One of the many challenges universities have always faced is converting student prospects into applicants or enrollments. As the world goes increasingly digital, lead generation strategies have changed over time and altered how students begin their research process when looking for a college or university to apply to.
Our webinar titled “Converting Student Prospects: Using Pre-Applicant Behavior to Work Smarter” covered several tips for converting student prospects into applicants through digital marketing efforts. Here are some key takeaways from the webinar and suggestions for improving digital marketing efforts to increase student leads.
Learn how students are interacting with your institution already
An increasing sentiment in the digital marketing world is that businesses should stop thinking of their sales funnel as a linear process and more like a multi-entry process. For more significant decisions—which in the higher education world would mean more important decisions like which university a student will apply to—many data platforms like Google are urging businesses to consider their sales funnel as something that needs several entry points.
What this looks like in execution might be remarketing or running multiple digital marketing campaigns at once that all target the same group of leads. Students that are given several pathways to your institution will likely spend more time researching it and ultimately deciding to apply.
There is no downtime in keeping the brand visible in the market
Between international and domestic student leads, there will likely be no downtime in when you should begin marketing to new student leads, and the time you’ll spend remarketing to leads you’ve already gotten. Traditionally, many institutions found that a specific time of year was busier than others in their marketing efforts. Today, the digital marketing landscape shows that institutions are most successful when their campaigns are spread equally throughout the year.
The webinar focused heavily on the idea of remarketing throughout the year and with different campaigns among different demographics of students. For universities targeting international students, understanding the different timelines that students may be researching prospective universities can often help determine when the best times of the year are to execute specific campaigns.
Use data to your advantage
One great thing about the digital age is that there is so much data readily available. Universities can see exactly how prospective students are researching their institution—as well as others, and what search queries are being used the most. On Google, for example, keyword data to show what students are searching in their university research can help determine where to put most of your digital marketing efforts. Analytics reports can show how students are funneling to your website and what they’re looking at, and other keyword metrics can show gaps in your efforts against your competitors.
Lead program development based on student demand
Another way that institutions can use data to their advantage is to use it to lead program development within the actual curriculum. Use search engine data, analytics data, and other data available through Google and social media to determine what students are looking for in a university experience. In degree programs, for example, one suggestion is to use search engine data to determine which subject students are looking to learn about and cater your programs to fit those needs specifically.
Data within your own institution can tell a lot about student demand as well. Look at which classes have the highest enrollment rates and discuss with current students what they think they’re missing in their educational experience. For emerging industries, consult experts and businesses on what they’re looking for in candidates.
Use different platforms for different markets
For institutions looking to attract a wide range of international students, the experts in the webinar agreed that it is key to expand marketing efforts to platforms that each respective culture is familiar with. For students in Kenya and other African nations, for example, having a live chat on WhatsApp where student prospects could ask questions and communicate directly with an advisor helped increase conversions significantly, according to expert Jennifer Parsons, leader of UniQuest’s behavioral insights division.
Take some time to understand how student leads prefer to communicate in different parts of the world and deploy services to connect with them on those platforms. For student leads in the United States, for example, that might mean offering Q&A sessions on Zoom, increasing marketing efforts on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, or providing in-depth email services to help students communicate with the right program.
With a combined remarketing campaign effort across various platforms, throughout the year, nurturing and converting student prospects should feel much more achievable. What helps students make these life-changing decisions is consistency and having tools available for them to ask questions and research your institution without having to do the searching on their own.
Get the latest country-specific insights from prospective students by downloading our state of student recruitment market reports.
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