During the past decade, our work in the education space has given us a front row seat to monitor the massive shift in how schools market to prospective students. And nowhere is that more pronounced than in the way colleges and universities are now courting potential applicants.
Today’s candidates are not only digital natives, but also social and mobile media natives. A 16-year-old can barely remember a time before smartphones or social networks…and doesn’t want to! Engaging with these prospects within the flow of their existing digital dialogue is key to relationship building.
How are schools communicating with prospective applicants?
Here are five digital tactics that colleges and universities are using to market their schools:
- Schools want to draw students from outside their geographic footprint, but traveling can be expensive for students. That’s why we’re seeing an uptick in the use of Google Hangouts. This allows individuals to interact with current students and professors to get a feel for the overall experience without leaving home.
- Many schools are using a combination of “big data” and pre-visit surveys to create personalized campus tours based on a prospective student’s preferences. Tailoring a tour to each individual provides a more relevant experience, while demonstrating to students that they are wanted.
- The fastest growing social media networks among this audience are Twitter and Instagram, both of which use hashtags to search, connect and engage. Developing a hashtag for an incoming class (#state19, for example) allows schools to interact with students via their preferred media, encourages current students to generate authentic content and provides a simple call-to-action for all marketing touch points.
- With mobile usage reaching critical mass, schools are responding with responsive websites, digital campaigns and mobile friendly content. An abundance of informative – yet easily digested and sharable – video content is a smart starting point. Ultimately, quality content is king for every platform, and this is especially true for mobile.
- By using marketing automation software matched up to a lead management system, schools can track the online engagement of prospective students and qualify their level of interest. Prospective students could then be segmented and sent automated (but highly customized) drip campaigns. This allows schools to communicate with a large number of applicants in an efficient manner, while applicants continue to receive highly relevant content.
Breaking through the clutter to reach today’s digital natives takes a combination of efforts. Schools need advanced technology to foster 1-to-1 communication, as well as the ability to remain relevant within their prospective students’ preferred means of conversation.
The payoff is a more informed student and a higher quality applicant pool. And every generation can see the ultimate benefit in that.
To learn more, or to partner on a school marketing project, just contact us through one of our preferred channels of communication below.