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How to organize prospective student lifecycle stages for the enrollment and admissions process

Last updated: April 11, 2017

Available For:

Marketing: Pro, Enterprise
Sales: N/A

Lifecycle Stage names in HubSpot do not always align with marketing when it comes to the education sector - "Marketing Qualified Lead" and "Customer" do not fit in with the way we want to conceptualize and segment prospective students as they move through the admissions funnel. Setting this up effectively can improve the handoff between marketing and admissions and help you understand where prospective students are in their enrollment journey.

This article will walk you through the ordered steps needed to create customize lifecycle stage names to match your school's admissions and enrollment cycle and how to move them through your marketing funnel. (The steps below are meant to be followed in order, but you can click on a particular step to jump straight to it, if needed.)

  1. Creating custom contact properties for prospective students
  2. Set up a date stamp workflow 
  3. Using Forms to set prospective student stages
  4. Segmenting prospective students across the enrollment journey
  5. Analyzing the enrollment funnel

 

1. Creating custom contact properties for prospective students

HubSpot gives you the ability to setup custom contact properties for segmenting your contact database. Follow these instructions to create custom contact properties for the enrollment cycle:

  • From your HubSpot Marketing account, navigate to Contacts > Contacts Settings.
  • Click Create new property.

  • Label the property as Prospective Student Status > select field type as Radio select > choose Edit options and add options that match your school’s enrollment cycle (examples: Prospective Student, Inquiry, Applicant, Admitted Student, Confirmed Student, Enrolled Student, Alumni) > click Save property.

For the next step, you should create a set of date based properties to align with the stages set up for the prospective student status. These will be used to match a date field with each stage to understand when a prospective student moves through the funnel. 

For each of the prospective student status values that you set up above, follow these steps: 

  • Within the Contact Properties screen, click Create new property.
  • Label the property Became an {INSERT LIFECYCLE STAGE NAME} Date > select the field type as Date Picker > click Save property.

  • Repeat these steps to create properties for all the custom lifecycle stages you created, and you should have a list that looks similar to the one below:

2. Set up a date stamp workflow 

Now that you have the custom stage names and date properties in place, you will want to build a workflow to stamp the date properties when a contact moves through the funnel. This will allow for reporting around where prospective students are in their journey and when they changed stages.

Create a Workflow for each prospective student stage that you set up as contact properties above. For each stage, please follow these instructions:

  • From your HubSpot Marketing account, navigate to Contacts > Workflows, click Create new workflow.
  • Click New workflowName the workflow something like "Applicant Status Date Stamp: Became an _____ Date" > select Standard as the type > click Create workflow.

  • Click the button at the top to set enrollment criteria > choose to Automatically select contacts > choose Contact property > from the dropdown menu, select the contact property Prospective Student Status and set this to the stage you are working on (ex. Inquiry) > choose Done then Save to set your criteria.
  • Click the plus icon to add an action to your workflow > choose Set contact property value > choose the Became an ______ date property you created to align with the applicant status > choose Date of step for the value > click Save.

  • Click the toggle button at the top of your workflow to ON to activate your workflow.

Repeat this process with each Prospective Student Status that you created.

 

3. Using Forms to set prospective student stages

Prospective Student Forms each serve a different purpose. Some of these will be used to capture inquiries at the top of the funnel (TOFU) with eBooks, checklists, guides, etc. Others are going to be used at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) to apply for a program. A visitor filling out a "Program Information Request" form is more likely to be considered an Inquiry than someone who fills out an "Application" form, who is more likely to be an Applicant. You can set up each form to assign the appropriate Prospective Student Status for you.

Here are some reasons why you want to add a hidden Prospective Student Status field to a form:

  • Forms are the quickest way to automatically push prospective students further down the funnel. The hidden form field method takes less setup time than a Workflow (Professional and Enterprise only) to do that work.
  • You can tie a particular form conversion to a prospective student stage update to get a truer reflection to where they lie within the marketing 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.

You can use one method or a combination of methods for automatically setting the prospective student status for your contacts. Or at the least you can use your forms until you've concluded that it's time to set up more advanced automation using Workflows and even lead scoring.

Here is how you can pass hidden prospective student status fields through forms:

  • Navigate Contacts > Forms > select an existing form or Create new form.
  • Add prospective student status property to the form by clicking on the Fields tab > search for prospective student status > drag the field to the right-hand side to add it to your form.

  • Click the pencil icon within the prospective student status property to edit your field options > check the box next to Make field hidden > select the button next to the prospective student stage value that should be applied from this form submission > click Done Editing.
  • You'll notice the blue "eye" within any fields on your form you have marked as hidden. Once you're happy with how you've set up your hidden fields to pass values, click Save form.

 

4. Segmenting prospective students across the enrollment journey

As the saying goes, if you are trying to be everything to everyone, then you are not going to be anything to anyone. The more personalized and targeted you can be with your school’s prospective students, the better you’ll succeed in engaging them.

There are many ways we can segment prospective students in the 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.

To do this, you’ll want to 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. Here is how to set up each of these lists:

  • Go to the List Tool under Contacts > Lists.
  • Create a new folder from the side menu > name your folder Enrollment Journey > click Create. This will make it easy to organize and find these lists in the same place.

  • Within the Enrollment Journey folder, click the blue button to create a new list that will live in that folder.

  • Click Name list and provide a name for the stage that you are going to segment for:
    • Prospective Student Status: Inquiry
    • Prospective Student Status: Applicant
    • Prospective Student Status: Admitted Student
  • Using the filter logic below your list name, select Contact property > choose Prospective Student Status > select the status for the segment that you are building > click Save and allow time for your list to pull in all relevant contacts.

  • Repeat steps above for creating a new list with each of the status types that you set up contact property stages for.

You can now use these Smart Lists to analyze a specific segment of the database, send targeted email communications, leverage smart content, and enroll specific contacts into a lead nurturing workflow. The next section will walk you through analyzing your enrollment funnel.

 

5. Analyzing the enrollment funnel

Please note: The ability to analyze a specific list of contacts via a Contacts Report is currently available for Enterprise customers only.

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

The Contacts Report allows you to build reports based on the information in your Contacts Database inside of HubSpot. You can:

  • Report on all contacts in your HubSpot database, or on any list in HubSpot.
  • Graph your contacts over time based on any date property in your Contacts database (create date, became a lead date, etc).
  • Break your report down by any contact property from your database (lifecycle stage, source, industry, persona, etc).
  • Sum any numeric contact property from your Contacts database for those contacts in the report (revenue generated, lead score, email opens, etc).

To get started in building your Contacts report, follow the steps below:

  • Navigate to Reports > Reports Home in your HubSpot Marketing account.

  • Select Create a new report in the top right corner > select Contacts Report > select Start from Scratch > click Create report.

From here, there is a lot of flexibility for how we are able to segment your prospective student database.

Follow these steps to build out your report:

  • Choose a list to report on: You can choose to report on all prospective students that are being stored in HubSpot, or segment these by any Smart List. For example, maybe we want to only see data on our "Adult Learner" persona or only for all prospective students that marked "Accounting" as their major of choice. Choosing a list gets to the "who" that we want to report on.
  • Choose a conversion type and time period: In the above steps, we outlined how to setup conversions for inquiries, applicants, and admitted students. Using the conversion type, we can choose any one of these points and see data over time for when these prospective students converted. We can set this up for all time, or choose a time period to measure conversions, for example - during the past enrollment year.
  • Group contacts by: Choose to view the data by week or month.
  • Break down by a contact property: We can use any contact property in HubSpot and break down the data for each conversion by this property. For example, we can view the breakdown of conversions by "Original Source" to understand the channels that are bringing in the most prospective students.
  • 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 for your new view.

On your report screen, you'll also have access to email, export, and refresh this report on a regular basis. Learn more about Contacts Reports here.

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