Four Simple Ways to Improve Your Student Outreach

5 min read

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Chelsea Castonguay Stanhope
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With so many universities competing for the same student interest, generating the right student leads for your institution can be challenging. 

To save time and money, colleges can make the most of our best practice tips to improve student outreach.

1. Use social media as a recruitment and marketing tool

Social media offers busy, information-seeking students opportunities to quickly peruse a lot of information, letting them more easily pick and choose what they want to interact with, or follow up on. However, rather than utilizing social media to individually connect, colleges should be using it as an opportunity to introduce students to their offerings.

Mstoner.com’s 2018 report indicated students want to connect with their peers on social media, but not necessarily interact with college officials. They prefer most, if not all, of their interactions with college officials to take place over email.

Our 2022 State of Student Recruitment survey found that email was still the most popular communication method by a long way - with 74.3% of our 20,000 prospective students voting for it as their preferred way to talk to colleges.

Online chats are also options students are heavily embracing. Therefore, consider social media as a chance for students to connect with prospective students, as well as a chance to highlight all the amazing opportunities at your school. It should be something used to pique interest.

 

SSR survey - 'What is your preferred communication method?'

communication methods

When utilizing social media, keep the information being shared fresh and relevant. Positive testimonials from alumni, student takeovers, as well as highlights of upcoming events, services, games, and other campus happenings are great ways to give students insight into what your university offers. According to Hootsuite.com, “Students won’t apply to a school they’ve never heard of before. But they do use social media to research schools they are interested in.” What’s posted on social media should make it easy for students to imagine themselves at your school, not only for a first year, but all the way through to graduation. 

2. Optimize your university website 

Students are more tech-savvy than ever, and are actively thinking about what they consume for information. This means if your website is clunky or outdated, it’s going to lose students to websites that are sleeker, faster, and have more up-to-date information. If it’s been awhile since your website has been reviewed, it may be time for an overhaul. Students are enjoying websites with opportunities to quickly connect with recruiters or to receive information without having to speak on the phone, or wait for an email response. Additionally, students want to know they’ll be valued as individuals by their university, and a welcoming, fresh website is a great place to start. For ideas on how to refresh your institution’s internet presence, check out these awesome community college websites. These sites offer exciting engagement in a clear, easy to navigate way that resonates with students.

Search engine optimization is more than just a buzz word. Since students are more frequently taking to the internet to investigate schools they’re interested in attending, “this makes it imperative for universities to maintain a well-updated website, optimized with the latest SEO best practices.” If you want your university to be the one students are attracted to, then having your school rise to the top of Google’s search results is important. An SEO audit and overhaul of your website might be the ticket, but this can sometimes be an expensive and time consuming project, depending on available resources and a long-term perspective. If you are low on resources, then simple changes such as formatting, text and focus on relevant keywords in the content of your website can be an effective start.

3. Take your online visibility to the next level

If you are looking for a way to quickly generate visibility and qualified student leads in addition to improving your own website's SEO, then companies like Keystone harness the power of organic SEO to improve online presence. With a portfolio of 460 multilingual websites including brands such as Masterstudies.com and Onlinestudies.com, Keystone is able to help institutions effectively reach students directly as they search for a study program online. 

4. Create a sense of connection with tailored communications

With so many options to choose from, students are looking for a school that not only offers an excellent education, and return on investment, but also the opportunity to belong. While in the past students were often one number of many, today’s student wants to feel like a valued, individual member of their university community. Schools that are finding and securing quality leads are frequently connecting with their students on an individual basis. Therefore, if you’re looking for ways to boost prospective student interest, consider creating opportunities for customized interactions with leads.

As G. John Cole wrote for Keystone Academic Solutions, “Spend time establishing and optimizing your school’s tone and digital presence and you’ll be able to quickly and effectively communicate with the majority of your students and spend more time focusing on those who may feel alone or that they’re in danger of falling through the gaps in the system.” This may mean reaching beyond your marketing department to help coordinate with other functional areas at your school. All student support staff should feel educated and comfortable with responding to basic questions from prospective students, or be able to accurately and swiftly refer them to the right resource as necessary. Allowing prospective students to feel as though they’re being bounced around, or worse, letting them fall through the cracks, is a sure way to lose out on securing them as a quality lead.

While it can be a bit of a tough market out there for finding and securing quality leads, with a few small adjustments, it can be done. Taking time to review, regroup, and reorganize your university’s approach to student recruitment can make all of the difference. If it feels like a task that might be insurmountable, remember the professionals at Keystone Academic Solutions are here to help tailor a program that can help make it easy to update your recruitment efforts. 

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