How Has COVID-19 Impacted College Enrollment?
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is making it difficult for local and community colleges to recruit. Here's how your school can use digital marketing to boost its enrollment.
- COVID-19 has made higher ed recruiting harder: Small and medium schools are working harder to hit enrollment goals.
- Use innovative solutions: Leverage virtual tours, webinars, and social media to engage with students from around the world.
- Learn about your target audience: Develop student personas, so you can engage with the right students, at the right time, every time.
- Produce quality content: Provide students with timely, relevant, and accurate content that meets their expectations.
- Track your results: Monitor digital marketing campaigns to see how students are engaging with your college online and adjust digital marketing plans accordingly.
Local and community colleges across the United States are feeling the impact of COVID-19, particularly when it comes to enrollment. To better understand how college enrollment has changed during the pandemic, consider the following fall 2020 enrollment statistics from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center:
- Freshman enrollment declined 13.1% year over year
- Community college enrollment fell 10.1%
- Public colleges lost 4% of their enrollment
The pandemic has serious implications for colleges, and your school needs to plan accordingly so to drive enrollment for the next academic year.
3 ways to boost student enrollment
Your college may be struggling to engage students in the midst of the pandemic. There are several things you can do to connect with students and show them why your school is the right choice.
Let's look at three innovative solutions you can use to boost enrollment.
1. Virtual tours
The pandemic has forced colleges to rethink the way they conduct student tours. Where schools hosted in-person tours before the pandemic, virtual tours have been a great option during the crisis.
Virtual tours let students view your school from nearly any location. Students can access virtual tours on their smartphones and tablets and use them to get an up-close view of your classrooms, dorms, and other campus buildings. That way, students can enjoy unique virtual experiences that make it easy to see why your institution is the right choice.
You can establish virtual tours that students access at their convenience. Promote these tours via your website, social media channels, and other digital platforms to ensure students have no trouble finding them.
Students need information so they can understand what your college has to offer and if it matches their needs. Thanks to webinars, you can educate students about different aspects of your college and show them why your school is different from others.
There are a variety of ways to use webinars to promote your school. For example, you can host a webinar to educate students about degree programs, or you can set up a webinar to teach them about financial aid options. Regardless of the types of webinars you conduct, you can use these events to help students make an informed decision about your school.
Of course, webinars also provide a golden opportunity to bolster your marketing efforts. You can require students to submit their email, first and last name, and other contact information when they sign up. Then, follow up with those students after the webinar and keep them up to date about school news and events.
3. Social media
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are valuable, especially for colleges that want to drive enrollment. If you take full advantage of these platforms to promote your college, you can simultaneously boost student engagement and enrollment.
Social media is simple yet powerful. You can use social media channels to update students about enrollment deadlines, new course offerings, and other college news. At the same time, you can leverage social media to share personal stories about students, faculty, staff, and other members of your school's community.
How you use social media is up to you — but the more you use it, the more likely it becomes that students can learn about your college. If you include appropriate hashtags and high-quality images and share timely, relevant, and accurate content in your social media posts, you'll be well-equipped to generate interest from students. Plus, you can retrieve insights across your social media channels to find out who is engaging with you and how you can connect with them.
Along with the aforementioned solutions, digital marketing plays an important role in student enrollment.
Use digital marketing to drive student enrollment
A digital marketing strategy offers a great starting point to boost student enrollment. To create an effective digital marketing plan, you should:
1. Learn about your target audience
Establish student personas so you can identify who you want to reach and the best ways to reach them. Consider your target audience's perspective and why they would want to engage with your college. Then, you can allocate your digital marketing time, resources, and energy to uncover ways to connect with your intended audience.
2. Produce quality content
Create content that hits the mark with your target audience. Rather than immediately publish content to your website, blog, and other digital channels, focus on crafting quality content. Remember, quality content can engage, inform, inspire, and motivate students. If you prioritize quality over quantity, you will deliver content that students consistently enjoy.
3. Track your results
Monitor your digital marketing campaigns. It often helps to collect digital marketing data and produce regular reports. Over time, you will identify digital marketing trends and patterns you can use to further enhance your digital marketing campaigns.
Optimize your digital marketing and improve student enrollment
The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for colleges. To succeed in the new normal, you need a digital marketing strategy that ensures your college can stay connected to its students from anywhere at any time.
As the premier Web agency for higher ed, KWALL knows what it takes to develop a successful digital marketing plan. Our digital marketing thought leaders can help your school build and execute digital marketing strategies that deliver results, even in the new normal. To find out more or request a website audit, please contact KWALL today.