No industry stays the same, but higher education has faced tremendous change in a short amount of time. Unlike other companies that might lose business and fizzle out, America depends on higher institutions for continuing education and job preparedness. Therefore, colleges and universities have had to adjust to the changes taking place, which include pressures in demand, supply and delivery.
Decreasing College Enrollment
College enrollment rates continue to be on the decline, particularly for four-year for-profit institutions and two-year schools. Four-year universities have seen mostly stable enrollment rates, but nothing spectacular. With a decreasing pool of candidates, schools are having to fight harder to drive enrollment.
All of these changes are happening at a time when students and their parents are researching schools on the internet. Aside from the available information that is provided by institutions themselves, prospective students also use social media to learn about schools and listen to what their peers have to say.
So what does all of this mean for today’s higher institutions? A lot of things. One of them is that EDU marketing needed a transformation. Have you caught up?
Catering to the Empowered Student
Guidance counselors, college brochures. That was so last century. Today’s students don’t need to step foot in any library to research schools. In fact, they don’t even have to interact with a human to apply at a college!
Why does this matter for your institution? It means you have to be online. You have to be present. And you have to be active.
Knowing that students are taking charge when it comes to researching higher institutions, it’s imperative that your brand is proactive. You can’t wait for students to come to you. You must be front and center using channels such as social media, email marketing and native advertising.
Understanding Your Target Persona
To uphold your brand’s image without being disruptive to your audience, inbound marketing strategies are highly effective. Traditional outbound marketing tactics like cold calling and snail mail are no longer compelling forms of lead generation. To be competitive, you must utilize inbound marketing, but this type of marketing will only work if it lands in the right hands at the right time.
To ensure that your marketing messages are making it to the right people, you have to define your target audience. Be specific. Thanks to changing demographics and an access to a wide pool of candidates, your audience probably extends beyond the typical junior and high school seniors.
Discovering Where the Prospects Are
Lastly, colleges and universities have had to shift their focus when it comes to gathering leads. It’s not open houses and college fairs that draw students in. Higher institutions are more successful at gathering leads from social media and their website.
Your school’s website is your single largest resource, so most prospects will start here when they want to learn more about your programs. Having a well-designed website that meets the current trends is important since you’re attracting a younger crowd that will view the quality of your website as an indicator of the quality of your education.
Your blogs will drive a lot of traffic, too, so it’s important to update this column regularly with valuable content. All blogs should contain a call to action so that readers know what action you want them to take.
It’s apparent that EDU marketing has changed in many ways, but it had to. In order to be competitive, you need to be proactive with your marketing efforts. This means creating a positive and trustworthy image of your brand and catering to the needs of your prospects.