20 03, 2018

SEO for Higher Ed: 3 Steps to Increase Enrollment

By | 2018-03-20T09:36:17+00:00 March 20th, 2018|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , |

Of all the ways to market to prospective students, the most cost efficient may be SEO. Optimizing for organic search doesn’t require the monthly cash outlay that PPC does (although you want to be doing that, too). And improving your ranking in search engines can improve brand recognition and produce actual recruiting leads.

If you focus on these three elements of SEO, you can increase enrollment and your website search rankings. It all starts with effectively targeting keywords that pay.

Step One: Organic Search Optimization

Perform a complete review of your title tags and meta descriptions to make sure you’re taking full advantage of target keywords. Google has recently increased the size of their search descriptions, meaning that you should do the same. Meta descriptions can be as long as 300 words so review yours to make sure you’ve taken advantage of this additional real estate.

Review your H1 and H2 headlines to make sure they’re keyword rich as well. Keywords should also be present within the body of your content. Finally, make sure your content links to other relevant pages within your site.

Step Two: Optimize forms and applications

Short attention spans require short forms. This is not an indictment of this generation of student. It’s simply an acknowledgement that we absorb information in smaller bites these days. Ask as little as you can to get the prospect to hit the submit button.

Consider a multi-step form process. Research indicates that when prospects are confronted by two short forms, they often feel less encumbered by the number of questions. Split test to tweak your message and maximize response. Form optimization is perhaps the most direct way you can influence conversions.

Step Three: Content Marketing – blog posts and social media

Creating meaningful content can be labor intensive. However, compelling content is perhaps the most sure-fire way of engaging the target audience and getting results – and not just soft stats.  We’re talking applications, here. Good content will give you a boost in the short and long term, so long as it is a consistent, ongoing exercise. Stop creating new content and you’ll fade into obscurity.

Whether this new content consists of testimonials, interviews with alumni or a campus survival guide from current students, make it timely and authentic, not salesy. This type of content is highly shareable. Develop a sound social media content strategy to maximize the visibility of this new content. It’s your chance to engage potential students who may have questions. Get back to them in real time. Be responsive.

Speaking of Responsive….

I’m assuming that by now your college or university website is responsive, enabling potential students to access your information on any device. If not, this supersedes everything above.

Still have questions?

Email me or speak with a member of our SEO team at 336-447-3379. Let’s discuss your website and enrollment goals. Together, let’s figure out how your website can help your recruiting efforts and meet your expectations.

 

13 03, 2018

Remarketing & Enrollment: Why it Works for Colleges & Universities

By | 2018-03-15T15:01:43+00:00 March 13th, 2018|Categories: Higher Education, PPC|Tags: , , , |

If you’re reading this article, you probably have at least a basic understanding of how remarketing works. For those who do not, remarketing ads identify those with a predisposition towards your product and nudge them to buy (or take some action).

Here’s the scenario: A user visits the admissions page for AGU (Amazingly Great University). Since AGU runs a remarketing campaign through Google, a cookie is placed that identifies the user after he or she leaves said website. The ad may be an enticement to request a course catalog, arrange for a campus visit or any number of desirable actions. As they visit other websites, your remarketing ads remind them of their initial interest and what they found compelling about your school.

Conversion rates tend to be greater with remarketing ads as the subject or target has already shown a familiarity with your school or interest in your product (an education). And the numbers say that the reminder, the subtle nudge often does the trick. Ultimately, they come back for more.

What makes Remarketing more effective for Higher Ed?

In the world of Higher Ed, the sales funnel is a protracted one. Leads must be nurtured over time as the selection of a college or university is a decision of great magnitude and has so many moving parts. It’s not something we typically do impetuously.

Remarketing campaigns appeal to a more deliberate decision making process. They can tactfully remind the potential student of the things they may have found attractive about your school or even entice a prospect to look elsewhere if your ad strategy is faulty.

Segmentation & Remarketing Strategy for Higher Ed

Segmenting your audience is the first step on the way to developing a sound remarketing strategy. Since Google enables you to target viewers based on a number of behaviors (users who visited your site or just a specific page, took a particular action, etc.), you can develop a tiered strategy based on these audiences. For example, your remarketing pitch may have a different message for those who visit your tuition and costs page as opposed to those who spend time perusing the course catalog for your school of business. Intent based segmentation can yield great results.

You’ll likely want to target your prospects by geography, too. Campus visits are easier to get if the prospect is within a reasonable travel radius, for example. Facebook offers remarketing that enables geographical targeting, too. So Facebook remarketing becomes an option for this group.

For all groups, set frequency limits for your remarketing ads. Hit them too hard and you may alienate them.

Test Your Ad Copy

Use A/B testing to determine your most effective ad copy. Try using different copy, CTA’s, and ad placements. Even after settling on a successful campaign method and copy, change the design from time to time as ads can become stale or fade into the background after a while.

What You Need to Know About Higher Ed Remarketing

Still got questions? Beacon is one of the premier digital marketing firms for Higher Ed and we’d love the opportunity to show you why. Feel free to contact me directly or give the DMS team at Beacon a call to discuss your institution and enrollment. I’d love to talk strategy with you and suggest a course of action tailored to your specific student audience(s).

 

13 02, 2018

The New Search Console: What You Need to Know

By | 2018-02-12T08:33:43+00:00 February 13th, 2018|Categories: SEO|Tags: , |

Google has released a beta version of a new Search Console experience to a limited number of users. Keeping up to date with new features is imperative for those who wish to adequately monitor indexing status and optimize the visibility of their websites.

The OLD Search Console

Google Search Console offers invaluable insight into how people are finding their websites. Search Console allows webmasters the opportunity to monitor and resolve technical website issues.

On average, Google changes its algorithm at least once a day. Granted, most of these updates are small and are geared towards weeding out spam and low quality content. However, recent updates have been more geared towards, featured snippets, job listings, chrome HTTPS warnings and more.

Due to the frequency of industry updates, Search Console needed a significant overhaul.

Get to Know the NEW Search Console

A short time ago, Google started a gradual roll out of the new version of Search Console. Scratch that. It isn’t just a new version. Search Console has been completely rebuilt from the ground up. This time ‘round, the report is purposefully focused on making it easier for users to identify and fix possible issues.

The most significant differences include Search Performance, Index Coverage, AMP Status, and (for those who post job listings on their site) a Job Posting report. Let’s briefly discuss each and the ways in which they can directly impact you and your website.

The New Search Console’s Index Coverage

The Index Coverage Report provides detailed information on who well Google is indexing the pages on your site.  Page status is reported in any of these four categories; “valid”, “error”, “warning”, and “informational/excluded”.  Here’s the best part. Google has done their best to present errors in a transparent way. Simply click on any URL listed with an error and you’ll be given links to the appropriate diagnostic tools to remedy the issue. And, the user can download or export the information should it require a deeper look.

Search Performance Report Gives You More

Similar to the previous Search Analytics report, the Search Performance report in the new Search Console shows you how often your site appears in search. But, now you get 16 months of data. Get info on clicks, click through rate, and average position.

New AMP Status report in Google Console

This too, is a report designed to help the webmaster identify and fix issues that relate to AMP pages. This report not only identifies URLs with issues, it’s a one-stop repair shop. It tells the user what’s wrong and lets you fix it.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE! You can test it, too. One can only assume that Google will be placing more and more weight behind AMP pages. They’re actively encouraging website owners to address AMP issues by making it extremely easy to do so.

More Emphasis on Job Postings

In the summer of 2017, Google launched Google for Jobs as well as new mark-up specifically for job postings. It’s fair to say that they see gold in them there hills. The emphasis on job postings continues with the Job Postings report. Not only can one check to verify that job postings are indexed correctly, but data is available on your job listing results, too.

In Conclusion

Google has continued to work towards their goal of producing the best user experience – period. Thanks to Google’s updates to Search Console, webmasters can stay on top of these changes to align their online strategy with Google’s core values.

 

15 01, 2018

Mobile-First Indexing & the Rear View Mirror

By | 2018-01-18T12:26:17+00:00 January 15th, 2018|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , |

Google is all about improving the user experience.  Lately, that means adapting to the changing methods through which users consume online information. In other words, Google will be moving towards mobile-first indexing.

What does it mean for your online business? What do you need to do – if anything – to ensure that you’re out in front of this change? So that you don’t get caught in the competition’s rear view mirror, let’s discuss what’s meant by the term “mobile-first indexing” and the ways in which we can address it head on.

What is mobile-first indexing, exactly?

Up until now, Google had indexed pages with a nod toward desktop first. Going forward, your rankings will be based upon the mobile version of your site first and foremost. Don’t confuse this with a mobile-only index. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll still rank. However, your rankings may be adversely affected by the change. Conversely, those who present a rich, improved mobile experience, will likely see better rankings for mobile as well as desktop versions of their website.

 How quickly will mobile-first indexing be implemented?

We’re told that Google will roll this change out very slowly. This stands to reason as no one wants to see a seismic shift of any kind in the online business landscape. And, if your customers’ mobile experience is similar to that of desktop (for example, you’re already responsive), you probably won’t have to do much  to ensure that you’re ready for the change.

However, things can move faster than originally anticipated. And, with every change comes opportunity. Even if you’ve got a responsive site and you’re ranking well for primary keywords, this is a great time to check the elements that will affect your rankings once Google shifts its focus more towards mobile.

If you’ve been maintaining two sites, one for mobile and one for desktop, you may wish to consider a website redesign – a move to a single, responsive website. If this is beyond your budgetary capabilities, all is not lost. Step one is to make sure that content is consistent on both desktop and mobile versions of the site. Verify that the mobile version is crawl-able and includes the required alt tags for images. Some of the more significant things you’ll want to check include:

  • XML sitemap.: Make sure sitemaps and robots.txt files have accessible links.
  • Structured data markup on mobile and desktop.: Make sure they’re the same.
  • Metadata: Check to see that both versions are roughly the same. They don’t have to be identical, however they shouldn’t deviate in meaning.

These are just a few of the items you’ll want to address. Your best bet is to contact your digital marketing people and let them know of your concerns. They’ll know what to do. If they’re unsure, call us. We can help.

It is believed that Google will roll out this new mobile-first indexing over a period of years, not weeks or months. No need to be alarmed. However, now is the time to plan for mobile-first indexing. After all, objects may be closer than they appear.

 

15 11, 2017

These Digital Marketing Tips Can Jump-Start your School’s Enrollment

By | 2017-11-08T13:43:37+00:00 November 15th, 2017|Categories: Digital Marketing, Higher Education|Tags: , , , |

In a recent survey, 51% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 said they could not imagine living without a smartphone. In a separate survey, 78% or high school students said that websites influence their perception of a school. This accentuates the changing landscape and hints toward the future of marketing in the Higher Ed space.

With an increasingly competitive environment, schools are becoming more and more creative when attempting to lure prospective students. We not only need to use our digital marketing budgets carefully, we need to use them creatively, too.

I’d like to share with you just a few ways in which colleges are leveraging digital marketing and social media to successfully jump-start their school’s enrollment.

3 Proven Ways to Boost Enrollment

Social Media can be a great tool for brand awareness and enhancement. That’s just the half of it. Social media can improve retention throughout the admissions funnel as well as to curb “summer melt” (accepted students who never enroll).

Through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, prospective students can stay on top of the application process. You can inform them of important deadlines and answer application questions. Since the vast majority of students use these platforms on a daily basis, social media can make a real difference in improving student yield.

Blogs are a great way to get the word out on deadlines, too. More than that, it’s a place to share information with all your target audiences including faculty, alumni, athletic boosters and the surrounding community. The reason a blog is desirable in addition to social media is that your content lives here. It is indexed by Google and matures, improving your position in organic search rankings.

It’s important to be constantly adding new content. Make use of this content on your social media channels as well so as to get the most from any new content you create.

The National Student Clearinghouse. This one is more of an overall tip but has digital marketing implications. Purdue University’s Office of Enrollment Management took a closer look at students who chose to attend elsewhere. Through information made available at the National Student Clearinghouse, the enrollment management team was able to identify where these students eventually enrolled. This enabled them to better understand who their competitors are.

Some students are predisposed to attend college in state. There are various reasons for this. However, by examining the behavior of students who have the means to attend anywhere, a school can hone in on its primary competition.

Break down your data, perhaps by state or region. What patterns emerge? The good folks at Purdue were able to determine that students on the East coast were more likely to attend out of state institutions. This was just one of many insights gained through PU’s research.

It’s Our Niche

Beacon has been recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design and digital marketing firms in the country. If you’d like the kind of insight into student behavior that 20 years of Higher Ed website design provides, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

 

 

26 10, 2017

Effectively Market Your School with Social Media

By | 2017-10-23T09:46:56+00:00 October 26th, 2017|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , |

There are prospective students in virtually every age group. Each has unique needs and wants. This should be reflected in your social media content strategy and PPC advertising. Your message needs to be specific to be effective.

For the sake of discussion, we’ll break this down into three main groups or demographics. There are those under the age of 18, often referred to as Generation Z. For obvious reasons, this group is very likely your main audience. In the middle, we have millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 32. Finally, we have Generation X, the parents of Gen Z.

Marketing Your School to the Gen Z Student

For most of us, our success will be significantly impacted by how effectively we appeal to this group. Gen Z students are the next crop of up and coming undergraduates. Digital ads are second nature to them. They respond quickly but their attention spans are short, so don’t make them jump through too many hoops or they won’t engage.

Credibility is everything with this group. Twitter and Instagram are very effective marketing tools, particularly when the message comes from a contemporary.

Millennials Are Looking for More

When millennials look to further their schooling, they may be working and attending classes at the same time. They have more debt than their parents and don’t make as much, so cost is a pain point. Flexibility is important. As a result, they are more receptive to night classes or online education.

Facebook is HUGE with this group. In fact, over 30% of Facebook users are millennials. In your Facebook ads, stress flexible class schedules and learn at your own pace models, if you have them.

Targeting Parents with Social Media

Some Gen X’ers will look to attend classes for upward mobility or self-improvement. However, most of this group have significance for a far different reason. They’re footing the bill for the aforementioned Gen Z’s. With the significant cost of tuition, they look at their children’s schooling as an investment.

Just as with millennials, their main concern is value (albeit for a slightly different reason). Again, Facebook becomes a valuable tool for marketing to this group. Stress value in your Facebook ads and online marketing.

Targeting Alumni

Since this last group also include alumni, discussion of social media marketing is incomplete without mentioning its application to fundraising. Facebook can effectively supplement direct mail and phone solicitation efforts.

Beacon’s Social Media Experts

Got questions about your digital marketing strategy? At Beacon, our social media experts focus on the Higher Ed space.  Our age diverse team mirrors that of your audiences, giving us a unique insight into what makes them tick. Contact me directly or give a Beacon team member a call at 1.855.851.0109. Or if you prefer, leave a comment and share your thoughts below.

10 10, 2017

Setting Conversion Goals for your College or University Website

By | 2017-10-12T08:24:19+00:00 October 10th, 2017|Categories: Digital Marketing, Higher Education|Tags: , , |

More than likely, you’ve installed the required Google Analytics tracking code on your website. You already peruse the monthly totals for visits, session duration and bounce rate. You have an idea what pages are most popular with visitors. However, unless you’ve set up the right conversion goals, you don’t really know which pages lead to a request for more information or even more importantly, an application.

Once you begin tracking this information, you can start asking a whole host of important questions such as:

  • What content is most likely to lead to a conversion?
  • Do mobile visitors convert at a better rate than desktop?
  • How can I get more conversion?

Setting Large and Small Conversion Goals

Your goals will depend upon the type of landing page it applies to. For example, for an admissions page it would likely be an application submission. By contrast, a request for a course catalog may be more appropriate for a program page.

Set both large and small goals, not unlike the way a football coach sets team goals for first downs as well as total points. After all, little successes often lead to bigger ones. This is particularly applicable for Higher Ed as the application process has so many touch points and each suggests an increased level of commitment.

A video view or email inquiry regarding a sporting event may be considered a small goal. A PDF download or request for a catalog suggests greater interest and may lie somewhere in the middle. An application submission is a more significant goal, obviously. Knowing what drives the earlier goals may very well provide you with the needed strategy to lead visitors to an application submission.

At a minimum, consider setting up conversion goals for:

  • Video Views
  • From Submissions
  • Virtual Tour Views
  • Requests for Campus Tours
  • Emails to Admissions Office and Faculty
  • PDF Downloads
  • Applications
  • Class Registrations

Higher Ed: PPC and Conversion Goals

If you spend a dime on PPC and don’t have the proper conversion goals in place, then you must have a money tree outside your office.

It goes without saying that 99% of those who visit your website don’t complete an application. However, many have converted on a lesser level. You’ve invested a significant portion of your marketing dollars in PPC. The information you gain from the smaller conversion can help you direct these same people through the conversion funnel and eventually, to an application. Why would you ever let these leads evaporate into thin air?

How ‘Bout Remarketing?

The enrollment funnel is longer than that of normal sales funnels. This gives students ample opportunity to leave for a variety of reasons. Remarketing keeps your ads in the front row and your school in the consciousness of the prospect.

Here’s how it works. The student’s initial visit generates a cookie which triggers your ad after they’ve left your site. Your ad may appear once again when they visit similar or competing websites. Conversion rates are generally much higher for these types of ads as the prospect has already expressed some kind of interest in your school.

The Bottom Line

At Beacon, we’ve been helping marketing professionals in Higher Ed effectively grow their digital presence for more than 20 years. If you have any questions regarding your school’s Google Analytics conversion goal set up, I encourage you to email me or call a Beacon team member at 1.855.851.0109. We’ll help clarify the admissions funnel and get you on the road to increased enrollment in no time.

13 09, 2017

Improve Your Site Search with These SEO Principles

By | 2017-09-01T09:55:13+00:00 September 13th, 2017|Categories: SEO|Tags: , |

While just about every e-commerce website I’ve worked with optimizes for Google search, it amazes me how many underestimate the value of effective internal site search. If you’re not dedicating some effort to improving your internal search, you’re losing business.

Conversions aren’t the only thing impacted by a properly optimized site search (although it certainly is the most important). Internal site search can provide clues that have implications across the board and help you effectively manage your bricks-and-mortar business, too.

Here’s a short list of SEO principles that, if employed, will help you get the most from your internal site search (and boost conversions!):

Set up site search tracking in Google Analytics. It’s simple and you can do this right inside your current Google Analytics account.

Step One: You need to determine the query parameter your site search is using. Simply perform a search, any search, on your site. Look at the URl of the results page and identify the designation immediately following the question mark. For the example below, I went to a popular outdoor clothing and equipment site and did so.

As you can see, it’s a “q” in this case.

search-query-parameters

Step Two: Go into your Google Analytics account and click Admin, View Settings and scroll to Site Search Settings.

google analytics search query parameters

Step Three: Under the heading Site Search Tracking, simply click the slider to the “on” position. Look for the heading Query parameter and add the character that designates a search in your URl. In this example, it was “q”. Click the Strip query parameters out of URl button and save.

This will enable you to view the terms visitors searched on your site within Google Analytics.

Add often searched query terms to your keyword research. Once you know what people are searching while on your website, you’ll not only gain insight into ways to optimize your search terms for products and/or categories but you’ll get great ideas for new products.

NoIndex your search result pages. If someone performs a generic Google search hoping for a quick answer and lands on your internal search page instead, it may not result in a good experience. Google thinks it is less likely to. That being the case, it makes sense to block them.

Never display “No Results Found”. It serves no useful purpose to you or the user. If the item they’re searching for is out of stock, consider displaying related products. If the term is completely unrelated to any of your products, serve up a list of your best selling items with a blurb that reads “We couldn’t find the item you’re looking for. Perhaps you’re interested in one of the best sellers below.”

Don’t pass up a chance to ask for a sale. Proper use and optimization of your internal site search has been done to dramatically improve, even double in some cases, conversions. A designated Google Analytics Partner since 1998, the digital marketing team at Beacon has a wealth of knowledge regarding internal site search and ways in which it can be leveraged to improve your bottom line. Questions? Email me or call a Beacon team member at 1.866.585.6350. We’re ready to discuss ways in which we can help y make your online business more profitable than ever before.

6 09, 2017

PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

By | 2017-09-01T09:28:27+00:00 September 6th, 2017|Categories: Higher Education, PPC|Tags: , , , |

While one may or may not think of a college or university as a business, there is no arguing that those involved in student enrollment mean business. The playing field is more competitive every day. This is evidenced by the fact that more and more schools use PPC (pay per click) advertising as part of their appeal.

Since many more in your target audience communicate through digital channels than in the days when you and I went to school, it goes without saying that it doesn’t pay to stick with just traditional means of promotion. Besides, at the rate that the enrollment landscape is changing, PPC almost qualifies as traditional.

PPC Strategies for Higher Ed

Unlike large, profit generating entities, most colleges have limited budgets to work with. This means that while one may encourage ones students to experiment, to “find themselves”, you don’t want your marketing people to have to do so, too.

Make sure you have a clearly defined strategy going in. Higher Ed keywords are generally very expensive (again, the Higher Ed space is VERY competitive), so it’s essential that you use your marketing dollars efficiently. That having been said…

Branded Campaigns Don’t Work for Higher Ed

Many businesses use branded campaigns to make sure their competitors don’t pick off shoppers who are looking to pilfer their customers. However, your audience differs from most. With a college website, many students, alumni and faculty use the website as a constant resource.

Since you’re already at the top for a branded search, you don’t want to waste your money paying for those who choose to access your site through a PPC add. That’s a sure way to burn through your ad budget and see minimal return.

Higher Ed Remarketing Ads Do, Though

The enrollment funnel for Higher Ed is protracted when compared to other competitive spaces. That being the case, a conversion rarely happens as part of an early touch. This is true across the board, unless your brand is so big that you don’t need to advertise. That’s a very exclusive club.

Remarketing ads follow visitors from their initial visit to your site (or mobile App). As they visit other competing sites, your ad will pop up, keeping your school fresh in their mind. It’s a great way to maintain a familiarity and nurture the process. These remarketing ads can include periodic offerings such as a limited time discount on an application fee in exchange for contact information.

Get even more granular by using Google’s RLSA’s. You can target users based on their behavior, which page on your site they visited and how long they stayed. So, if they visited the page for your dental school, they’ll receive remarketing ads specific to that discipline.

Higher Ed PPC & Mobile

Make sure the landing pages for your PPC ads are responsive. Recent surveys indicate that roughly 80% of high school seniors and their parents view college websites on their phones. If your site is mobile friendly, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Google’s new Expanded Text.

You’ve spent the money to get your visitors to your website. Don’t blow the experience now.

And that’s Just the Beginning

Want to know more about how you can pull more candidates into your school’s enrollment funnel? Beacon is recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country. We’ve been helping colleges and universities with PPC marketing for over 20 years. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

21 08, 2017

Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

By | 2017-08-21T11:10:17+00:00 August 21st, 2017|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , |

An institution’s mission is to educate students. By extension, its relevance is dependent upon the quality and quantity of enrolled students. Without students, you cease to exist.

If you’re charged with marketing your college or university, you carry a position of great responsibility. You’ve been asked to be a caretaker of sorts. Your mission is to steward your school into a position of added prestige and reputation. You can affect both enrollment and endowment.

Education is a business. Without treating it as such, one risks becoming a footnote in the annals of Higher Ed history. Understanding the admissions funnel is step one in ensuring you’re remembered as having been a worthy steward for your school.

Understanding the Higher Ed Admissions Funnel

While the admissions funnel shares certain similarities to a typical sales funnel, there are distinct differences. Understanding those differences can be key to your success.

The admissions funnel is deeper and more involved than the normal sales funnel. More levels require a longer time duration and greater deliberation. It could be a year or two from the moment your candidate enters the admissions funnel until they eventually enroll. A protracted process means more opportunity to abandon the process.

The better you understand the admissions funnel, the easier it is to use it to your advantage.

The Opening: Attracting Prospective Students

When marketing to the prospective student, content and the delivery of said content is of paramount importance. Methods include the more traditional (education fairs and school visits) as well as digital advertising (PPC, Social Media, etc.). And one cannot emphasize enough the importance of sound SEO practices for Higher Ed.

Prospective students break down into two sub-sets, those who already have a familiarity with your institution as well as those who may not have previously known who you are. The approach is similar for targeting both.

Use videos, photos and interesting copy. Prospective students respect and trust content provided by their peers. Emphasize content provided by your current students. Your goal is to get a prospective student to request more information. That’s the next step in the sales funnel.

The Inquiry

When we discuss those who inquire into additional information, the numbers drop precipitously. But that’s OK. The good news is, the remaining prospects represent significant opportunity. They’re still considering a few schools and their pain point tends to be simple. Generally, they want to know at which school they best fit in.

Appeal to this group through both traditional means (personal calls from students, events and printed materials) as well as through social media and PPC campaigns.

PPC remarketing campaigns can be a great way to keep your brand in the minds of prospective students. In short, remarketing ads are the google ads that follow you after you visit a website. It targets those who have expressed some level of interest already.

The objective here is to steer the student into the application process.

Getting the Application

Anyone who starts the application process is already highly engaged. At this juncture, the personal touch can be most effective. Events are great. There is nothing more effective than a face to face meeting.

It’s also a good time for email marketing campaigns. Emphasize personalized emails from admissions counselors or administrators.

Some will recommend personalized phone calls. Personal experience tells me otherwise.  When my children were looking for a school to attend, they never answered the phone. Texting is the preferred method of communication for this generation. They avoid the phone like the plague.

Attention & Intention Mean Retention

The final group you need to appeal to are those who have been accepted and/or have confirmed their intention to attend. This group may include individuals who have been accepted at several schools. They may be still deciding or waiting to find out which school will provide the most financial aid.

While not all will eventually enroll, this is the time to welcome them into the “family”. The more personal your communication, the better. If this student interacts with other accepted students through social media, odds of retention increase considerably.

Consider sending branded items such as tee shirts or coffee mugs.

Avoiding Summer Melt

While it may seem unethical, some students will place deposits down with more than one institution. Others will lose interest while awaiting financial aid. Some will simply be overwhelmed with the process of finishing paperwork and buying books.

In fact, a recent study suggests that between 10% and 40% of students will “melt away” between the time of their acceptance and the first day of classes.

Engagement from here must be genuine and personal. Consider holding webinars with instructors who can help individuals get to the finish line. Administrators can send personalized emails offering assistance and answering frequent questions. Bottom line: Keep it as personal as possible.

How Beacon Can Help

Recently recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country, Beacon has been helping colleges and universities with admissions marketing for more than 20 years. Together we can develop and implement a digital marketing plan to address your specific objectives. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

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