Marketing 101: Effectively Communicate with Prospective Students

In today’s digital world, more and more higher education marketers are becoming aware of the integral role that effective communication plays in optimizing their marketing plan. If you work in the academic sector and are looking for ways to optimize communication with prospective college students so that you can enhance enrollment rates, this is the article for you. Below you’ll find several strategies you can implement to make your college marketing plan as effective as possible:

1. Communicate with the Prospective Student’s Parents.

Oftentimes, marketers think of prospective students as the primary target for their marketing campaigns. While communicating with your potential student is indeed important, it is equally imperative for your marketing team to share the value of your college brand with the student’s parents when targeting first time freshmen. This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that parents tend to play an integral role in helping a student determine which college to enroll in. For example, many parents are inclined to avoid enrolling their child in a school where they feel tuition is too high. Yet if you build the value of your college brand through a painstakingly detailed brochure which outlines all of the wonderful services and amenities the child can attain at your university, the parent will likely reconsider. In addition to including information regarding financial matters such as affordability and scholarships, make sure that you’re emphasizing factors like your exceptional instructors and the school’s diverse course offerings. Driving home your value proposition compared to other institutions is key.

2. Optimize Your Website.

Another strategy you can implement to effectively communicate with prospective students is optimizing your website. This marketing strategy is important and effective because globally, millions of students search for universities via the internet. As such, maintaining an innovative, engaging, information-rich website can be the key to keeping your prospects interested in your university. Luckily, there is an endless number of web design and development techniques you can deploy to attract traffic to your site and keep students interested in your brand once they arrive. Remember that using responsive web design techniques is imperative because many students will be utilizing mobile devices to access your product pages. And since most students are thinking about tuition and whether they’ll be able to afford going to your institution, make sure the site includes a tuition cost calculator and scholarship information.

3. Access the Power Of Social Media.

Social media has become an incredibly effective medium through which to communicate the value of a brand to one’s unique audience. This principle holds true for marketers who want to promote their college brand, so make sure you do some research to determine which social channels your target prospective students use most consistently. This can include anything from Google+ to Twitter and Facebook. Also consider the value of using a social app such as Snapchat. Millennials now use this social app to follow beloved brands and get news. In recognizing the prevalence and power of Snapchat, many other universities have begun interfacing with prospects and students through this social app. In fact, The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay sent their acceptance announcements to students with video confetti via Snapchat. This type of engaging, exciting mode of communication can keep students interested in (and appreciative of!) your university.

4. Email, Email, Email.

While direct mail and telephone can be effective marketing modalities, research studies indicate that email is the student’s preferred method of communication. As such, college officials who want to market effectively and boost retention rates should focus on devising customized, cutting edge email campaigns. To make the most of this strategy, it’s important to do some target market research. This research work will help you determine the type of layouts and information that should be included in the emails to increase the prospect’s likelihood of reading it and selecting your institution. Anything from advertising a colorful university t-shirt to offering the student an opportunity to visit campus and take a free all-day pottery class can increase the prospect’s level of interest. Thus as you put your email campaign together, remember that knowing your audience will play a key role in determining the efficacy of this marketing strategy.

5. Continue Communicating After Admission.

We aren’t at the finish line yet! This step is immensely important for multiple reasons. First, the newly admitted student may have applied to several institutions and gained admittance to another one. When this is the case, the student may be swayed to select your institution over the other college if you go out of your way to make her or him feel welcomed and valued.
Second, ongoing communication with the new student helps you build a relationship with her or him, thereby enhancing rapport and increasing the likelihood that they won’t feel alienated or isolated once they arrive on campus. As such, you’ll want to develop a dynamic, detail-oriented post-acceptance communications plan which reinforces the admitted pupil’s desire to attend your university. The marketing material should include messages which outline what the student’s next steps will be so that they don’t become confused or overwhelmed throughout the enrollment process.

If you want to optimize your college’s marketing campaign, note that figuring out how to effectively communicate with your prospects and newly admitted students is imperative. Utilize some or all of the tips and techniques outlined in this quick reference guide to ensure that you can optimize enrollment and retention rates this year.

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