How will you attract the next Class?
Even though traditional universities are non-profit they must generate a surplus of income over expenditure year after year. This enables reinvestment in facilities and infrastructure to ensure that they remain financially viable. To help accomplish this universities must attract new students. While word-of-mouth and media acclaim play an integral role in student acquisition marketing is also critical. Students today are performing their due diligence online which is where your messaging needs to be focused. The cornerstone of any successful digital marketing campaign is content. Your website’s content must be shaped and positioned in a manner that captures the online search being conducted by aspiring academics. The more targeted the content the more qualified (ready to apply) the traffic to your institution’s website will be. Below is a breakdown of how to position your site’s content.
Top 5 Content Targeting Tips for Your University Digital Marketing Strategy
Target by Undergraduate and Graduate Programs
This is the broadest category for your content marketing strategy, but searchers are still very qualified. Prospective students aren’t just searching for universities in a given city, province, state, or country, they want to know which ones offer undergraduate and graduate programs that are applicable to their goals. Your website already has sections devoted to these two types of programs, but are the sections search-engine-optimized (SEO) to be found on Google and BING? Does your PPC campaign target “undergraduate”, “graduate”, “Masters”, and “PhD” by discipline? Digital content campaigns need to be broken down by undergraduate and graduate programs. Once you’ve established this you can move on to the niche studies within each type of program.
Target by Program Studies
Your institution may be well known for one or two areas of study, such as business or a field of science. Your prestige in said arenas typically equates full classrooms, but there is a good chance that many of the other studies at your university are being overlooked. Every empty seat in a lecture hall represents lost income, which is why your marketing campaign must consider every single type of study being offered.
Moving forward, you will want to create a dedicated and optimized page for every study found under both undergraduate and graduate programs. For example, if you hope to increase enrollment in Cultural Studies, distinct web pages need to be created for a Bachelor of Cultural Studies, a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies, and PhD in Cultural Studies (as applicable). From there, you need to publish supportive content for these pages, which includes a series of articles, research submissions, and downloadable white papers, all of which will link back to the original source pages. This shows search engines and prospective students alike that your institution offers exactly what they need to validate your university as an authority on a given subject, so to speak.
Target by International Studies
International student enrollment drives a very significant proportion of income to universities. Tuition is higher and students typically require additional services such as housing, insurance, and more. An entire section of your website must be created or updated to capture all online search occurring for International Studies, and it should be proportionate to your enrollment and/or income. For example, if 40% of current or desired enrollment/income comes from international students, then approximately 40% of your website should focus on International Studies. This will require geo-targeted content that considers language and cultural differences. In addition to communicating international student enrollment in a variety of program studies, they will also require online access to information about what student life is like as an international student (more on this below).
It’s also important to note that International Studies are a two-way street for many universities. For instance, you may offer Canadian or American students the opportunity to study abroad through a international university partnership programs. If so, you will want to create targeted pages, articles, and online resource materials for students living within Canada or the U.S. This lets them know that by enrolling in your university they will have access to globe-trotting opportunities.
Target by Student Life
Student life at a university is very important, if not equally important as academic and athletic programs. However, far too many universities neglect to pay enough attention to student life in their digital communications. There is often one “catch all” page that glosses over what students can expect when it comes to non-program and on/off-campus activities, dining, socializing, leisure, entertainment, and more. These “quality of student life” things play a major role in the decision making process for prospective students, so be sure to grow the amount of content that you dedicate to this section. It’s a good idea to coordinate with the student union and encourage the involvement of current students in your business and marketing program to strategize content for this engaging new resource. They can earn credits (or simply experience) by creating the content and managing its delivery on social media and other online channels. Only through their input can you present an accurate representation of what student life is like at your campus.
Target by Financial Assistance
One thing that keeps students from applying to your university is perceived cost. On the surface they assume that they cannot afford tuition in addition to housing, books, and materials applicable to program enrollment. What they may not realize, is that there is a large number of scholarships and financial assistance programs that are unique to fields of study, nationality, family income status, and so forth. To break down perceived barriers to entry you will need to create a unique page for each type of financial assistance being offered so that you can target students-in-need accordingly.
If you haven’t already, create dedicated sections on your site for the following:
- Student Loans
- Work-Study Programs
- Government Grants
- Private Grants
Remember, each financial assistance section must be accompanied by specific type. For example, having one section that lists scholarships on one single page is not enough. There needs to be a unique page/URL for scholarships devoted to academic, athletics, community service, gender, minority status, future vocation, and everything in between.
Strategis Consulting Group will help your institution of higher education connect to prospective students, ensuring that your programs have better enrollment numbers than today. Contact us to discuss.