Throughout the past decade, higher education has seen itself through major change and uncertainty. Unstable economics, new technologies and emerging areas of studies and work have all led to a shift in the way society and prospective students view higher education. More than ever students and parents are placing an emphasis on the ROI of investing in a college degree. Just because you’re a big name school no longer means you’ll attract the best candidates. So how can higher ed show that their institution is the best investment for prospects? By leveraging digital!
Read on for 5 ways higher education can use digital marketing to convince accepted students to enroll:
1. Brand Your College or University
Thanks to the ease of the common app, teens are applying to more schools than ever before with just 1 click. As a result, higher education marketing strategies have had to be reevaluated. Higher ed is finding that many times one institution isn’t distinguishable from another and for a generation raised encompassed by strong brand messaging, that’s a problem.
Colleges and universities need to build a brand image that completely sets their institution apart from the competition. A critical portion to branding your university is having a modern, responsive website. It should be the heart of your higher education marketing strategy, with everything coming back to the site. Your responsive website should also clearly state your institution’s vision and beliefs, as well as the brand message. By clarifying your school’s brand image, you will be able to find students that are the right “fit” for your school, which will lead to an increase in enrollment and retention.
2. Virtual Tours and Interactive Campus Maps
1 in 2 Gen Z-ers are expected to be university educated. That’s an unprecedented amount of prospective students looking for a school to call their own. However, due to geographical and financial constraints, prospects and their families aren’t able to visit every campus before applying.
Almost 90% of high school students have said they would prefer if colleges and universities provided virtual tours or interactive maps on their websites. Having such features on your higher education website will lead to prospects becoming more educated and familiar with your school. Happier prospects who understand your school better means more enrolling freshman who will stick around for the 4+ years.
You can even take the interactive tours and maps a step further by having current student campus tour guides hold scheduled virtual tours. Prospects can interact with a current student while also having their questions answered in real-time, just as they would if they were on campus.
3. Video Marketing
Kevin McMullin, founder of Collegewise, took the acceptance letter a step further in his blog, “How can colleges convince accepted students to attend?” Looking at the 900-student women’s college, Agnes Scott College in Georgia, McMullin noted their innovation in sending a booklet with scented pages to remind the students of their campus. However, he questions the cost associated and the impact it ultimately had. Instead, McMullin suggests, sending personalized videos from the recruitment officer who handled the student’s application explaining why they were the perfect fit for the school. And we couldn’t agree more!
By leveraging a video acceptance letter, colleges can connect on a much more intimate level than a generic piece of paper. For a smaller school, such as Agnes Scott College, getting into as much personalization and detail as McMullin suggests is perfect. Yes, it takes time, but the effort will be well worth it when enrollment rates rise.
For larger schools who accept 5,10,15-thousand students in their freshman classes, getting on McMullin’s level of personalization is impossible. However, you can still use video to convince accepted students to enroll. Email, along with the acceptance letter, a video welcoming the incoming class and highlighting what they have to look forward to as a student at your college. Your potential students will share the video with friends, family and on social media, thus not only pleasing the student, but spreading brand awareness as well.
4. Have a Voice on Social Media
Your school needs to be active on social media. You have to. It’s where your prospective students are and by keeping an open dialogue with accepted students you can make or break whether or not they enroll in your university.
5. Showcase Your School’s ROI
As we’ve said, seeing a return-on-investment from a college degree has become more and more a priority for prospective students and their parents. So show it to them! Set up web chats with successful alumni and current seniors and juniors who have held prestigious internships or have a job lined up after graduation. Create video campaigns around your most successful alumni and how their education helped them reach their goals.
Seeing is believing, and if you show accepted students what your school can do for them through digital marketing, they’ll be more likely to enroll.