For marketing directors struggling with how to increase enrollment, successfully recruiting students is often a real challenge. Institutions of higher education face competition from over 5,000 colleges and universities located throughout the United States. Meanwhile, choosing marketing tactics that are right for your school, reach your intended audience, fit your budget and deliver the results you’re looking for can feel like shooting arrows at a target while wearing a blindfold.
A full funnel higher education marketing strategy incorporates traditional campus advertising, digital marketing and public relations
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 display, video, search, social, earned media, influencer marketing and promotional events to produce the outcomes you're looking for.
Digital Marketing is an essential part of any college recruitment campaign
The umbrella term “digital marketing” encompasses an enormous range of tactics and new media assets. Everything from digital higher education advertising to your website and social media channels falls under this category. Email marketing, online brochures and content marketing have their place as well.
The world of digital marketing can be overwhelming. Experienced recruiters may be tempted to focus the majority of their efforts and budget elsewhere. However, this ever-expanding sector is key to recruiting students in today’s crowded market.
Online, email and text marketing reach millennials and Gen Z exactly where they’re spending the majority of their time – on their smartphones. Through these channels you can amplify your branding efforts, extend your marketing reach and build deeper relationships with your target audience.
But where should you focus your digital marketing activity? It’s important to choose the channels that best fit your needs and are proven to deliver real results. For recruiters wondering how to increase enrollment in today’s market, paid digital ad campaigns are an excellent way to optimize your ROI.
Digital advertising campaigns can incorporate several different tactics.
These might include paid and organic search advertising, paid display advertising, social advertising, and mobile advertising.
DIGITAL ADVERTISING TACTICS
Text only search advertising can be paid or organic. Pay-per-click (PPC) is a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. It’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.
Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC. It allows advertisers to bid for ad placement in a search engine's sponsored links. These links appear when someone searches for a keyword that is related to the advertiser’s business offering. For every click sending a visitor to the advertiser’s website, the advertiser will pay the search engine a small fee.
Organic search advertising involves the creation of website content that will appear naturally in search engine results when users search for related topics.
PPC display advertising campaigns utilize static images, GIFs, or video and are a great way to boost your business. These paid online ad campaigns can re-engage users that have visited your website and help build brand awareness.
Social media advertising campaigns are an excellent way to generate leads and build brand awareness in its simplest form. These paid online campaigns establish loyalty and engage users.
IN-APP MOBILE TARGETING
This type of precision advertising uses mobile location services to reach consumers in real time when they’re near a point of interest, such as a university, store, or office. Location specific geo-targeted advertisements (or local PPC) ensures that the impressions you’re paying for reach the candidates you’re pursuing.
A number of factors determine how successful your PPC advertising campaign will be.
When PPC is working correctly, the per-click fee is trivial, because the visit is worth more than what you pay for it. A lot goes into building a winning PPC campaign, everything from researching and selecting the right keywords, to arranging keywords into well-organized campaigns and ad groups, to setting up PPC landing pages that are optimized for conversions.
While a number of factors determine how successful your PPC advertising campaign will be, you can achieve a lot by focusing on:
- Keyword Relevance - Crafting relevant PPC keyword lists, tight keyword groups, and proper ad text.
- Landing Page Quality - Creating optimized landing pages with persuasive, relevant content and a clear call-to-action, tailored to specific search queries.
- Quality Score - Rating high on Google for the quality and relevance of your keywords, landing pages, and PPC campaigns. Advertisers with better Quality Scores get more ad clicks at lower costs.
- Creative Copy - Enticing ad copy is vital; and if you're advertising on the display network, you can use a tool like our free Smart Ads Creator to create designer-quality ads that will demand clicks.
Traditional Campus Advertising delivers enrollment campaign results and more
Whether you’re trying to attract community college students to your four-year campus or recruiting existing students for advanced education programs, specific degree programs or wellness services, effective campus advertising helps you meet your recruitment goals.
Targeting your advertising efforts geographically is a smart move. College campuses concentrate your target audience in a small area as students live, eat, socialize and learn within a few square miles. Build your brand voice and capture revenue through strategically placed outdoor and transit advertising, print advertisements, chalk art and graffiti.
OUTDOOR & TRANSIT ADVERTISING
Whether delivered via billboard, signs or screens, out-of-home (OOH) media and transit advertising generate repeated exposure, delivering your message over and over again. The visual impact delivers more bang for your buck.
Build rapid exposure within a targeted area with postering. Available when larger advertising formats aren’t, posters can be placed in shopping centers, bookstores, cafes, breezeways and public buildings. High frequency repeat exposure produces real results.
Campus newspaper ads are another way to reach your target market on budget, with precision, quickly and effectively.
CHALK ART & GRAFFITI
Sidewalk art, chalk art, stenciling, clean graffiti and graffiti walls allow you to reach your audience in fun, surprising and unique ways that leave a lasting impression. Sidewalks offer a canvas for marketing your brand and promoting events in an artistic style that resonates with young adults.
Created by writing a message on a dirty sidewalk using pressured water and a stencil, clean graffiti has particular relevance for millennials and Gen Z. This environmentally friendly form of outdoor media creates a buzz and positions your institution as an innovative beacon of social responsibility.
Public Relations efforts fuel university branding campaigns
The public image that you create and promote for your school is vital to recruiting students. When your reputation both reaches and speaks directly to your target audience, you will generate meaningful results and move your KPI’s forward.
Effective ways for colleges to build their brands include earning media coverage, engaging in influencer marketing and taking part in successful promotional events. Hosting campus open houses and participating in post-secondary informational events at high schools can be particularly helpful in recruiting students.
Creating and properly executing an integrated marketing strategy is the key to driving enrollment
The term “marketing” covers a vast array of activities, tactics and tools. Without a detailed plan, your efforts are likely to be scattered, incomplete and ineffective. If you have separate blueprints in place for traditional campus marketing, digital marketing and public relations you stand to dilute the effect of the tactics you employ. Maximize your return on investment by creating a holistic marketing approach optimized to meet your specific needs and goals.
When you oversee all communications, marketing, message and branding activity for a school, college, or department, you’ve got a lot going on. Sure, you have an assistant or a team, but your plate is full to overflowing each and every day. Enlisting the help of a results driven media and PR agency that understands your unique needs and what motivates your target audience is a sure-fire way to develop a winning strategy. When you find the right partner, you benefit from their expertise. Save time and money while recruiting more students than ever before.