Marketing Communications Advice Education

5 Lessons From Successful University Marketing Campaigns

Colleges and universities looking to stay relevant with today’s potential students are presented with a unique challenge to create and share content that entertains and inspires. And, as new student enrollment continues to decline  year over year it’s becoming increasingly important to implement marketing strategies that have a proven track record. So, here are 5 lessons your institution can implement into your next campaign to help engage potential students.

Lesson 1: Get Emotional

According to several studies, appealing to your prospective student’s emotions with a positive spin can help make your message resonate. In fact, a  Nielson study  found that individuals are 8.4x more likely to trust a company and 7.1x more likely to make a purchase when they feel a positive emotion from that brand.

What’s more, showcasing real and shared experiences with photography and video can help invite your prospective students in, such as an inspiring story of an alumni’s financial life after getting their degree, or showing how networking through school helped change a life. For example, a Harvard University campaign showed how two graduates with disabilities connected and worked together to form a resource that empowered other students. Whichever stories you choose to highlight, as WordStream notes, it is import to “think outside the box and pull together some compelling story lines to draw new leads in.”

Lesson 2: Emphasize Career Outcomes 

In a  2019 survey  of American college freshmen administered by  the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, the most popular reason cited for attending college is to get a good job.  While that may come as no surprise to some, it emphasizes the fact that alumni careers are an effective strategy to showcasing the possibilities with a degree-seeking students. One great way to do this is to highlight outstanding alumni and work with them to become brand ambassadors off campus. Another, is to take Boston College’s approach with a webpage dedicated to listing the career outcomes for their previous students.

Lesson 3: Know Your Audience

When it comes to reaching prospective students, instead of a general and wide approach, aim for narrow and niche. Is your university known for environmental science? Or an outstanding business school? Personalizing your message to prospective students with interests in the programs your University is known for is more likely to resonate and engage those prospective students. This is especially true in targeted social campaigns across age, gender, detailed targeting and interests for current high school students. Justing as we’ve covered in  5 Post-COVID Branding Trends for Universities, “If you try to appeal to every possible student looking to go to college, you might not be speaking as directly as you could be to those students who would be the perfect match for your school and who are more likely to enroll if you’re able to connect with them in the right way.”

Lesson 4: Pivot to Video

It’s a phrase popularized by the rise of short-form content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat and TikTok. But it couldn’t be more true when it comes to getting your university in front of prospective students. Video content is digestible, visually stimulating, has the power to convey a powerful message effectively and is suited to the mobile experience. And seeing as how 8 in 10 students visit college websites on mobile, this is an incredibly  important factor. Furthermore, marketers who use video  grow revenue 49% faster  than marketers who don’t. It’s also no secret in the higher education industry, with  86% of universities  and colleges having a presence on YouTube. 

One great example is a Leeds University campaign ‘Student Life at Leeds’ which  “not only speaks the language of existing and prospective students, but puts people in the shoes of someone studying at the university in a way that is visually inspiring.”

Lesson 5:  Showcase UGC

A study from Digital Marketing Institute found that “brand engagement improves by  28%  when consumers are exposed to both professional and user-generated content.”  Plus, the same study found that 9 out of 10 students  consult a college search review site when researching where to study. From this, it’s clear that prospective students trust the insights and opinions of their peers, which is all the more reason to leverage user-generated content (UGC) in your next campaign. This could take the form of student social media takeover days, student-led Q&A sessions via Facebook or Instagram live and even guest blog posts on your institution’s website written by existing students or alumni. Any of these UGC strategies can help your prospective students to connect with existing students on a personal level, which shows transparency and builds trust with your brand.

For more on how Push can help with your education marketing efforts, contact us or here or call 407-841-2299.