As a higher education marketer, you’ve got a big job. The fact that 78% of millennials value spending money on an experience instead of buying something they desire. With 2020 in full swing, we stepped into the role of a prospective student to provide five innovative tips you can incorporate into your strategy this year.
1. Digital Accessibility
Think about what your students would need quick access to while they're walking across campus or maybe what an adult-learner would need to be successful in going back to school. Looking at your website now, is that information easily accessible? If you can’t easily navigate through your website, neither can your future students. Function, design, and access are key components to a website, so focusing on those areas is vital. 43% of users will abandon a webpage that doesn’t fit their current device, so it’s critical to have a website that works – everywhere.
Tip: SEO Audits aren't useful for just search rankings. Running regular SEO audits and ADA compliance testing can help you determine where gaps may be in usability and accessibility.
2. Show Your Story
Wyzowl says that 79% of consumers prefer watching a video to reading about a place or product. Capturing your school’s tone and voice through explainer videos, or video ads, reinforce your position as a thought-leader in the education space, and provide answers to questions students are searching for.
Tip: Incorporate unique media approaches into your content strategy, while using student voices to tell stories. Current students have the opportunity to shine while prospective students will see value in the opportunities you provide.
3. Research-Based Content
Everything starts with your audience. Capturing data on current and prospective student search queries is a valuable way to understand them. For example, a parent looking to go back to school may benefit from a live look at flexible schedules through email marketing. A candidate who’s entering their senior year of high school might be served with a pre-application checklist or a day-in-the-life of a student article.
Tip: Take some time to brainstorm how you can engage current students in varying departments to build content. Current students often have the 411 on what prospective students are looking for so be willing to source content ideas from the people who know best.
4. Live Engagement
Every campus is different, so using technology to give an inside look at what the classroom or on-campus experience is a great marketing tool. Offering a live stream video of a professor’s lectures across a variety of subjects allows prospective students an inside look. Share an Instagram Live, inviting students to watch a basketball game from the student section for a few minutes.
Tip: Though all of these ideas can be designed to feel "spontaneous," make sure you have details in place to support the call to action. If you're live-streaming a lecture, make sure there's someone there to answer questions or spark discussion. Good planning leads to great success!
5. Keep it Personal
According to Hubspot, 82% of consumers rate an "immediate" response as important or very important if they have a sales question. Allowing students to connect with someone on your admissions team increases customer retention and reinforces your school’s dedication to inform and assist. With such a big decision, it’s important that prospective students feel supported and valued, even before setting foot on campus.
Tip: How do your students want to hear your information? We refer to this idea as "big brother/sister messaging." Students want to feel valued, but informed. Sometimes, the uber professional tone does more harm than good. Take a more casual approach, like giving advice to a younger sibling, and you'll be surprised at the results!
A new year always brings new challenges, and a proactive strategy can make all the difference. With efficient planning, your team will be better equipped to form relationships with prospects ultimately, recruit, enroll, and retain more students.