Stacia Doss

Senior Coordinator, Marketing Communications

How Can Universities Get a Passing Grade on Their Marketing?

It’s no secret that college-bound high-schoolers rely on digital media to find and compare universities. For this reason, it has never been more important for colleges to establish a strong online presence with plenty of digital resources.

According to the New York Times, private colleges have had an especially hard time recruiting new students in recent years. Colleges and universities have to come up with creative ways to recruit new students, because the industry is constantly changing. Thanks to the ever-increasing prevalence of digital marketing—not to mention how much time prospective students spend on mobile devices—colleges and universities can no longer rely on their age-old methods of recruiting.


Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative

According to CollegeStats, both alumni filmmakers and current students often make videos or short films featuring their school in the hopes that they’ll go viral and draw in more students. Though it’s impossible to predict exactly what kind of content will go viral, exploring student content for marketing opportunities is a great place to start. Because alumni tend to be especially proud of their alma mater, personifying the university mascot is a surefire way to gain popularity among current and future students alike.

The Guardian reminds readers that interactive apps can help with recruitment purposes, as well. Apps can include everything from lecture clips and application tips to photo galleries and alumni success stories; devising apps that going beyond the competition is another great way to attract more potential students. Universities can also tailor the content on their apps to students’ interests by compiling data on the sites that prospective students visit.


Show Your Value

Many schools now offer potential students a taste of their academic programs by providing a limited number of resources for free on digital avenues. Massive open online college courses, or MOOCs, have grown incredibly popular around the globe in recent years.

These classes are entirely free, and according to EduGuru, some colleges even offer future credits for students who enroll in them. While one of their main goals is to increase the availability of higher education to students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it, the underlying purpose of MOOCs is to attract more students to a college or university.


Reach Students Where They Spend Their Time

When it comes to digital marketing, a well-rounded approach is typically best. For colleges and universities, this means using multiple channels to reach prospective students. Besides publishing an attractive, informative website, universities are starting to take advantage of email marketing, social media ads and pay-per-click promotions to reach a broader audience.

Admissions officers at schools shouldn’t underestimate the impact that creative marketing endeavors can have on recruiting new students, and marketing teams can create a virtual presence for their school on every social site that students frequent including Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and popular blogging sites.

It’s important to keep in mind that businesses and organizations do not use sites like Facebook and Twitter in the same way that individuals do. Though colleges and universities can use these platforms to disseminate information regarding their programs, it’s crucial to post quality, engaging content, as well, so followers don’t feel as though the administrators are just bombarding them with admissions-related spam.

Colleges can also stand out by consistently publishing captivating images on Instagram and Pinterest. Encourage graduating high-schoolers to add you to their network, and attract them with images of student activities—both the academic and the exciting. These platforms can also help facilitate donations from alumni.

Recruiters should also take advantage of email marketing and other types of media. Email follow-ups after scheduled tours and reminders of important admissions deadlines, engaging podcasts, posts highlighting updated dorm rooms, and even Groupon deals at the university bookstore are all effective ways of showing students that a college or university cares.

When it comes to recruiting international students, colleges and universities must get more creative still. Researchers have found that live video chats are an especially effective way of reaching out to international students, as live chats are a great place to interact with both potential students and parents alike, and create a personal connection they might otherwise miss out on to answer any questions they might have.


Making the Grade

The world of marketing is changing at a rapid pace, and it’s taking college recruiting with it. With a little research and a lot of creativity, university marketers can use the new digital tools at their disposal to reach more prospective students on a deeper and more meaningful level than ever before.

To learn more about how Rise can help you reach your university marketing goals, contact our Digital Strategy team.

01/12/2015 at 12:00

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