Improve Lead Generation in Higher Education
Until recently, lead generation in the education industry had been mostly successful in helping schools meet enrolment goals and recruit students, but today, it is in a tough phase for both for-profit schools and educational lead generation companies.
According to a recent report, the number of U.S. high school graduates is expected to stagnate and decline by 4% by 2030. With these low numbers, along with increased competition among higher education options, lead generation and nurturing of prospective students in educational institutions is becoming a greater challenge than ever before!
Things got even worse with new federal and state laws, ever-changing regulations, and intense public scrutiny. The most important reason why the government scrutiny and resulting skepticism occurred is the iffy recruiting practices and promissory statements by lead generation companies, hired by educational institutions to find potential students. Their job is to advertise through channels like social media, phone, SMS, emails etc., and try to get prospective students to enroll in a university. They are paid based on the number of leads they generate. But, to generate more leads and more money, some lead gen companies have lowered their standards, resorting to aggressive marketing tactics.
One such tactic is to convince prospective students that they will receive grants, scholarships, or student loans and convert them as a lead to gain money from the school. Some lead gen companies even use misleading and false ads to get a lead. Because of this, schools are getting backlash from government agencies, and in response, schools are getting stricter with their lead generators to avoid negative repercussions.
But one question remains — How do you tackle this situation? How do we generate high-quality education leads while staying compliant with an increasingly complex regulatory environment? The answer lies in how seriously and responsibly both the universities and lead gen companies look at compliance.
When we say compliance in education, it means to:
- Be honest and transparent with the prospective students about how and why they find a match to a particular institution or program
- Provide the actual information about the salary outlook and the possibility of getting a job after graduation
- Explain what type of job market and the income they can expect once they graduate
- Ensure that the agents provide relevant information and answer questions honestly so that students can make fully informed decisions
- Have the ability to connect the students directly to institutions for questions about programs, financial aid, etc
- Maintain full disclosure
Let’s now look at some of the standards and regulations set by federal and state bodies in the US for lead generation marketers in education.
The FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule
The FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule protects consumers from fraudulent practices. It requires educational lead generators to comply by first creating an “established business relationship” with the consumers — in our case, potential students.
- The student must give written consent to the lead gen companies to call
- The consent must include the student’s telephone number and signature
- The student can receive calls as a result of submitting the Request for Information (RFI) form on the website of a lead gen company and checking the box that gives express permission
- The educational lead gen companies should not provide any goods or services to obtain student consent
The CAN-SPAM Act that sets the rules for commercial email prohibits the harvesting of email addresses and sending bulk emails to people who don’t want them. It regulates the transmission of all commercial email messages, not just unsolicited messages, and gives recipients the right to stop unwanted emails. Buying email lists, borrowing email lists, and making lists from people with whom you don’t have a relationship puts a company at tremendous risk.
Some of the conditions include:
- No commercial message, transactional or relationship message can contain false or misleading transmission information (such as “From”, “To”, “Reply to”, subject lines, content)
- Must provide an opt-out on all commercial messages
- The message must be identified as an advertisement or solicitation (CTA)
- The email must include the sender’s physical mailing address
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
TCPA restricts the use of marketing calls, text messages (SMS), automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS), and pre-recorded voice messages to any mobile phone without prior consent. TCPA does apply to both public and private schools and institutions with penalties of up to $500 per violation. The act governs all methods of direct marketing in which universities solicit prospective students to enroll or purchase products/services via telephone. A business must obtain the customer’s consent first before sending them text messages.
The consent must be unambiguous, meaning:
- The consumer should receive a clear and conspicuous disclosure that he/she will receive auto-dialed and/or pre-recorded telemarketing messages in the future on behalf of a specific advertiser
- The consent is not a condition of purchase
- The consumer must designate a phone number at which to be reached (which should not be pre-populated by the advertiser in an online form)
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
GDPR is a UK/European legislation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of European Union citizens throughout the world. It has brought significant changes to the contact centers worldwide, which usually deal with a massive volume of customer data. GDPR determines how they must handle the personal data they collect and store. It also strictly regulates some of the standard contact center practices, such as recording and archiving of customer calls.
Under GDPR, a school or university must get explicit consent from a student, in case it involves a third party to manage the data. It also should ensure that the third-party service provider, using the data, is GDPR compliant and has a legally binding contract with the provider. The contract must cover what kind of data is processed, who it is being processed by, who has access to it, and how it is protected.
FCC’s Robocalls & Spoofing rules
The Federal Communications Commission has passed a new ruling, regulating the illegal robocalls in the U.S. to protect communications between consumers and legitimate callers. The new law requires telecom providers to implement software that identifies the bogus calls by no later than 2021.
The guidelines are as follows:
- No robocalls to cellphones without consent
- The consumer should be informed of the nature of the call and the organization behind it before the recording is played
- The call should be disconnected as soon as the message is over, or the recipient hangs up, whichever comes first
National Do Not Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry gives a choice opt-out from receiving telemarketing or sales calls on your phone. Maintained by the US federal government, the registry is a database of individuals who requested telemarketers not to contact them. The registry tells telemarketers which numbers they can or cannot call.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Under FERPA, educational institutions must obtain written consent from the student to release the records to anyone other than school officials or authorized government personnel, in connection with financial aid, an emergency, or other specifically allowed purposes. It also provides students the right to inspect their education records.
Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA)
GLBA governs the collection, disclosure, and protection of consumers’ personal information and personally identifiable information. It requires institutions that offer consumers financial products or services like loans, financial or investment advice, or insurance to explain their information-sharing practices to their customers and to safeguard sensitive data.
Are you looking for ways to create high quality leads to your educational institution? Acqueon can help! It can redefine the lead generation process in today’s rapidly changing compliance landscape. To know more, read Acqueon use case for education here.