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Lead Engagement – What Does “Lead” Even Mean?

This is the fourth article in a series of five that is written by Guus Goorts for the DreamApply Expert Insight Series. Read the previous article here. Guus is the author of the book “Successful Student Recruitment with Google Ads”. He helps education institutes globally with their efforts to attract the right type of students through SEO and Google Ads.

“We don’t buy leads”. 

That was about the first thing my prospective client had to say when I met him.

He went on to tell me about the terrible experience his team had when they purchased an email list.

This conversation happened in 2010. Looking back, I realise that my client had been confused by the word “lead”.

The problem with the word “lead” is that it’s a very imprecise term.

You see, my portal website ranked at the top for pretty much anything related to learning languages in Singapore. Prospective students could see the school’s name, logo, address, pricing and available start dates.

By the time a prospective student sent an enquiry to the school (and became a “lead”), they had done their homework and were ready to take the next step.

That is nowhere similar to sending a bulk email to a list of people who have never heard from you.

By calling both groups of people “leads”, we completely leave quality out of the equation.

So instead of purely counting a number of leads, you need a way to measure the quality of your enquiries. That is where the metric “lead engagement” comes in.

What is lead engagement?
It’s the percentage of people who took action after enquiring. For example, by attending an open day or responding to a message by your institution.

Why is it important? 
When a prospective student engages further with you, he or she hits another milestone on the path to their enrolment.

While it’s great to have lots of people on your mailing list, quality comes first. And lead engagement is a way to measure that quality.

What’s a good number?
While every situation is different, I’d pay serious attention if lead engagement falls below 30%. You may be advertising to the wrong target group, or your ad and website copy might be setting the wrong expectations.

Break your list of leads down by source (e.g. Google Ads, Social Media, Organic Search) and you might see very significant differences.

How do you calculate lead engagement?
Lead engagement = (leads that took a specified action) ÷ (total number of leads)

If you have a CRM set up, it may report the figure automatically on a dashboard. But you can also calculate it manually, once or a few times a year.

To do this, count the total number of consequent actions (e.g. RSVPs for open days) in a period and divide this number by the number of leads acquired in that same period.

In DreamApply, you can automate this process by applying tracker codes to all leads arriving through specific online marketing campaigns. This also helps you make a clear comparison of those campaigns in terms of performance.

What comes after lead engagement?
Lead engagement is an important KPI to measure. It helps make sure that you are talking to the right people, and it can give you feedback pretty early on – so you can still make course corrections during the academic year.

But of course, the ultimate test for any online recruitment effort is applications and enrollments. That’s where the application, offer & offer take-up rate comes in – I will cover that in my final article.

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