The world of higher education is filled with competition, not just among students hoping to gain admission, but among schools that want to be the first to attract the best and brightest to their campuses. Public, private and even for-profit schools are vying for attention from potential students, and have increased advertising budgets and education marketing departments to attract students.
This is actually a relatively new trend, as nonprofit colleges and universities previously only spent approximately 2 percent of their tuition revenue on recruitment, according to Inside Higher Ed. However, now that these higher education institutions are spending more than ever, let's look at some of the marketing trends currently used to attract prospective students.
1. It's Time to Get Social
While professional social media managers are common fixtures at many large and midsize businesses, the world of higher education has been slow to catch up in this realm. According to a survey performed by Council for Advancement and Support of Education, only 59 percent of respondents in 2016 said that they had used boosted posts on Facebook to attract students. Though this number was higher than in previous years, it's still well below the average for other businesses and highlights the need for growth in this area of higher education marketing.
2. Let Your Students Speak for You
Authenticity is one of the biggest buzzwords right now in the larger marketing world. Today's customer responds to brands that represent values they recognize, and prospective students are no different. However, higher education institutions are uniquely poised to offer an authentic voice to future students using their most abundant resource: current students. Employing current students to harness their Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook accounts to introduce their school to their peers will help the school connect with young people who'd be most interested in learning more about what's offered.
3. Targeting Is Powerful
Though it's important to get your message right and use social platforms to bring it to a wide network, it's also necessary to reach people who are most likely to turn into potential students. For instance, a school in California targeting people under the age of 40 wouldn't do much good when that wide net includes a pediatrician in New York. Schools should focus on prospective students by location, connections with other schools near you and potentially even age. Some market research may be required here to drill down what exactly constitutes an ideal potential student who'd be most likely to connect with your school.
Higher education marketing has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, and it doesn't look like it'll slow down soon. By employing a smart social strategy that uses an authentic voice and advanced targeting techniques, marketing professionals can take efforts to connect with potential students to the next level.