Strategic Marketing For Schools: 8 Ways To Reach Adult Learners

Topics: Higher Ed Marketing

Posted by: Marketing

Targeting adult learners is one of the most powerful ways to recruit college students in the current climate. But what are the best ways to incorporate this tactic into strategic marketing for schools? Learn 8 ways to reach adult learners.

Adult Learners


As discussed in our recent 3 Reasons to Target Adult Learners post, working adults look to higher education to maintain an existing job with new degree and/or skill requirements, advance their careers, pivot to new professions, etc. Their objectives and needs differ from those of new high school graduates, as do the most effective strategic marketing tactics for schools looking to engage them. Here are eight ways to reach adult learners with education advertising.


#1 Emphasize the programs and features that meet adult learners’ needs.

Adult learners want educational experiences that offer flexibility for work and family responsibilities, deliver a very specific set of skills to advance their careers, and allow for faster completion. Course cost and time to completion are often the deciding factors that lead adult learners to choose one program over another. 

To address these needs, explain work/learning integrations, share short student success stories, and detail positive outcomes and program ROI. Highlight the ways in which prior schooling and work experience might translate into credit hours at your institution.



“Great advertising triggers an emotion in you. It has purpose. It touches a nerve, and that provokes a reaction.” 



#2 Use key words and phrases that speak to adult learners.

As part of strategic marketing for schools, highlight phrases like ongoing education, professional certification, flexible scheduling, night/weekend classes, online classes, transfer credits, advanced placement, and accelerated pace.


#3 Use imagery that will resonate with your target audience.

Pictures of campus, dorm life, and sporting events likely won’t sway adult learners. Instead, consider including screenshots of online course materials, pictures of remote learners with families, and images of people moving up the career ladder.


Recruiting Adult Learners


#4 Make relevant information easy to find.

With work and family obligations, adult learners have a lot on their plates. They don’t have time to hunt through a complex website, make multiple phone calls, or send a series of emails to get the information they need. Utilize targeted advertising to provide relevant details up front. Create a web page specifically dedicated to adult learner information.


#5 Use modern marketing technology and tools.

Because adult learners have a different set of needs than the traditional on-campus student population, they can be harder to engage. Online advertising is often the best way to reach this target audience. Technology tools such as behavioral analytics can provide institutions with the means and information to better communicate with adult learners on their unique terms. Chatbots and text messaging offer instant answers for prospects seeking out quick information. 


#6 Maintain a presence on the right social media platforms.

While younger generations are increasingly moving to emerging channels like Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch, Facebook is still the most-used social media channel among Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. LinkedIn ads and sponsored InMails are other ways to target working adults.


MSSmedia Social Media Behavior




#7 Build partnerships with local employers.

To attract, maintain, and advance employees, many organizations offer tuition assistance and other incentives for those who earn new degrees and credentials or who maintain existing credentials. Partnerships with these businesses can be an excellent source of qualified leads. 


#8 Reach out to prior students.

While it would be wonderful if all college students completed their degrees on the first try, graduation rates are never 100%. This offers an excellent strategic marketing opportunity for schools. Use your existing relationships with prior students to provide information on the benefits of completing their degree or pursuing an alternative program. Include strategies for success and a list of available resources.


See our complete guide: Recruiting Students – A Marketing Plan to Increase College Enrollment.




Here at MSS Media, Inc., we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSS Media, Inc. 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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