Shattering Enrolment Records: Shrewsbury College Group & Purlos combine to spark action through conversation

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it unprecedented communications challenges for colleges across the country. At Shrewsbury College, it soon became clear that their efforts would have to be focused on implementing a digital-first approach to their enrolment process. Email and phone communication, although still very important channels of communication, simply weren’t engaging enough to inspire students through their admissions journey.

Challenges

Shrewsbury College remained intent on maintaining their hallmark philosophy of providing personalised support to all their student applicants. But in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic and economic shutdown, how could they meet the individual needs of their student applicants, whilst simultaneously meeting their own enrolment and conversion targets? And all of this without burdening their staff with more work.

 

Mike Needham, Director of Communications, Admissions & Marketing knew they face several challenges in meeting their goal:

  1. Traditional methods of outreach(such as email and phone) were labour-intensive and had diminishing returns on staff time and investment. Increasing communication via these channels required additional hours from staff.
  2. Driving up applications from inside the normal catchmentareaof the college, and even beyond wasn’t enough to ensure the college met its ambitious enrolment goals. The challenge would be ensuring those applications convert into full time, fully funded students.  
  3. It wasn’t enough to maintain the status quo. In alignment with their mission, they were constantly seeking better ways to personally engage students with the goal of increasing their reach and improving the quality of their enrolment initiatives.  

Solution

After reviewing the available options, the college quickly found that Purlos was the only platform available that focused student conversion through highly personalised, two-way conversations, via a communication channel students regularly use socially.

 

Powered by Purlos, the admissions team could now:

  • Optimize their enrolment funnel with a focus on converting applications of interest into full time students
  • Proactively nudge students to do everything from completing applications to registering for enrolment events
  • Provide students with personalised responses to their questions within seconds  – even outside of staff’s office hours
  • Give staff the opportunity to easily monitor thousands of conversations
  • Provide staff with an easily digestible analytics dashboard identifying those students most at risk of dropping out – both before and after enrolment – and their key risks driver.

“The Purlos platform and the comms via WhatsApp is one that the students use regularly, so we were confident that this engagement tool would allow the college to communicate effectively with our applicant students in a more comprehensive manner.” 

Mike Needham

Director of Communications, Admissions & Marketing

Results

There were remarkable results with student engagement. The Shrewsbury team used Purlos to send out a survey to 438 applicants who were not engaging with their typical admissions outreach and so had yet to accept their offer of a place, and were shocked by the high response rate from students – over 50%

Overall 64% stated that they would accept the offer and immediately enrolled with the college, with a further 28% of those surveyed responding that they received their offer but were still considering whether to accept. 

 James Staniforth, Principal and Chief Executive of Shrewsbury College, is very happy with how, through the Purlos platform, the college is now able to more effectively and efficiently chase applicants and solidify their applications, “From this survey, we’re checking on the 64% to make sure that we have their acceptance and we’re contacting the 28% to see if we can provide further information to help them reach a decision and we will send a withdraw survey to the 8% to understand why they have withdrawn”.

“The Purlos platform has meant that more applicant students have decided to enrol with us.” 

Mike Needham

Director of Communications, Admissions & Marketing

Look Ahead

As the Shrewsbury College team have worked side-by-side with Purlos they have been able to maximise the technology’s capabilities and enhance the level of personalisation they deliver when communicating with students.

Since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions the college has seen a year-on-year increase of at least 20% in student applications. Interview take-up and offer acceptance are extremely strong – nevertheless the immediate challenge is to ensure this increased level of interest converts into full time students. And Purlos will be on hand to strengthen those initiatives aimed at increasing conversion and overall enrolment.

The initiatives won’t end there, of course. Shrewsbury College will always be looking for new ways to better support students to ensure their success. As the college moves to the future, it will count on the continued support of Purlos. And the team is already looking ahead and exploring ways in which Purlos can be used to build stronger connections with their college community post-enrolment.

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