One of the biggest mysteries for higher education professionals is how to write copy that resonates with their audience. The goal is to find a voice that matches the personality of the institution while also writing in a friendly and professional tone.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of tools available to help higher education marketers better understand how their content relates to students. The problem is that only specific metrics can be tracked, such as how many visitors the content had or the average time people spent on the page. There is no way to determine how your copy is speaking to readers.

Let’s look at a few tips to help you cut through the noise and write a deeper level of copy.

Continue to research your audience.

One of the best ways to write compelling copy is to continuously research the needs, wants and expectations of prospective students. The needs of students change all the time, and the features they look for in an institution do as well.

For example, today’s students want a straight line to entrepreneurial success. They want to know that they will be prepared to meet the demands of the workplace after putting in the physical, emotional and financial investment.

Students have voiced their opinions about having more practical, hands-on coursework that prepares them for the real world. Rather than filling up their first two years with general ed courses, why not use this time to teach essential life skills? Listening to these needs, building programs that are simpler and sharing this thought process via content is a perfect example of how you can reach prospective students.

Avoid being sneaky with your sales tactics.

Choosing a college or university is a big deal. Prospective students don’t want to be advertised to. They want to be educated, informed and enlightened. Since this age group has grown up with the internet, they are more in tune to sales gimmicks. Trying to be sneaky can damage relationships and make your school look desperate for leads.

As you create content for your audience, think about the pain points they might be struggling with and how you can offer some friendly advice. What information can you give students that will help them make a decision that is right for them, even if the right choice isn’t your school?

When people read your content, they see your name posted on the material or included in a call to action at the bottom. If they stick around and follow the links, they might stay on your website a bit longer. If you have lead forms to fill out, you might get a few quality leads. What we’re trying to say is that as long as people are interacting with your content, you’re doing your job of marketing your brand. It doesn’t have to be sneaky or sly in any way.

Write in a conversationalist tone.

Your content should sound like it’s speaking to the individual reader. To be successful with this, you have to carefully define your target persona. Are they a high school junior or senior looking to leave home for the first time? Or are they an older adult returning to college with a full-time career and kids? You need to write to these audiences in separate tones because different things matter to them.

If you’re not sure where to start, speak with your admissions counselors to get a better idea of the types of students that apply at your school. Do they apply for financial aid? What programs is your school known for? What types of internships or work opportunities are available?

As you get to know your target audience better, you can put together friendly, conversationalist articles and blog posts that guide students down the right path. What you want to avoid is preaching about your accomplishments, delivering information in a monotone voice or rewriting generic information that can be found anywhere.

Utilize storytelling.

One final piece of advice when creating compelling content is to tell a story. If readers are not connecting with your message, there’s a disconnect somewhere. Take a new approach by telling a story that will evoke emotion and make readers feel something toward your school.

You can tell any type of story that you want, but remember to keep it relatable to your audience. For example, applying for an MBA is an anxiety-filled experience. Create a short video featuring several students being anxious but eventually going through with the application, getting accepted into the program and then completing it with confidence.

When telling stories, it’s best to use real students from your school. This demonstrates that you care about your students and are invested in their future. It also makes your content genuine and authentic.


Dare to be different. Don’t just push out the same content that other schools are. As long as your content reflects your brand’s values and mission, be willing to push the boundaries. Content that is memorable will leave an impact on students and make them more willing to apply when the time comes.