twist on the common personas used in the HubSpot software. Lifecycle stage names for contacts moving through the marketing funnel for a public-sector agency don't exactly align with students moving through the admissions funnel. For example, Marketing Qualified Lead and Customer don't resonate with the way prospective students are conceptualized and segmented.

So where do colleges and universities fit in the world of inbound? That's where HubSpot comes in.

You can use the following tools to understand where your prospective students are in their enrollment journey and improve the hand-off between marketing and admissions. 

(Pro tip: click on a tool below to learn more about its technical functionality in the HubSpot Knowledge Base.)

Using these tools, you’ll learn how to: 

  • Assign contacts to specific student statuses based on where they are in your enrollment funnel using workflows and/or forms.  
  • Keep track of when a student enters a specific stage in your admissions process using a date stamp workflow.
  • Segment your students using lists.
  • Create a contacts report to analyze a list of your contacts using your HubSpot reports tool.

Before you get started, take note of which HubSpot subscription level is needed for each step. While HubSpot Sales users and HubSpot Marketing Free, Starter, and Basic users have access to some of these tools, this process is geared toward Marketing Professional and Enterprise users.

In addition to covering how to use HubSpot tools to move your prospective students through your enrollment funnel, you'll also learn how those soon-to-be college students can turn themselves into inbound experts with the resources available in HubSpot Academy.

 

Create Custom Contact Properties for Your Enrollment Funnel 

Subscription needed: all HubSpot Marketing and Sales users can create custom contact properties.

Contact properties give you a place to store information about your students. While HubSpot’s default contact property Lifecycle stage gives you insight into where your contacts are in the marketing funnel, you can create your own custom contact property geared toward students in your enrollment process. Examples of stages in the enrollment process include:  

  • Prospective Student
  • Inquiry
  • Applicant
  • Admitted Student
  • Confirmed Student
  • Enrolled Student
  • Alumni 

Label your custom property Student Status and set the Field type to Radio select. This will allow you to input multiple options for this one property while ensuring that contacts only have one status set at any given time. 

create-student-status.png

Choose  + Add option and add options that match your school’s enrollment process (such as the seven example stages listed above). Then click Create to save your new custom property.   

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Now you have your Student Status custom contact property created. However, you also will need to keep track of when students entered each stage of the funnel -- when did a student become enrolled? When did they become an alumni?

To store this information, for each of the seven prospective student status values you created above, create additional corresponding contact properties. Label each property Became a(n) [INSERT LIFECYCLE STAGE NAME] Date and set the Field type as Date picker

In the example below, the custom property is Became a Prospective Student Date:  

became-prospective-student.png 

Repeat these steps to create properties for all the custom status stages you created. 

Now you have one custom contact property (Student Status) that houses your seven enrollment statuses (Prospective Student, Inquiry, Applicant, Admitted Student, Confirmed Student, Enrolled Student, and Alumni). 

You also have seven custom contact properties that house the date that students reached a particular status (Became a Prospective Student Date, Became a Confirmed Student Date, etc.).  

 

Assign a Student Status Property Value to Your Prospects 

Subscription needed: forms are available for Marketing Basic, Professional, and Enterprise users. Workflows are available for Marketing Professional and Enterprise users and Sales Professional users.

Now you need to organize your contacts based on what stage they're at in your enrollment process. While you can set this manually, you can also identify prospects who submit your forms via hidden form fields. 

You can tie a particular form conversion to a student status to get a reflection of where they lie within your funnel. A true applicant should have already worked their way through the top-of-the-funnel offerings, whether or not they converted on a form previously. Prospective students filling out a form intended for a middle or bottom-of-the-funnel offering are closer to the enrollment stage than those filling out a simple form for an eBook offer on choosing the right educational option. 

For your forms, add your Student Status custom property as a form field and then make it hidden and apply a default value. That way, when prospects submit the form, they will have the default status that you sepcified applied to their Student Status property in HubSpot. This Knowledge Base article walks through making a form field hidden.  

student-status-hidden-field.gif

Alternatively, you can use workflows to set a value for your prospects' Student Status property based on form submissions. Your enrollment trigger would be Form submission | Contact has filled out form | [Select the name of your form]. 

After setting your enrollment trigger, add a step to your workflow. Select Set contact property value from the right sidebar menu. The contact property you're setting is Student Status. Then select a value (such as Inquiry) to set the property to for all prospects who submit your specified form. 

assign-value-workflow.png 

Create a Date Stamp Workflow 

Subscription needed: Marketing Professional and Enterprise users and Sales Professional users can create workflows. 

Take note of when each contact entered a new phase in your enrollment process with a date stamp workflow. You'll use the seven date picker properties created earlier (Became a Prospective Student, Became a Confirmed Student Date, etc.).  

Your enrollment trigger will be based on the Student Status property. For example, if you're creating a standard workflow based on your prospective students, your enrollment trigger will be Contact property | Student Status | is any of | Prospective Student.

Then add an action to your workflow and select Set contact property value from the right sidebar menu. The property you're setting is Became a Prospective Student Date (or any one of your other student status date picker properties), and for the property's value, select Date of step.

This way, once a contact becomes a Prospective Student, they'll enter your workflow and be assigned the date they became a Prospective Student, stored in their Became a Prospective Student Date property. 

became-prospective-student-date-workflow.png

 

Segment Your Students Using Lists 

Subscription needed: Marketing Basic, Professional, and Enterprise users can create lists.

The more personalized and targeted you can be with your school’s students, the better you’ll succeed in engaging them.

There are many ways you can segment students in your contact database: by persona, by programmatic area of interest, by grade, by location, etc. Now that you have set up custom stage names to identify where these individuals are in their enrollment journey, you can also segment them by their status in the enrollment journey using the Student Status property.

Create a smart list for each custom student stage you created in HubSpot. Smart lists are dynamic and constantly update contacts that fit the criteria.  

(Pro tip: before creating your lists, click New folder in the left sidebar menu under Contacts > Lists. Name your folder Enrollment Journey and then click Create. This will make it easy to organize and find these lists in the same place.) 

Your list criteria will be Contact property | Student Status | is any of | [select a status, such as Applicant]. Clone this list and change the status to something else, such as Inquiry. Then repeat until you have seven separate lists for each of your seven student statuses.  

student-status-applicant.png

 

Analyze Your Enrollment Funnel 

Subscription needed: the ability to analyze a specific list of contacts via a contacts report is available for Marketing Enterprise users only. 

To analyze your full funnel of students as a whole or to dig in to a specific segment of your enrollment journey, you can create a contacts report to analyze the results of your marketing efforts.  

To get started, create a contacts report and select to start from scratch. 

contacts-report-start-from-scratch.png

From here, there is a lot of flexibility on how you can segment your student database.  

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Customize your report based on what you want to analyze:

  1. Choose a list to report on: you can choose to report on all prospective students stored in HubSpot or segment these by any smart list. For example, you can use a list to create a report to see data on your Adult Learner persona or only for all students that marked Accounting as their major of choice.
  2. Choose a conversion type and time period: you can choose any one of your status points and see data over time for when your students converted. You can set this up for all time or choose a time period to measure conversions, such as during the past enrollment year.
  3. Group contacts by: choose to view the data by week or month.
  4. Break down by a contact property: you can use any contact property in HubSpot and break down the data for each conversion by this property. For example, you can view the breakdown of conversions by Original Source to understand the channels that are bringing in the most students.
  5. Calculate total value of numeric contact properties (optional): this menu will look at a HubSpot contact property that is a numeric property and allow you to sum this property within your report.

From here, create your report and allow time for HubSpot to crunch the numbers. 

 

How Students Become Inbound Experts 

Inbound doesn't have to end after you reel in your students using the tools above. HubSpot Academy offers plenty of resources to help your students grow their sales, marketing, and technology skills. Here, your students can find: 

  • Certifications exposing them to inbound sales and marketing strategy and best practices.
  • Training videos helping them tackle the HubSpot software so they can put those strategies and best practices to work.
  • HubSpot projects empowering them to put everything they learned into action and reach their sales and marketing goals using HubSpot tools.

HubSpot also helps educators bring inbound to the classroom with the Education Partner Program. While admissions can recruit and enroll students with inbound marketing, educators can incorporate inbound right into their curricula, equipping students with modern-day marketing and sales tactics to jump-start their careers in a variety of fields. Check out this blog post to learn more about the Education Partner Program. 

Join the Education Partner Program