Student-Centered Higher Education Marketing8 min read

With the rising cost of education, the heavy burden of student loans, and the inability of many new graduates to enter their field of study upon graduation, today’s prospective college students wonder if higher education offers the same value and opportunity that it used to. As a result, Higher Education Marketing, too, faces new challenges. [infographic]
College students walking on campus.

Student-Centered Higher Education Marketing8 min read

With the rising cost of education, the heavy burden of student loans, and the inability of many new graduates to enter their field of study upon graduation, today’s prospective college students wonder if higher education offers the same value and opportunity that it used to. As a result, Higher Education Marketing, too, faces new challenges. [infographic]
College students walking on campus.

Student-Centered Higher Education Marketing8 min read

With the rising cost of education, the heavy burden of student loans, and the inability of many new graduates to enter their field of study upon graduation, today’s prospective college students wonder if higher education offers the same value and opportunity that it used to. As a result, Higher Education Marketing, too, faces new challenges. [infographic]
College students walking on campus.

Student-Centered Higher Education Marketing8 min read

With the rising cost of education, the heavy burden of student loans, and the inability of many new graduates to enter their field of study upon graduation, today’s prospective college students wonder if higher education offers the same value and opportunity that it used to. As a result, Higher Education Marketing, too, faces new challenges. [infographic]
College students walking on campus.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Student-Centered Marketing engages your prospective students

With the rising cost of education, the heavy burden of student loans, and the inability of many new graduates to enter their field of study upon graduation, today’s prospective college students wonder if higher education offers the same value and opportunity that it used to. As a result, Higher Education Marketing, too, faces new challenges.

Higher Education Marketing is facing a need to move away from a “this is why we’re great” marketing message and instead focus on “this is why we’re great for YOU.”

Why Is Traditional Higher Education Marketing No Longer Working?

According to a report released by Salesforce.org, the spring of 2020 showed a 3.5 percent drop in overall enrollment in higher education programs. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic may be largely to blame, but it’s also a function of outdated marketing strategies. In the face of a global crisis, students were unaware of how potential schools could fit them and their needs.

In addition to the decline in enrollment, the same report stated that 19 percent fewer adults felt a college education was worth the time and expense. A whopping 33 percent fewer college-age young adults saw great value in higher education. Considering the average college graduate walks away with over $35,000 in student debt, it’s easy to see how people are becoming discouraged over pursuing a degree.

So, what can higher ed institutions do to renew interest and trust in their organizations?

Student-centered marketing efforts are the best way to reach prospective students, connect with them on a personal level, and encourage them to consider higher education. However, before developing a particular strategy, it’s essential to understand what modern students are looking for.

What are Modern Students Looking For?

Today’s social and economic environment has made us all more creative in how we work, how we go to school, and how we live our lives — and it’s impacted the way today’s students think about their futures. Modern students are becoming warier about investing in something that may leave them in a poor professional and financial situation. Today’s higher education students want flexibility, connection, culture, and value.

Flexibility

Many students need to work while going to school, calling for flexible class schedules. Not only do they need to be able to work around jobs, many prefer to complete coursework and studies on their own time. Most would rather not adhere to a traditional in-person schedule and educational format.

Finally, a growing number of higher education institutions are seeing non-traditional students pursue degrees. These may be parents, seniors, or service members – non-traditional students wanting to pursue education at an institution that works with their life and schedule, not against it.

Connection

Teenagers and young adults these days get almost all their information online. They connect with whoever they feel drawn to through social media. This means they also easily reject or pass over any business or organization not immediately resonating with them. Higher education is no exception, and social media marketing is nearly essential in developing a connection and relationship with prospective students.

Value

Perhaps the most crucial detail for prospective students is feeling confident that their investment will benefit them. The student debt crisis has been a front-and-center issue. Students are aware that college doesn’t guarantee a job that can comfortably support loan repayment. Social media has also exposed the benefits of pursuing alternative education like trade school. This awareness has helped prospective students realize they have viable options besides college – creating more options for them, and more competition for universities hoping to attract new enrollees.

Steps to Achieve a Successful Student-Centered Approach

 Brand identity development

One of the most critical things institutions can do to reach the right prospects and increase enrollment is zero in on exactly “who” the institution is. Brand development is a pillar of marketing strategy, but one that has been over-generalized in higher education. Students are looking for a school that fits them. Like with any brand, they want to feel that they belong and understand what the school is about.

Generic mission statements feel outdated. Bland class descriptions are uninspiring.

And neglecting to highlight and nurture the individual qualities of staff feels oppressive by today’s standards.

From a marketing standpoint, higher education institutions need to pinpoint what makes them unique. Curating an identity for the institution will draw in students who will enroll, thrive, and contribute positively to its culture.

Honest Assessment of the Value of Higher Education

Simply offering degrees and a “college experience” is no longer enough. Students want to fully know what they are getting when they enroll in an institution. They know that a degree guarantees nothing — and are searching for value elsewhere. Understanding this — and dropping the traditional approach of talking up the value of a degree to encourage enrollment — institutions need to focus on how their students can succeed in other ways both during school and after graduation.

This may mean developing more structured professional networks related to the school, and keeping in touch with and remaining relevant to alumni through social media and content sharing. Students want to know they are gaining something that will last and continue to benefit for years to come.

Targeting Students in Their Comfort Zone

This means colleges and universities must now focus marketing efforts on strategies that work in a digital world. Brochures, pamphlets, and catalogs don’t need to disappear completely, but modern students live their lives online. The internet is where they learn, socialize, network, and relax.

They are more receptive to information and messages in digital form, but that doesn’t translate to simply moving the same material off paper and onto the internet. Marketing practices have evolved along with this digital transformation, and digital marketing that effectively reaches and relates to the target market requires a particular knowledge base and skillset.

Insights from Higher Education Marketing Leaders and How Strategies Resonate with Students Infographic Download

Higher Education Marketing strategies and data. How they respoate with students

Methods to Achieve Student-Centered Marketing Success

There are many ways to reach ideal clients, customers or prospects — and marketing professionals use various methods to do so. Agencies like ThinkPod are highly skilled at targeting prospects and developing brand identities in a variety of ways. The key strategies for a student-centered marketing approach that increases and maintains higher education enrollment include content marketing, social media marketing, and optimizing web presence.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an excellent way to share knowledge and develop trust in a brand or organization. Digital content for marketing purposes holds immense value to consumers all on its own. The right content will inform, entertain, and organically lead prospective students to choose a college or university.

Content marketing strategy is a highly specialized skill that involves producing quality content, and thoroughly understanding what your target audience is looking for. For example, a university focusing on business education may develop a series of articles about steps to starting a small business.

These articles will show up in online search results for keywords related to starting small businesses. As a result, readers will grow to trust the institution as a n expert source for small business information. Down the road, someone looking to pursue a future as a small business owner would find that institution as an obvious choice for their degree.

Social Media Marketing

Modern students spend a lot of time on social media, and many don’t realize that much of what they see is deliberate marketing. Social media strategy can make or break your presence online, from photos to captions to spokespeople. Because staying relevant requires constant content creation, social media is a great way to develop and promote brand culture and identity.

Considering 54 percent of prospective college students spend over a year researching schools before applying, using social media makes sense. Higher education institutes can build long-term relationships with their ideal students and show them that eventual enrollment is worth it.

Website Optimization

Together with a refined brand identity and social media presence, optimizing a higher ed institution’s website for prospective student searches is a critical component in a successful student-centered marketing approach. Again, the most important thing is learning and genuinely understanding what potential students want.

Students will use web searches to look for precisely what they need in a school, especially in terms of flexibility. For example, “on-campus childcare,” “biology courses open to high school students,” or “part-time evening marketing degree,” may be criteria prospective students care about.

Optimizing web pages to show up in relevant web searches and then be visually appealing and easy to navigate makes it easier for ideal students to find an institution and learn about what they offer. In addition, a student-centered SEO strategy makes it easier for them to discover exactly how a school can fulfill their needs. 

Want to learn more about creating a student-centered marketing strategy for higher education?

The marketing professionals at ThinkPod bring over two decades of experience in digital marketing to your team. ThinkPod can transform your digital marketing strategy into one that has staying power, renews interest, and increases enrollment in higher education.  Let’s talk.


Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Student-Centered Marketing engages your prospective students

With the rising cost of education, the heavy burden of student loans, and the inability of many new graduates to enter their field of study upon graduation, today’s prospective college students wonder if higher education offers the same value and opportunity that it used to. As a result, Higher Education Marketing, too, faces new challenges.

Higher Education Marketing is facing a need to move away from a “this is why we’re great” marketing message and instead focus on “this is why we’re great for YOU.”

Why Is Traditional Higher Education Marketing No Longer Working?

According to a report released by Salesforce.org, the spring of 2020 showed a 3.5 percent drop in overall enrollment in higher education programs. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic may be largely to blame, but it’s also a function of outdated marketing strategies. In the face of a global crisis, students were unaware of how potential schools could fit them and their needs.

In addition to the decline in enrollment, the same report stated that 19 percent fewer adults felt a college education was worth the time and expense. A whopping 33 percent fewer college-age young adults saw great value in higher education. Considering the average college graduate walks away with over $35,000 in student debt, it’s easy to see how people are becoming discouraged over pursuing a degree.

So, what can higher ed institutions do to renew interest and trust in their organizations?

Student-centered marketing efforts are the best way to reach prospective students, connect with them on a personal level, and encourage them to consider higher education. However, before developing a particular strategy, it’s essential to understand what modern students are looking for.

What are Modern Students Looking For?

Today’s social and economic environment has made us all more creative in how we work, how we go to school, and how we live our lives — and it’s impacted the way today’s students think about their futures. Modern students are becoming warier about investing in something that may leave them in a poor professional and financial situation. Today’s higher education students want flexibility, connection, culture, and value.

Flexibility

Many students need to work while going to school, calling for flexible class schedules. Not only do they need to be able to work around jobs, many prefer to complete coursework and studies on their own time. Most would rather not adhere to a traditional in-person schedule and educational format.

Finally, a growing number of higher education institutions are seeing non-traditional students pursue degrees. These may be parents, seniors, or service members – non-traditional students wanting to pursue education at an institution that works with their life and schedule, not against it.

Connection

Teenagers and young adults these days get almost all their information online. They connect with whoever they feel drawn to through social media. This means they also easily reject or pass over any business or organization not immediately resonating with them. Higher education is no exception, and social media marketing is nearly essential in developing a connection and relationship with prospective students.

Value

Perhaps the most crucial detail for prospective students is feeling confident that their investment will benefit them. The student debt crisis has been a front-and-center issue. Students are aware that college doesn’t guarantee a job that can comfortably support loan repayment. Social media has also exposed the benefits of pursuing alternative education like trade school. This awareness has helped prospective students realize they have viable options besides college – creating more options for them, and more competition for universities hoping to attract new enrollees.

Steps to Achieve a Successful Student-Centered Approach

 Brand identity development

One of the most critical things institutions can do to reach the right prospects and increase enrollment is zero in on exactly “who” the institution is. Brand development is a pillar of marketing strategy, but one that has been over-generalized in higher education. Students are looking for a school that fits them. Like with any brand, they want to feel that they belong and understand what the school is about.

Generic mission statements feel outdated. Bland class descriptions are uninspiring.

And neglecting to highlight and nurture the individual qualities of staff feels oppressive by today’s standards.

From a marketing standpoint, higher education institutions need to pinpoint what makes them unique. Curating an identity for the institution will draw in students who will enroll, thrive, and contribute positively to its culture.

Honest Assessment of the Value of Higher Education

Simply offering degrees and a “college experience” is no longer enough. Students want to fully know what they are getting when they enroll in an institution. They know that a degree guarantees nothing — and are searching for value elsewhere. Understanding this — and dropping the traditional approach of talking up the value of a degree to encourage enrollment — institutions need to focus on how their students can succeed in other ways both during school and after graduation.

This may mean developing more structured professional networks related to the school, and keeping in touch with and remaining relevant to alumni through social media and content sharing. Students want to know they are gaining something that will last and continue to benefit for years to come.

Targeting Students in Their Comfort Zone

This means colleges and universities must now focus marketing efforts on strategies that work in a digital world. Brochures, pamphlets, and catalogs don’t need to disappear completely, but modern students live their lives online. The internet is where they learn, socialize, network, and relax.

They are more receptive to information and messages in digital form, but that doesn’t translate to simply moving the same material off paper and onto the internet. Marketing practices have evolved along with this digital transformation, and digital marketing that effectively reaches and relates to the target market requires a particular knowledge base and skillset.

Insights from Higher Education Marketing Leaders and How Strategies Resonate with Students Infographic Download

Higher Education Marketing strategies and data. How they respoate with students

Methods to Achieve Student-Centered Marketing Success

There are many ways to reach ideal clients, customers or prospects — and marketing professionals use various methods to do so. Agencies like ThinkPod are highly skilled at targeting prospects and developing brand identities in a variety of ways. The key strategies for a student-centered marketing approach that increases and maintains higher education enrollment include content marketing, social media marketing, and optimizing web presence.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an excellent way to share knowledge and develop trust in a brand or organization. Digital content for marketing purposes holds immense value to consumers all on its own. The right content will inform, entertain, and organically lead prospective students to choose a college or university.

Content marketing strategy is a highly specialized skill that involves producing quality content, and thoroughly understanding what your target audience is looking for. For example, a university focusing on business education may develop a series of articles about steps to starting a small business.

These articles will show up in online search results for keywords related to starting small businesses. As a result, readers will grow to trust the institution as a n expert source for small business information. Down the road, someone looking to pursue a future as a small business owner would find that institution as an obvious choice for their degree.

Social Media Marketing

Modern students spend a lot of time on social media, and many don’t realize that much of what they see is deliberate marketing. Social media strategy can make or break your presence online, from photos to captions to spokespeople. Because staying relevant requires constant content creation, social media is a great way to develop and promote brand culture and identity.

Considering 54 percent of prospective college students spend over a year researching schools before applying, using social media makes sense. Higher education institutes can build long-term relationships with their ideal students and show them that eventual enrollment is worth it.

Website Optimization

Together with a refined brand identity and social media presence, optimizing a higher ed institution’s website for prospective student searches is a critical component in a successful student-centered marketing approach. Again, the most important thing is learning and genuinely understanding what potential students want.

Students will use web searches to look for precisely what they need in a school, especially in terms of flexibility. For example, “on-campus childcare,” “biology courses open to high school students,” or “part-time evening marketing degree,” may be criteria prospective students care about.

Optimizing web pages to show up in relevant web searches and then be visually appealing and easy to navigate makes it easier for ideal students to find an institution and learn about what they offer. In addition, a student-centered SEO strategy makes it easier for them to discover exactly how a school can fulfill their needs. 

Want to learn more about creating a student-centered marketing strategy for higher education?

The marketing professionals at ThinkPod bring over two decades of experience in digital marketing to your team. ThinkPod can transform your digital marketing strategy into one that has staying power, renews interest, and increases enrollment in higher education.  Let’s talk.

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