how to acquire prospective students

Higher Education: How to Acquire Prospective Students

The Higher Education market is highly competitive and relatively cluttered, which makes it quite difficult to acquire new leads. Many institutions purchase lists from SAT or ACTs, but we’ve found that purchase lists don’t always have the best ROI and we actually prefer building our own lists. Here’s a quick 5 step blueprint on how to acquire prospective students.

1. Define your audience.

The most important step to a successful campaign is understanding your target audience. Data from current and past students can help you identify who the target audience is. It’s important to understand the demographic information of your audience as well as what motivates them and what they care about. Typically, students care about degree, location, and price, but what else makes them want to enroll at a university?

We strongly recommend that our higher-education clients go through some sort of persona development phase.

2. Select your platform(s).

Who is your target audience? What degree are they looking for (undergraduate or post-graduate)? What is the goal of the campaign (sign-ups, RSVP; video views)? Understanding who the audience is will help you select which platforms, locations, and websites to use. For example, Facebook can be effective at times for both undergrad and post-graduate, but LinkedIn is really only applicable for some post-graduate degrees.

3. Segment campaigns.

All audiences should not be treated the same! If you find that males and females are distinctly different create a different story and campaign for each. If females tend to be interested in MBA programs because they want to make a difference for their family, then use that in the messaging. If males tend to be interested in MBA programs that are “quick and easy,” then use that in the messaging. It’s all about understanding who the audience is and getting the right messaging in front of them.

The story should be consistent all the way through the user’s journey. This means everything from the ads to the landing page to the email. Most importantly, the follow-up email should be tailored to the new lead. Do not send a generic welcome letter about your  University. Tell them more about what they are interested in. If you don’t know, ask.

4. Optimize and Test for the best ROI

Every campaign should go through a testing phase. Always A/B test your imagery, messaging and/or landing pages, then optimize for the best performing one. Sometimes some platforms will be cost-prohibited and that’s okay. Competition and inventory may vary and therefore increase bids. It’s not always going to be a perfect formula.

In addition, don’t be scared to try new tactics and strategies. Facebook is always rolling out new features and ad options. See if there is a more effective way to acquire leads.

5. Re-marketing & Re-engage

You’ve taken all this time to acquire these leads do not let them go to waste. Use automated email series and remarketing campaigns to keep the students interested. Make sure they know about events happening on campus or new scholarships they may be interested. It’s easier to keep a student in the pipeline than to acquire a new one.

Ready? Share with us some of your successful higher education campaigns. Need help getting started? That’s why we’re here! Contact us.

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