A quick glance online seems to indicate that there’s no limit to the marketing tools, sites and programs available to admissions teams. But to create a solid digital marketing strategy, you don’t have to exhaust your entire recruitment budget. Identifying and implementing a few strategic marketing tactics will go a lot further than scrambling for the latest technologies available.
Simply put, a higher ed digital marketing strategy is a series of online marketing tools your admissions team utilizes to meet your recruitment goals. These tools can include (but certainly aren’t limited to):
A well-planned and well-executed digital marketing strategy will help you make your class, while a poorly-executed strategy will waste valuable time and resources, delivering no real ROI.
Creating a solid digital marketing strategy isn’t difficult, but it takes a little work on the back end. Here are six tips to help you create a plan that converts more prospects, admits more qualified applicants, and enrolls a class that helps your overall graduation rates.
Hopefully you already have a solid set of student personas for whom you create all of your marketing content. Student personas are brief snapshots of the students you’re trying to recruit. These personas form the basis for all your marketing efforts - without them, it’s impossible to create effective content. If you are new to student personas, here’s a helpful guide to create your own.
What numbers are you trying to make for your fall class? Are you looking to increase quantity? Quality? In addition to basic enrollment numbers, are there other goals you’re trying to meet? Perhaps you’re looking to expand your in-state or out-of-state travel, or maybe you want to begin recruiting internationally. These goals are high-level and shouldn’t be determined alone; work with your admissions team (and higher ups, as needed) to determine what your office’s goals are for the upcoming year.
The content you’ve already created is probably great content, and there’s often no need to recreate the wheel each year. What content do you have that you can repurpose? Can your email campaigns be updated to include new course offerings, programs, or activities? How’s your website? What did your social media engagement look like last year? If you don’t already have your content catalogued in one location, such as a shared drive, now is the time to gather it all in one place. This is also a good time to audit your current vendor relationships. What was your ROI with each? Be sure to take note of any gaps in your content during this process.
Now that you’ve created your student personas, determined your goals, and reviewed what assets you have/are missing, you can identify the tools needed to help you meet your goals. Does your school need more engagement on social media? How are you engaging with international students? What populations were overlooked in your email campaigns last year? What about your website - is it optimized to encourage inbound traffic? What tools do you need to create this content, address these needs, and meet your goals? This will be very specific to your college’s needs. Research what vendors offer the best solutions to meet the needs you’ve identified, and take some time to work with your team on identifying your needed tools and assets.
Spend this next month or so creating your content, fine-tuning your website, partnering with vendors as needed, reviewing video content, and developing your social media pages and strategies. By the time your admissions counselors hit the road and the fall application opens, your digital marketing strategy will be ready to roll out. You’ve done the work, you’ve created your content - now launch it!
The best marketing efforts are nothing without analytics. One of the primary benefits of a digital marketing strategy is how trackable your efforts are. Use google analytics to monitor your site traffic. Take advantage of your CRM’s reporting tools to analyze the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Use the reporting tools provided by the vendors you partner with to create and distribute reports regularly so that your teams know a) if they’re on track or b) if some tweaks need to be made in the strategy.
Now that you know a few helpful tips to create your own digital marketing strategy, it’s time to fine-tune these practices for your own admissions team! Once you begin to implement your strategy, you’ll see your hard work pay off as you track those conversions. Whether your goals are to convert more prospects, applicants, or admits, your digital marketing strategy should work directly with the goals you identify - at all points in the recruitment process.
StudentBridge can help you meet your recruitment and enrollment goals. Contact us to learn more!