As college admissions rapidly changes, teams need to rethink their marketing strategies and how they tell their institution's story to prospective students and families. The current generation of students aren't particularly impressed with many of the traditional pillars of enrollment marketing - expensive mailers, phone calls, and standardized emails that generally only ask about the student's plans the following semester. Gen Z expects more personalized engagement and easier access to interact with an institution. They want to know any and all information about an institution on their own terms.
This might sound like a daunting task, but it really shouldn't be for enrollment teams. With the right focus and tools, your team can win enrollment. With this in mind, I've put together 4 ideas to transform your enrollment marketing.
1. Be authentic 😎
Every institution has a story to tell. It's critical to figure out your story and make sure that every marketing campaign, every campus experience, and every stakeholder tells this story. From post-graduation job placement rates to campus location, each institution needs to tell their story in an exciting way and create experiences around that story. Simply, give students an authentic experience.
2. Figure out what differentiates your institution from your competitors 🚀
Who is your target market? What is your institution most known for? How are you different from your top competitors? These are three questions that will help inform your marketing strategy. Dive into your historical enrollment data and conduct surveys (you should be collecting pointed surveys after every prospective student experience as well as periodically surveying current students). This allows you to create a strategy that is informed by data. Every college and university has that one thing that differentiates it from the competition. Once you can explain that difference, tell the world your unique brand story.
3. Look outside of higher education for inspiration 👀
Which brands inspire you? Have you had an amazing brand experience recently? Every enrollment team has the ability to pull inspiration from consumer brands that they interact with on a daily basis. It's in these experiences that we learn what great customer service looks like and how to apply those principles to a prospective student experience.
I think about a few recent experiences I had with Warby Parker, the company changing how we buy eyeglasses. The experience started online while browsing the website, continued with targeted advertisements across multiple digital platforms, all leading me to visit a store. Then, in one visit, I was able to receive an eye exam (which I was able to easily schedule online), have multiple touch points with team members in-store, and seamlessly pay for my eyeglasses. A day or so after my visit, I received a quick survey to give my feedback on the experience, too.
These digital and in-person experiences with Warby Parker left me filled with ideas to apply to my own marketing work and inspired my thinking of how to improve our client's student experiences.
4. Create continuous and unique engagement 🙌
This is pretty obvious, but Gen Z (and their parents) spend a lot of time on social media. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok are able to have a massive impact on prospective students and their parents. You already have a lot of the information you need about your prospective students, so leverage that and create targeted advertisements and use these platforms to reach the students you hope to recruit.
In addition to your regular marketing campaigns, you should be texting with your prospective students and their parents. Say 👋 to prospective students, offer them unique experiences on campus or online, and create opportunities to meet with various offices and with professors. This level of concierge customer service will set you apart from your competitors and allow you to build a relationship with prospective students.