The landscape of higher education has changed. Today, higher education marketing is more important than ever. In the past, prospective students would request a course catalogue and pamphlets to be delivered via mail. Many students of yesteryear selected colleges based on where their family members attended. In the digital age, however, more students are selecting higher education institutions for the specific programs they offer, hire rates after graduation, and scholarship opportunities. Quite a lot of this information is available online, too so prospective students have an idea of what your institution has to offer before official communication begins.
Tips for Higher Education Marketing & Communication
Understand a Student’s Needs & Expectations
When it comes to higher education marketing, it’s important to present information in a way that treats a student like a customer. Simple, concise, and personalized messaging that highlights the benefits of attending your institution is vital to attracting today’s tech-savvy, information-conscious students.
Today’s students enter a highly specialized and competitive workforce. Many of them also take on substantial debt to achieve their desired education and career goals. In short, modern students are under quite a lot of pressure while also facing a good deal of uncertainty. Your institution’s messaging should operate with an understanding of a student’s needs and challenges.
The crux behind communicating with prospective students is to highlight what your institution and its programs has to offer. How does your university stand out from competitors? Does your institution help students earn internships? What types of career services do your programs offer? These questions can help you tailor your messaging for optimal appeal.
Include Parents & Guardians in Your Communications
While students are your primary audience, it is important to bear in mind that their parents and caregivers play a large role in the decision-making process. Like students, parents will have their own concerns and expectations. For example, parents and guardians tend to prioritize campus safety more than students. They may also want to know about social clubs and how students can assuage feelings of isolation and homesickness. This isn’t to say that information about post-graduation hire rates, internships, and tuition costs don’t matter to caregivers and parents. They do.
Know that Students See Education as an Investment
Although students at your university may partake in a soiree with their classmates or even join a fraternal organization, today’s students aren’t just attending college for freedom and pub crawls. Modern students are acutely aware of the need for their education to pay off in the long run.
Aside from purchasing a home, deciding which university to attend is one of the most important decisions a person can make in their lifetime. Most students view higher education as a worthwhile investment in their future. When communicating with prospective students, it is important to center your messaging on how attending your institution can pay off. Perhaps you have a robust network of alumni that have connections in a variety of industries or maybe your university has partnered with a large corporation for internships. This crucial information should be front and center on your direct mail, website, and social media platforms as it can help a student feel empowered in their school search.
Realize the Importance of Personalization
Personalized messaging can go a long way with prospective students. Technology makes this quite easy to accomplish, too. PURLs (personalized URLS to landing pages), variable fields in e-mail blasts, and variable data printing, can ensure that both your digital and print communication addresses your recipient by name. Maintaining accurate databases can help, too. Sorting recipients by program/major of interest and demographic data makes it easier to ensure that your communication resonates with their needs.
Pel Hughes is a woman-owned enterprise serving businesses, universities, and non-profit intuitions throughout the United States. We offer direct mail, cross media marketing, graphic design, campaign automation, and database services. Call our friendly pros at (504) 486-8646 to request a quote or visit our blog for more information about our offerings.