This current generation and pandemic have revolutionized the way colleges and universities market their higher education offerings to reach prospects. Incoming college students are the first generation of true digital natives; they are immersed in the digital world and want their chosen university to transform their lives and have a lasting impact.
You may be asking yourself how you can show that your school can provide this for them? According to EAB, 62% of students indicated that they would abandon a college website that is not user-friendly. In comparison, 87% of students said a well-designed website improves their opinion of a college. And 37% of students discover a college or university via social media. Overall, the best way to reach the new generation of college students is through an excellent digital presence.
It has become crucial for higher education institutions to expand their digital presence to explain how their respective colleges or universities adapt their course offerings and campus experience to our current environment. And also market in a way that is relevant to the new wave of students. Ready to demonstrate why your school is unique and valuable? Continue reading to learn eight higher education digital marketing strategies that show how to market your colleges and universities to reach prospects.
Personalization and Branding
Future college students will compare colleges and universities’ websites and social media presence before accepting an enrollment offer. They want to explore their options and make sure that the school’s values match their own. Use the following five techniques below to target incoming college students successfully.
1. Enhance Social Media Presence
Social media is a cost-effective and efficient way to reach prospects; use the platform to create Instagram Reels or TikTok videos about the campus hot-spots or quietest places to study during Finals Week. Allow students to picture themselves at your colleges and universities through these creative tactics or by hosting a student takeover on Instagram Stories. Current students showcase a day in their lives.
2. Use Quizzes and Interactive Media On Your Website
Quizzes are a great way to help incoming college students select a major. Quizzes are personable to students and your school. Ask a series of questions about their interests, hobbies, and future goals; when finished, it will list different majors that best match their interests, and you should consider applying. This will show students that you want to help them through the college application process and beyond. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a quiz?
Chatbots can also provide students with answers to any questions surrounding campus life, organizations, programs, courses, or anything college-related. Students want answers fast and on their own time. Virtual assistant chatbots are convenient because they can answer at any time and ease the anxiety on students.
Another way to answer questions efficiently for a large group audience is through blog posts. Schedule out blog posts once a week talking about different college topics that are essential for incoming college students to know, from “what to pack in your shower caddy” to “finding the best campus organization for you.” Consider having current college students write a few blog posts and talking about their personal experiences.
3. Use Video
YouTube videos are an excellent form of digital storytelling that is compelling to students. It is crucial to capture everything important to a wide range of students to reach all target audiences. Capture footage of football games, student organizations, classrooms from different programs, and campus experiences to illustrate to the students what their life could be like if they come there. When filming, ensure that you are recording enough footage to create numerous cohesive videos and tell the story of your college.
Digital storytelling offers students a digital experience that can decide whether this college matches their wants and needs in a college setting.
4. Implement a Mobile App
A mobile app can serve as the one-stop shop for all the answers a student is looking for. The mobile app could feature bus routes, current course schedules, open dining rooms, and a calendar with all exams and assignments.
To go even further, you can also have it send alerts and notifications for any warnings and updates happening near the college campus. An efficient way to know what to put on the app is by asking students what they would personally like to see. This will help create an app that students use and benefit from
5. Effective Communication on COVID-19 Conditions
Compared to past generations, the current generation has faced many financial and emotional struggles regarding their high school and college experiences. COVID-19 forced many schools to adjust their current teaching methods and pivot towards virtual and hybrid learning environments. The pandemic canceled important events for students, from sorority formals to college graduations. According to the American Council on Education, the pandemic led to enrollment rates dropping by 15% in the next academic year and a 25% decline in international students.
Moving forward, every college should prioritize having a section on their social media platforms dedicated to providing facts and resources on COVID-19. This social media resource could link to a page on the website that discusses how the university or college is operating during the pandemic. The website should incorporate an FAQ section that answers students’ common questions and outlines how campus life, student organizations, and college classes have been affected. Highlighting campus changes, new academic and social opportunities, college courses resuming online, or remaining virtual or hybrid.
Marketing Tactics & Tools
Branding and personalization are what reach prospects but analyzing the traffic and data are vital for making adjustments to the success of your digital marketing strategies. Focus on the three areas for tracking your metrics to create effective content strategies.
6. Follow Up on Lead Generation
Lead generation is relatively simple. It is defined as the action or process of identifying and cultivating potential customers for a business’s products or services. According to HubSpot, over 90% of people aren’t ready to make a final decision when interacting with the respective company. This is why it’s important to maintain a connection with your leads while building a rapport with them.
When following up on your lead generation, rely on your data to learn everything you can about them, allowing you to get a better idea of who’s most likely to convert. Make sure to respond quickly to leads generated online and elsewhere. In this day and age, leads want information quickly and aren’t going to wait around long. Finally, develop a process for nurturing leads. Every business is different with access to varying resources. By streamlining processes, you are more likely to focus your efforts to yield fruitful engagements.
7. Focus on Appearing on Search Engines
Search engine optimization and pay-per-click focus on essential keywords that will reach prospects, but in different manners. The former is an organic method that increases the quality and quantity of web traffic to your website from search engines. The first step is to research the keywords people are searching to find your page and then the keywords that people search for when applying for colleges. This will help when creating copy for your website and social media platforms.
There are many additional benefits that SEO provides to improve your university’s digital presence. It increases organic discovery, high-quality website traffic, reaches your target audience, and optimizes the user experience. SEO tackles all the digital marketing channels and is vital for all digital media campaigns.
8. Use Digital Advertising
On the other hand, pay-per-click is an internet advertising model used to drive traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher when the ad is clicked. A successful PPC campaign requires research, goal setting, and strategic planning; it would be difficult to track the campaign’s progress without knowing your objectives. It’s crucial to stay consistent with your methods to help identify the specific objectives needed to allocate your paid ads campaign and budget.
While running your campaign, you will be able to monitor the performance of the keywords, which then determines the keywords that are leading to conversion to those that are not. Focus on both search engine optimization and pay-per-click because these methods could produce a high return-on-investment, increasing your overall rate of return-on-investment.
According to Google’s data, responsive ads are the preferred method for Google, which means they are a must. Advertisers see 10% more conversions at a similar cost per action (CPA) when creating responsive display ads with multiple headlines, descriptions, and images. If you are unfamiliar with responsive ads, they automatically scale your campaign’s assets to fit the varying constraints of multiple devices and platforms. Utilizing this form of advertising could be proven beneficial in driving leads and improving the total conversions in your higher education digital marketing campaign.
Higher education digital marketing campaigns need to highlight the school’s unique factors in terms of campus experience and programs that are compelling enough to reach prospects. This can be accomplished through applying the higher education digital marketing tips: develop branding, enhance social media presence, track the performance of your marketing campaigns, and effective communication through a pandemic.
If you are more interested in developing your higher education digital marketing campaign, look no further than Versa Creative. We are a full-service marketing and advertising agency with over 12 years of experience providing a variety of services ranging from website development to digital services for various clients. Our team is committed to reaching your target audience and transforming your colleges and universities’ branding. Contact us now!