Make Your Student Recruitment Pandemic-Proof With These 5 Digital Marketing and Content Tips
The digital marketing and communication lessons of the pandemic will help higher ed institutions connect with recruits and their parents in 2021 and beyond
One of the most enduring aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is the level of restraint it has introduced in our daily lives. Our attitudes and behavior have changed as a result, not as a matter of choice but as a matter of necessity, and these changes include the way students find universities to attend.
Higher ed institutions are quickly coming to terms with the fact that the traditional methods of recruiting students are not suited for the extraordinary times ushered in by the pandemic. However, instead of lowering the bar and reducing your expectations, you can turn to digital strategies to boost your chances of attracting and recruiting students. Here are five digital strategies you can adopt right now to boost student recruitment:
1. Allocate more of your marketing budget to online channels and strategies
With the entire world compelled to check the distance between one and another, many physical events that would have been the bedrock of student recruitment have been canceled. This necessitates digital strategies as a means to offset the effects of the pandemic.
Universities that adopt digital marketing strategies as a way to reach and attract potential students stand a greater chance of meeting recruitment goals than their counterparts who don’t.
This switch to digital is happening across the board. For example, research carried out by Singular found that 73% of leading marketers are ramping up their budgets for online advertising. Marketers are allocating 28% more of their budget towards online advertising, 15% more towards organic growth, 12% more towards social media, and 18% more towards content marketing.
This makes sense given that more are people using the internet today than ever before. You could do the same by reviewing your current online marketing strategy to look for ways to make it more ambitious and effective in recruiting students.
Higher ed marketers should:
- Prioritize countries they’ve already successfully recruited from in the past
- Consider any cultural nuances when creating content and advertising campaigns in order to ensure your design and words are effective
- Make your message relevant by highlighting the extraordinary circumstances triggered by the global health crisis.
- Remain flexible and offer multiple options for learning, like studying from home for the first years where possible.
Essentially, you want to identify and understand the needs of the population you’re trying to reach, and then drum up a communication strategy that meets those needs.
2. Increase email marketing efforts and digital communication
Alternative communication methods are of the utmost importance to your recruitment goals now that physical presence has been restricted. Email marketing is your best bet when it comes to getting direct access to potential students while they remain in the comfort and relative safety of their own homes.
Most (76%) high-school students rate email as their preferred form of communicating with universities. You can leverage this fact when keeping in touch with existing students or prospective students during this period by trusting email.
You can get started right away by offering a free downloadable content piece to people who visit your higher ed website in exchange for their email addresses. From there, you can start sharing useful information with them about your university, scholarships, campus tours, and how to succeed at higher education. You could even point them to testimonials from existing students and the FAQ section.
3. Invest more in your social media presence
Social distancing has not stopped people from meeting and connecting over social media, making this medium one of the best ways to attract prospective students to your institution.
Some of the newer social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, are popular among the age groups that are most attractive for student recruitment. You can quickly gather a following on these platforms by sharing:
- Useful tips on how to excel at university
- Content showing student extra-curricular activities
- Video tours of the university
- Newsworthy content about the faculty
You can even bring students in on the act by creating a hashtag and asking them to tag the university in their posts, especially those that have to do with university-related activities like group study. This content can be reshared over and over across multiple accounts, garnering interest and inquiries along the way.
4. Plan and execute virtual experiences to boost student recruitment
Now that students are unable to make the trip to campuses, savvy marketers and recruiters can bring the campus to them by way of virtual tour experiences.
Interactive online events are the way to go when you want to enable prospective students and their families to learn all they can about the different majors, internships, research opportunities, and so on at your school.
Virtual tours are also great because you can use them over and over for many years, so consider them an investment that will keep bearing fruit long after the global crisis is over. Students who may not have the means to make multiple trips will be grateful for the chance to familiarize themselves with a place they plan to spend the next four years.
5. Train university staff to be ready to provide support to potential students
Adding new technology to your student recruitment efforts without adequate support can leave new students, and even some staff, frustrated as they try to get a hang of things. eLearning solutions and video conferencing are just a few of the things students and staff are going to need help with.
You could make this adoption process seamless by providing guides, tutorials, and other resources to help answer the most common questions people ask. This shortens the learning curve for all involved.
All in all, you need to sound and be as human as possible in order to meet your student recruitment goals. These are trying times, and students want to see that you understand that and care about it.
Reach out to Kwall
Succeeding online requires both knowledge of what to do and support to enable you to do them. For over a decade, KWALL has been the No.1 agency partner for higher ed institutions looking to boost their presence online and create powerful web experiences for the benefit of their present and future student bodies, staff, and brands.
If you would like more information on how to succeed online and meet your student recruitment goals in spite of the challenges of the present global health crisis, contact KWALL today