Is increasing student enrollment at your school your number #1 priority? If the answer is yes, you’re in the right place. In this post, you’ll learn the strategies to get your student enrollment numbers up through smart marketing, testimonials, and a streamlined application process.
Here’s the thing…
… there are 4,000+ colleges in the US…
… 2,750 universities in the European Union…
… and heaven knows how many higher education institutions are in the world.
And guess what?
You’re competing with all of them.
That’s right… students are willing to relocate to get into a school that they feel will provide them with the best possible opportunities. And their parents are willing to do the same.
There’s an upside to this — the world is your oyster. You can target your ideal students from all over the country, casting your enrollment marketing net wide.
This also means that the competition is tough in the higher education space. The sad fact is that most schools are not hitting their enrollment rates at all these days. If your institution is struggling with this, you’ll need to put some back into your marketing efforts and step up your game.
Let’s dig into them, one by one.
Make Content the Cornerstone of Your Marketing
Your typical high school student doesn’t watch a lot of TVs. And they don’t listen to the radio unless they’re in the passenger seat of their grandpa’s car.
But… you’re still blowing your budget on radio ads and TV spots.
Do you know where that money would be better spent?
Two words — content marketing.
Content marketing falls in the category of inbound marketing. In a nutshell, instead of going after potential students, you’re letting them come to you by serving the best content in your chosen categories.
And those are just a couple of things you’ll be getting when you focus on content.
To explore how you can easily turn your current misguided marketing into content-based marketing (and make sure that you’re spending your budget in all the right places), take a look at the HubSpot Academy. Most of their intro courses on digital marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing are completely free — and you’ll get to learn from marketing pros who’ve been at this for years.
Use Storytelling to Stand Out
I did tell you we’ll touch on storytelling separately because it’s such an effective tool for increasing student enrollment into your educational institutions, so let’s dig right into it.
Humans are story-hungry creatures.
As kids, we got to bed begging to be ‘told a story’ before it’s time to go to sleep.
As adults, we sit through countless hours of annoying commercials just so that we can find out what happens next on our favorite TV show.
We do all this because stories help us make sense of the world.
Stories elicit emotions. And emotions make marketing messages more powerful.
So the next time you’re constructing digital marketing strategies, an ad, or a photoshoot for your website or newsletter imagery, make sure that you connect to your potential students by telling a story that’s uniquely yours.
Here’s how the College of Creative Studies did that a few years ago:
‘Wait, art can subversively parody anti-drug ad campaigns and get away with it? Who knew…’
That’s a story. There are characters there. There’s conflict. And it’s both provocative and hilarious at the same time. Ultimately, it’s what’s going to stick in a student’s mind once the chips are down and they have to make their choice.
Make your marketing ooze with relatable stories. That’s how you win.
Know Who Your Ideal Students Are
So, I’ve talked about content and I’ve talked about storytelling.
You can’t do either of those two rights if you don’t know who you are addressing. To attract more students to your school, you need to get down to the nitty-gritty of things and understand what types of students thrive in that environment.
And then create a plan to attract more of those students.
In marketing, this is called an avatar of your ideal customer, but we can replace ‘customer’ with ‘student’ here and we’d get the same thing — a tool that helps your enrollment marketing strategy so it has the greatest possible impact.
Here’s a really good example of a student persona:
When you have this, you can get specific with your messages. You can focus your marketing attention on those places where your ideal student hangs out. And you get to them faster, increasing your student enrollment rates before the end of August (which is generally when you fly into panic mode trying to fill all those available spots).
So know who your ideal students are. Consistently reach out. Bag ‘em early.
Leverage the Power of Online Reviews & Testimonials
Did you know that 93% of people read online reviews before buying a product?
And that most of us are turned off from something when we read a negative review?
Now…I’m not saying that investing in your education is the same as buying a pair of shoes… but you can bet your prospective students and their parents will take a peek at your online reviews sometime during their decision-making process. And you don’t want them to find an unchallenged review like his one there:
Homophobia. Administrative issues. Low value for money. The trifecta of bad reviews.
Here’s the thing — even though you can’t change most of those bad reviews, there’s still a way to deal with them. You can reach out and try to sort out the issue. Or… you can flip the script by flooding the review sites with positive student experiences.
“Reviews are digital currency — and you can ask for them!”
Simply draft a polite email that you’ll send to your top graduates (and their parents), and ask them to share their experience of your school online. Make things easier by including links to top review sites, such as Niche, GreatSchools, and PrivateSchoolReview. There’s no guarantee that all the reviews will be stellar but, if you target these emails just right, the great reviews should outweigh the bad review ten to one.
Quick note: With permission, you can repurpose those really good reviews into testimonials to use on your brochures, website, and emails. These will act as social proof — showing potential students that other people (who are just like them) enjoyed their time at your school.
Make Your Enrollment Process As Easy As Pie
How many hoops are you willing to jump through to get something you’re not all that interested in?
Here’s one cold, hard truth — if you’re not Yale or Harvard, students are not going to be breaking their backs trying to get in.
That’s why, if you want to increase your enrollment rates, you need to make that application process as simple as possible.
Right now, most schools work with an enrollment process that’s been cobbled together with Google Sheets, email chains, and a piece of string. Prospective students apply either in person or through a complicated system that not even your administrators can figure out. And then they get constant phone calls or emails letting them know that they didn’t submit one vital document. And then another one. And another one the next day.
This is unnecessary friction that’s causing qualified students to give your school a hard pass.
Ready to Simplify Your Student Enrollment Process?
Create easy-to-follow workflows that will boost your enrollment rates,
& help you stay on top of documentation & make your school a front-runner.