college students walking around campus

Attract More Students to Your School: 5 Higher Education Marketing Strategies (Part 1)

By Ivan Boychuk on October 26, 2020
    
	There are more than 300 recognized public and private post-secondary educations in Canada. Each year, all of these schools are competing to attract more students to their programs.

An effective marketing plan is absolutely critical for your school to stand out in the crowd.

This post highlights five marketing strategies for higher education organizations that can be used to achieve outstanding results.

Let’s take a look!

1. Multichannel Marketing

How Can It Help Attract More Students?

Multichannel marketing is a strategy that involves using more than one medium to get in front of your ideal audience. For example, instead of just using email, you might consider using direct mail, social media, and email to send out your message. This can be a very effective strategy for schools and educational institutions because it provides more opportunities for students to see your message. Also, you might think that it’s only worthwhile to target today’s students using digital strategies, however, data suggests that 92% of 18-23-year olds find it easier to read print compared to digital media. That’s why it’s critical to invest in a marketing strategy that covers all the bases - print, digital, and everything in-between!

What the Data Shows

  • 72% of people say they would rather connect with organizations through multichannel marketing.
  • Today’s consumers average nearly six touchpoints before making a purchase decision.
  • 90% of consumers expect consistent interactions across channels.

How to Get Started With Multichannel Marketing

Here are a few necessary steps for getting started with a multichannel marketing strategy for your higher-education organization.
  • Identify your target demographic.
  • Select the channels that are most likely to resonate with students.
  • Create consistent messaging across all channels and platforms.
  • Test your results
  • Make changes and relaunch.
The initial period of a multichannel marketing strategy involves a fair amount of trial and error. However, once you find what works, you can begin to implement automated systems. That’s when the real results start to roll in! Remember, sometimes it makes sense to outsource. If your organization hasn’t implemented a multichannel marketing strategy before, consider hiring a professional marketing service with experience in the higher education space.

2. Influencer Marketing

imfluencer marketer sitting on couch

How Can It Help Attract More Students?

With all the social media platforms now available, it’s never been easier for regular people to build a large online following. And, of course, what seems to coincide with a large following? Influence. Influencer marketing leverages the influence of others to achieve a certain amount of “sway” over a particular audience. It is quickly becoming one of the most trusted forms of marketing because, rather than an ad from a faceless company, consumers feel like they know the influencers they follow.  This means that if an influencer recommends a certain product or service - or educational institution - it’s almost like a recommendation from a friend. In higher education, this can be an extremely effective marketing strategy, seeing that most prospective students these days are active on Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, and other social media platforms.

What the Data Shows

  • 70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities.
  • Influencer marketing campaigns earn $6.50 for every dollar spent.
  • 74% of people trust social networks to guide their purchasing decisions.

How To Get Started

To have success with influencer marketing, you’ll need to carefully consider three main questions: Which influencer will you select? The influencer you select should align with your target audience and the type of students you are trying to attract. Your influencer must: Have a strong presence within the appropriate age-range - as a higher-education institution, your best bet would be to select an influencer with a strong presence within the 17-25-year-old age group as this is the most common age range for university applicants. Align with your institution’s values - if the influencer you select does not align with your school’s core values, your efforts will have been in vain. For most higher education institutions, it’s a good idea to stick to the self-improvement/learning space when it comes to picking influencers. Match your goals - are you trying to attract more international students? In this case, it’s worthwhile to consider a foreign influencer who has some pull over the type of students you’re looking to attract. Which platform will you choose? At the time of this post (2020), the best platforms for influencer marketing are Instagram, Youtube, and blogging. It’s important to choose the one that’s most likely to capture the attention of your target audience. That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of influencer marketing across multiple platforms. In fact, this can provide a significant boost to the success of your campaign because people are likely to follow their favourite influencers across several social media sites. What is your budget? The cost of partnering with an influencer usually depends on the size of their audience. According to an article published by Digiday, Instagram influencers with 100,000 followers will charge approximately $1,000 per post, which works out to a price of $0.01 per follower. On the other hand, Youtube influencers with 10,000 subscribers will generally charge about $2,000 per sponsored video. This uptick in price is due to the fact that video content is much more time-intensive compared to a simple Instagram post.

3. Social Media

How Can It Help Attract More Students?

By now, social media has become a mainstream marketing method that’s used by businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, political parties, and many other types of groups to draw attention to their cause. social media However, this marketing method can be extremely helpful for attracting more students to your school. According to an article published by the Globe and Mail, the median age of university students is 22.8 years old while the average age at graduation is 24.8 years old. Compare this to the fact that 95% of adults aged 18-24 have a Facebook account, 90% have a Youtube account, and 67% have an Instagram account, and you can begin to see why social media is such an effective tool for post-secondary institutions to attract new students.

What the Data Shows

  • Gen Z spends an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes on social media every day.
  • Over 70% of prospective students are using social media to research their college options.
  • 72% of teens are active on Instagram.

How to Get Started

Develop a Strategy Posting on social is great, but in order to see the best results, you need to create a thorough strategy. This will help you:
  • Save time
  • Stay focused on your goals
  • Create better content
  • Stay consistent with your message
  • Increase your social media ROI
Your strategy should cover the type of posts you’ll publish, the frequency in which they will be published, as well as the publish date and time. Emphasize Variety If you’ve followed any social media account for more than a few months, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes they fall into the trap of republishing the same content. In order to keep students engaged, you need to consider the element of novelty. Each post you create should serve a specific purpose. For example, you should:
  • Tell them something they don’t know.
  • Provide content with entertainment value.
  • Inform them of upcoming events or activities.
Here are a few of the different types of posts that you can use to engage prospective - or current - students:
  • News updates
  • Scholarship opportunities
  • Upcoming events on campus
  • Surveys
  • Alumni success stories
Also, in order to increase engagement with each post, you can have regular giveaways. In exchange for sharing, liking, or commenting on one of your posts, offer to put students’ names into a draw for some type of prize. This could be something as simple as a hoodie from the university gift shop. Or, if you really want to drive up engagement, using the latest tech as your prize always helps. The key here is to offer the chance to win something students actually want, not just a lanyard with your school’s logo printed on it. Analyze Results Arguably the most important part of any social media marketing strategy is to observe the data to determine what’s working and what isn’t. As former HP CEO Carly Fiorina once said, “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” Thankfully, today there exists dozens of helpful tools that make it easy to determine the success of your social media efforts. Here are a few of the best: Once the data paints you a picture, you can begin refining your strategy.

4. Optimize Your Website for Mobile Use

How Can It Help Attract More Students?

The average Canadian spends 2 hours, 54 minutes on a mobile device throughout the day. At first, this seems like a statistic that’s blown way out of proportion. But think about it... You check your phone when you’re watching TV, laying in bed, eating, and engaging in many other activities. using smartphone in bed And, with each younger generation, the amount of time spent on mobile devices is increasing. With that in mind, making sure your website is optimized for mobile use is a great way to attract more students to your school.

What the Data Shows

  • 40% of mobile users turn to a competitor’s website if provided an unsatisfactory mobile web experience.
  • 70% of all mobile searches result in action after just 1 hour.
  • The average person checks their smartphone 46 times a day.

How to Get Started

There are seven things you can do that will help your website perform better on mobile devices:
  1. Test your site - Google has a free tool that allows you to instantly see how mobile-friendly your site is. All you need to do is enter your URL into the search box and it will tell you whether or not your site is mobile friendly. If it is, this is the page you’ll see:
If, on the other hand, your site isn’t mobile-friendly, the tool will tell you what issues you need to correct to fix it.
  1. Improve Page Loading Speed - for this, Google provides another free tool called Page Speed Insights. Again, this tool allows you to simply input your site’s URL and then it will provide you with a page speed score:
screenshot of Hubspot's page speed insight When testing your site, make sure that the “mobile” tab in the top left corner is selected. It’s generally a good idea to shoot for a page-load time of 2-3 seconds or less. Any longer than that and bounce rates will increase significantly. If you notice your site is taking too long to load on mobile devices, contact your web designer immediately to address the issue.
  1. Create an App - a mobile app has the benefit of allowing you to connect with students directly from your own interface. Apps can be used by students to view their class schedule, sign up for extra-curricular activities, connect with professors, view lecture notes, purchase course-required material, and much more.

5. Invest in Direct Mail

How Can It Help Attract More Students?

With the heavy online presence observed within the university-aged demographic, you might be wondering, “how can direct mail provide results that are comparable to digital marketing strategies?”  There are three main reasons.
It Provides a Break from Over-saturated Digital Marketing Strategies
Have you ever opened your email inbox only to discover that it’s filled with promotional messages from dozens of companies? screenshot of email inbox If so, you’re not alone. As a result of this barrage of emails, many people choose to empty their inbox without reading a single one of them. Of course, email marketing has proven to be a very effective strategy, however, that’s only if it is used properly. If you notice poor open rates for your email campaigns, it might be a good idea to spend some time creating a targeted direct mail campaign. As mentioned earlier, 92% of 18-23-year-olds find it easier to read print media compared to digital, and that’s the approximate age where students are most likely to apply for post-secondary education.
It’s Highly Personalized
Direct mail can also be personalized to include the recipient’s name on the piece, significantly increasing the chances that it will be read. You can even create scented direct mail pieces that further enhance the sensory experience of your message which helps boost brand recall.
It’s Targetable
It’s never been easier to make sure direct mail ends up in the hands of your ideal prospects. By using tools like Canada Post’s Precision Targeter, you can filter through 14 different demographics! This allows you to send direct mail to prospects based on things like driving distance from your school, age, income, and more.

What the Data Shows

  • Since 2004, direct mail response rates have increased by 14% while email response rates have decreased by 57%.
  • 56% of consumers trust print marketing more than any other type of advertising.
  • 61% of Gen Zers believe their peers would benefit from unplugging more.

How to Get Started

Most direct mail campaigns involve five key steps: Generate a mailing list - the first step of a direct mail campaign is to develop a targeted mailing list. After all, without addresses to send the pieces to, this strategy will be stopped in its tracks. In order to have the most success, use previously collected data or targeting tools to create a relevant mailing list. Design/Copy - now it’s time to work on the actual message of the piece. To create messaging that truly resonates with your target demographic, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional copywriter and graphic designer. Production - next, you need to hire a print company to produce direct mail. The print production team will transform the final design into the end product that will be shipped out to prospects. Shipping - each direct mail piece will be shipped out to its intended target. Depending on the print provider you choose, they will often take care of this step for you. Make changes if necessary - no campaign is perfect. After you have launched, continue to assess the results and see where improvements could be made. Sometimes all it takes is a few different words or a well-placed graphic to boost response rates.

Looking For an Automated Marketing System To Help Attract More Students to Your School?

It can be difficult to get your school to stand out from all the rest. Luckily, there’s a solution. ION’s multichannel marketing service (ChainReactION) is perfect for post-secondary institutions looking to attract more students. We use a combination of the marketing strategies mentioned in this post, including:
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Social media
  • Custom landing pages
  • And more...
When used in isolation, these strategies might not deliver the results you’re looking for. However, when used together, they create an air-tight marketing strategy designed to increase your marketing ROI! Contact us today to learn more.