How to Create a Successful Student Enrollment Campaign

Topics: Marketing Toolkit, Public Relations, Digital Media, Higher Ed Marketing, Media + Advertising, Campus Media

Posted by: Marketing

We recently discussed what a state-of-the-art student enrollment marketing campaign consists of and how an effective recruitment campaign strengthens your school’s reputation, extends your reach, generates additional leads, attracts more qualified applicants, and increases overall enrollment. Here we examine the three pillars of our proven higher education marketing strategy. Learn how to create a successful student enrollment campaign for your institution or program step-by-step.



The 3 Deliverables of Exceptional Service - Discover, Create, Execute

Our results-driven marketing strategy for student enrollment has three pillars: discover, create and execute. As you follow this process, you will:

  • DISCOVER your marketing goals, identify your target market persona, and explore the best marketing tactics for the job at hand.
  • CREATE a full-funnel holistic plan that includes the right mix of paid advertising (digital and traditional) and earned, owned, and shared media.
  • EXECUTE your recruitment campaign, track your results, and refine if necessary.


+ Download our Discover. Create. Execute. infographic.




“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”


The above quote illustrates how important proper preparation is to success. This remains true no matter what worthwhile endeavor you are pursuing. When you consider how to create a successful marketing strategy for student recruitment, there are several preparatory steps marketing directors should undertake to ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

Define the problem.

Begin by examining your existing marketing strategy or lack there-of. What’s working? What’s not working? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current plans and efforts?

Uncover your marketing goals.

Well-defined marketing goals are essential for effective advertising. Are you looking to build and strengthen your institution’s role and reputation? Support enrollment efforts for specific degrees or other programs? How much is your outcome worth? (For example, each student enrolled full-time might equal an additional $20,000 of revenue for your school.)

You need to create crystal-clear objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Be exacting when you specify your purpose, and make your desired results something that can be easily measured. (For example, "From this effort, we want to receive 25 completed applications.") 

As you’re establishing your marketing goals, you must also be realistic. If you currently have an average of 100 monthly website visitors, you shouldn’t expect to multiply that a hundred-fold overnight. 

In addition, your specific goals should be relevant to your overall objectives and the current market conditions. A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is now the right time?
  • Does this match our other existing efforts and needs?
  • Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?

Establishing deadlines for accomplishing your marketing goals is equally important. A timeline will help your team visualize your destination clearly, put the right steps in place to get there and ensure that you arrive at the optimum moment. Just remember, real results take time.

Identify a buyer persona for your target audience.

The second step in developing a successful student enrollment campaign is identifying a buyer’s persona for your target audience. After all, the best way to successfully engage with any audience is to understand who they are and what they want. Consider their personal background, role, challenges, goals, how they learn and more.


MSSmedia Buyer Persona Worksheet


+ Get our buyer persona identification worksheet.


Research both the marketplace and your competitors.

A strong understanding of your industry and your competition is vital. Knowing who and what performs well and why will inevitably influence your marketing strategy. Review what’s already available in the market and how you measure up to your competitors. Stay aware of current trends and don’t coast with the status quo. 

Learn more about current marketing channels.

Begin by identifying the marketing channels and assets you already have in place. Take the time to learn about new and trending marketing channels and ways of getting your message out to your target audience. Consider whether you should incorporate additional tactics into the mix, or if you need to amplify any of your existing efforts.



As you use the knowledge you’ve gained from the discovery process to create your marketing strategy, be aware that your student enrollment campaign will be most effective if it integrates a wide range of tactics and addresses every stage of the buyer’s journey. 

Pay attention to how much you will need to invest to reach your goals using the tactics you choose. Consider the expected time commitment as well, and be sure you have the available bandwidth to take the necessary action steps.

An integrated marketing strategy for student housing incorporates traditional campus advertising, digital marketing tactics, and PR.

By combining tactics from these three marketing arenas, you can extend your reach while each part of your marketing campaign amplifies the efforts of the others. This holistic view incorporates appropriate combinations of traditional out of home and print advertising, display, video, search, social, earned media, influencer marketing and promotional events to produce the outcomes you're looking for. 


+ See the top five campus advertising strategies for college recruitment.

+ Learn more about PR for education & how it increases student enrollment.


To maximize effectiveness and keep costs in line, you will want to include the right mix of paid, earned, owned, and shared media. And in this increasingly virtual era, digital marketing tactics are especially important.

  • Social Media: Each social media site serves a distinct purpose and your company needs to know how to utilize each of these platforms.
  • Mobile: It is important that companies know how to optimize their campaigns for a mobile setting and make the mobile shopping experience as easy and seamless as possible.
  • Video: Videos are a key marketing tool and are rapidly growing in popularity. With video, your marketing message can be effectively conveyed to a wide audience faster than ever before.


+ Learn how digital marketing tactics drive successful college recruitment.


Consider the buyer's journey.

To effectively motivate your target audience to act, it’s important to understand their journey from the top of the funnel (awareness), through the middle (consideration), to the bottom (decision/action). Taking the time to grasp this process is another student enrollment campaign best practice.




+ Get the complete Buyer’s Journey infographic.


You should also consider the buyer's journey in relation to the goals you’ve established for your marketing campaign.

  • Awareness: Are you looking to amplify your brand awareness in the market?
  • Considerations: Are you looking to win over (with your program or institution’s features and benefits) college applicants who know what they want?
  • Conversions: Are you looking for engagements (applications)?

And remember, your marketing strategy must focus, not just on your service or product, but on your customer’s needs. This is the golden rule of marketing. 

Ensure that your messaging hones in on how your customers will benefit from what you’re offering. Have a comprehensive understanding of your institution or program’s assets and how they meet your target applicant’s needs, and then be sure to communicate that information in clear, simple terms to your target audience



Once you’ve mapped out a clear, concise and well-considered campaign strategy, it’s time to execute! As you launch your plan, be sure you have tools in place to measure the success of your campaign. To optimize effectiveness, you will need to track your results and be prepared to refine and adjust your strategy if necessary.


+ See samples of successful full-funnel integrated marketing campaigns.


Would you like to learn more about how to create a successful student enrollment campaign? See our complete guide to increasing student enrollment through marketing.




Here at MSSmedia, we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSSmedia a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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