The student journey isn’t an easy one, and that’s why guiding them through the process, step by step, can change the way a prospect feels about your institution. Mastering your target demographics mentality is the first step in understanding how to market and appeal to your returning (and new) website visitors. Think about some of the ways your school is unique amongst your competition. Do you offer a program in your area that isn’t available anywhere else? What are some things that you are doing that your competition isn’t?
The Power of Quality Content in Higher Education
Start to think through some of the ways you can leverage the following:
- What your current students are saying
- What your faculty/staff has to offer (whitepapers, lectures, Ebooks)
- The value of a great blog
- Recirculation email campaigns
- The power of social media in higher education
Listen to Your Current Students
It may sound like age-old advice, but it’s the best thing you can do to work with your marketing team or agency to leverage the power of your student population. Social media dominates the digital marketing world and has become more valuable than ever when it comes to higher education. We recommend using social media applications such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to promote on-campus events, create geo-filters for your school, and share what your students have already shared amongst themselves! Most of the time, information about your school — like a unique hashtag — can reveal a lot of the way your community engages with your school.
Testimonials can be one of the most valuable assets on your website. Sharing and embedding alumni stories on landing pages, YouTube, and other social media applications are necessary to keep up with the popular demand for more video content, which is particularly crucial in the last stages of the recruiting funnel. Use that to understand who you’re communicating with and what it is that they enjoy.
Google Analytics can reveal a lot about your prospect’s. Leverage that data in conjunction with what’s available to you and just like that – you have a powerhouse of useful marketing ammunition at your fingertips. It’s important to remember that not all Google Analytics data may be relevant, but it makes for a reasonable frame of reference.
Let Your Faculty Get Involved
Nothing is more vital than the instructors, professors, teachers, and professionals at your institution. Have they written anything revolutionary in the recent months that you can publicize on your website? Take, for example, Boston University’s “Professor Voices.” Professor Voices focus on articles and videos where Boston University faculty share their thoughts on topics such as upcoming elections and other recent news stories. Not only does having a website like this help students, but it also establishes a relationship with parents and helps them to develop a rapport with faculty by demonstrating essential leadership skills. Understanding a point of reference from a staff member could make or break a prospect’s decision. When communicating with people closest to them about where they want to go to school, it’s vital to establish trust and a similar worldview. More young people are becoming involved in politics and world issues. Therefore it’s helpful to create content that focuses on these topics, rather than just writing about programs. Think about your community – and reach beyond what is common.
Blogging Isn’t Dead
While it may seem like an antiquated method for attracting new website visitors, it certainly isn’t. Don’t just let the content on your blog sit there. That’s the difference between a blog that will be successful and a blog that likely won’t generate inquiries or leads. It’s critical to remember that the point of your blog is to attract new prospects. Make it easy for a student to request information—right when they’re ready to do so. We did a case study on adding a “Request Information” form to a school’s blog. While the school was generating great content, the blog wasn’t seeing a significant return on their publishing efforts. After taking some time to understand the user base, making aesthetic tweaks, and changing their content and publishing strategy, in one year the school started generating inquiries directly from their blog. The graph below shows the most valuable content marketing types for moving prospects through the recruiting funnel:
It takes, on average, 90 days for a student to start school. We’ve found that it can take up to 180 days for 90% of our students to make that decision. To speed up the process, sending follow up email campaigns can influence a prospect while they’re in the crucial decision-making phase. Perhaps a prospect was about to fill out an application, however, they got sidetracked and could not commit. Sending a friendly reminder email can help impact the enrollment period. We’ve also found that mailing to a quality list, where you’ve done all of your lead generation makes a significant difference in your unique open rates. Think about that the next time you consult your agency. List quality matters!
Prospective students are consistently seeking new ways to find information about a school they may be looking to attend. It’s likely that a student will check social media pages, like Facebook, to learn more about the institution they’re exploring. It’s essential to conduct a full social media audit on your active pages to ensure you’re putting out the best information, responding to students promptly, and following up on inbox requests and inquiries.
We’ve seen that prospects are more inclined to send a message rather than call or request information. Leveraging the “Send Message” button on Facebook and Instagram are great ways to communicate with your audience. Finally, share all quality content that your school publishes your website or blog! Use your social platforms to publish testimonials, articles, and create on-campus events. That’s a wrap! Remember to listen to your current students and be mindful of responding and following up promptly. It’s important to allow your faculty to be the subject matter experts. Create targeted emails and use an email automation service like ours to facilitate the application process and capture leads before they have the chance to be lost.
Are you interested in growing and understanding your prospect’s journey? We can help! Contact us today to learn more about Search Engine Optimization management and how we can make a difference, improve performance, and generate new inquiries for your school.