If you’re depending on traditional media to drive your marketing efforts, you need to reassess your strategy. Preferably this week.
Likewise, isolating your social media efforts or email marketing strategy can be disastrous. If you want to be a real powerhouse and increase your student applications, you need to think about how digital media platforms interact with each other – as well as users.
Who is Your Audience?
When you think about students applying to university, most of your domestic applications will come from year 12 students.
But if they’ve only just discovered your brand, you’ll have a lot of catching up to do.
In Australia, students start thinking about university as early as year 10 and 11. Although it might not be at the very front of their minds, it’s never too early to build a lasting relationship.
A student that is familiar with your university – after 3 years of authentic engagement – is more likely to place you higher on their list of course preferences.
Year 12 students who don’t know your university just don’t have time to think about applying there. If they’ve had 3 years of nurturing from their preferred institution, its unlikely they’ll feel compelled to investigate further afield.
This is a great opportunity to develop your social media – which students use constantly – to start building your relationships today.
Not only will you capture high school students with great social engagement, but you’ll get the attention of students who want to switch university as well.
What Can You Achieve with Digital Platforms?
So, you want to start building relationships. Awesome.
Traditionally the only way universities could advertise to prospective students was through school visits, TVCs and billboards.
What kind of relationship is that? You should be focussing on creating a whole community – not a transaction.
At Social Garden, we love Snapchat’s capabilities, especially as we now have exclusive access as a Bronze Certified Partner. More customisable than ever before, getting your students to do the hard work for you is key.
Developing higher education UGC strategies such as events and student group takeovers are fantastic ways to give prospective students real insight into what your institution is like.
Have proud students engage with your Snapchat badges and filters, and create content on-campus. It has more influence than you might think and you’ll have a wealth of assets to use in future campaigns.
This content could reach three different types of prospects:
- Friends of the student at the same university, enriching their collegial pride
- Friends of the student at other universities, showcasing a better study experience
- Prospects not yet at the application stage – who you want a long-term relationship with.
If there isn’t a strong sense of pride or brand identity at your university, UGC strategies that encourage this are essential for long-term engagement.
And funnelling this content into ads that sit natively on the platform means you’ll be one step ahead.
If you’re using digital platforms like Snapchat as a means to seek applications or attend an event, you can save the funds that would be spent on a billboard and invest it in something that gives you measurable ROI.
Snapchat ads that encourage viewers to swipe up, for example, can take them to a mobile lead capture page, which in turn allows you to get more details for a targeted email marketing campaign.
This is why you cannot afford to merely tack social media platforms on the side of the campaigns you already have running – they need to be front and centre, and fully integrated with your other channels.
Digital Platforms Mean You Can Constantly Optimise Your Efforts
If you’re hung up on outdated marketing tactics, you’re probably not going to be able to measure them effectively.
When you’re using Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and emails, you can see what’s working, why, with whom, and where. In real time.
This gives you the power to turn off underperforming ads and give the copy a shake up.
Maybe people are visiting your mobile lead capture page, but aren’t registering their details – perhaps there are too many fields to fill out.
Whatever it is, the capability to optimise your digital advertising efforts means the value of these platforms is enriched considerably.
Regular updates mean your audience will always see the most relevant content you have to offer. It’s hard to do that with a TVC or billboard.
Make the most of A/B testing while you can and watch your results grow.
Consistency is Key
It’s super important and easy to get wrong if you don’t have a strong brand voice.
But when you open up more channels of communication to your audience, it means that your voice needs to flow smoothly between each message.
Let’s say a student sees your casual Snapchat ad and registers on the mobile lead capture page form.
If the first email they get is extremely formal, it creates a jarring experience.
Similarly, if you’re creating a great on-campus community feeling through social media, only to respond to a prospective student in a distanced, copy-and-paste tone, it’s hardly a good first impression.
What happened to that community building we were talking about?
Keep your communication tight and think about what stage of the student journey your prospective applicants are in.
Highlighting UX copywriting across your communication efforts is going to really make the difference when it comes to making unfamiliar faces part of your community.
Look out for What’s New
Get the first-mover advantage. Find the coolest filters before anyone else. Surprise your students with an augmented reality scavenger hunt.
Catching up is never fun and moves you from a proactive position to reactive restraints.
It’s easier said than done, but if you want to measure your results and optimise them to meet your goals, it’s worthwhile.
By investing in digital strategies today, you’ll be on your way to a streamlined, data-oriented marketing strategy to see your enrolments grow.