One of the great things about digital marketing is that you can actually understand what’s working for your audience. Nothing has to be a shot in the dark. However, it’s important to understand what’s taking place at all stages of the enrollment funnel. Too often, higher EDU marketers only look at the end result; they don’t consider where the funnel is strong and where it’s weak.

Let’s look at your marketing funnel and how to pinpoint areas that may need your attention.

Understanding the Enrollment Funnel

Your enrollment funnel consists of three tiers. Let’s break these down.

  • Top of the Funnel. The top of the funnel holds your prospects and leads. Prospects are people who visit your college’s website, blog or social media profiles. When prospects make themselves known to you, they become leads. This transition happens when a prospect fills out a contact form, downloads a report or follows you on social media.

  • Middle of the Funnel. When leads reach the middle of the funnel, they have actively engaged with your school. Maybe they signed up for a campus tour or requested a meeting with an academic advisor. A lead in the middle of the funnel has a more serious interest in your program than a lead in the top.

  • Bottom of the Funnel. The bottom of the funnel is where you make the sale, or in this case, collect an application. When a lead has reached this point, there is nowhere else to go. They must complete the enrollment process or move onto another school. After starting out with tens of thousands of prospects, you might only end up with a few hundred solid candidates.

Identifying and Repairing Leaks in the Funnel

When your enrollment funnel is functioning well, your numbers look great. To ensure that you’re meeting your school’s goals, it’s helpful to have benchmarks for each stage of the funnel.

Top Funnel

Let’s start with the top of the funnel. At this stage, you can tell if your marketing is working by measuring traffic to your website and blogs. If you’re not getting enough traffic to these areas, you put your entire marketing funnel at risk. A smaller pool of traffic coming in results in a smaller pool of prospects.

If your numbers are not where you want them to be, take a hard look at your content and what you can be doing better. Are you answering relevant questions? Are you speaking in relatable language? If you don’t think that your topics are the problem, it could be your distribution method. It may be time to put more money into a paid advertising program.


One of the first signs of a mid-funnel problem is not having enough email addresses coming in. The traffic is there, but no one is downloading your content. The most common reasons for this include not using compelling titles and not writing about helpful subject matter. It’s time to change your material and create exclusive, irresistible content that can only be received from your school.

Another mid-funnel issue is having people who only download one or two pieces of content. Your goal is to keep leads in the funnel by offering them rich, engaging content such as alumni videos, opportunities to speak with admissions counselors and strong calls to action. Trial and error works best in this case. What can you do to engage with prospects and pump them through the funnel?

Bottom Funnel

Don’t ignore this part of the funnel. It’s important, too. Continue nurturing prospects with emails, blog posts, newsletters and more. This warms them up to future interactions, including an application request. When you approach the student at the right time, they will be more likely to fill out an application and complete the enrollment journey.

A strong marketing funnel will result in a great pool of candidates for your school to work with. If you feel that you’re losing qualified leads, take the time to identify potential leaks in your funnel and apply the right fixes.