The Educated Marketer

 

Common Misconceptions About Inbound Student Recruitment

by Leah Peters | Feb 25, 2016

 |  college recruitment

 | 0 comments

There are some persistent myths out there about using inbound marketing for student recruitment. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Skeptics in the Pub

Misconception #1: “Inbound marketing takes way too much time!”

Here’s why that’s wrong:

Yes, it takes time to create and maintain content for a mobile-optimized website and distribute that content on well-designed and responsive social media platforms.

Setting up a successful inbound strategy for enrollment takes a significant investment of time—but it’s just that: an investment. And the return on investment (ROI) of inbound is very high. According to HubSpot data, an inbound campaign was a remarkable 95x more effective in terms of ROI than a direct mail campaign!

Misconception #2: “If prospective students do land on our blogs, it’s only by luck!”

Here’s why that’s wrong:

A smart inbound student recruitment strategy doesn’t rely on luck—it relies on research. To attract, empower, and educate prospective students and their parents, and to eventually convert them into leads (and into students!) you need to know who you’re looking for. What are their interests? Why would your college or university be a great fit for them? What questions and concerns will they have, and what kind of search terms are they going to be entering when they go online to do research about their higher education options? You’ve got to create detailed personas that fit the kind of students you’re looking to attract, craft compelling content that’s designed to respond to the questions they’re asking—and the way they’re asking them.

Misconception #3: “It takes too long to set up an inbound strategy for student recruitment!”

Here’s why that’s wrong:

As we noted above, it does take time to earn the attention of prospective students through an integrated and strategic inbound marketing plan.

But when we’re talking about decision-making in higher education, we’re talking about a very long research cycle and a high dollar value. No one pays a tuition bill without having done plenty of research, and a content marketing strategy works particularly well for precisely this kind of decision.

So it’s not the case that inbound takes “too long” to reach prospective students. On the contrary, it’s the marketing strategy that works best for precisely the sorts of decisions they’re preparing to make.

Misconception #4: “It’s hard to juggle blogs, premium content, and social media.”

Here’s why that’s wrong:

We’re not going to tell you that its easy, but existing platforms—like HubSpot—make inbound marketing automation easier for admissions offices to handle. No, you can’t just schedule a bunch of blog posts and tweets and Facebook updates and then put your feet up. The college admissions funnel doesn’t work like that; today’s students expect you to be responsive, and you need to be. But with the right strategy and the right tools, and an adequate investment of time, you’ll find that managing inbound marketing is more than worth it (and maybe even fun!)

Misconception #5: “It’s impossible to generate enough compelling content.”

Here’s why that’s wrong:

There are always interesting things going on at a college or university—you just need to look for them. And don’t assume that all prospective students are overly interested in new building projects or the success of a particular university athletic team. Effective student recruitment professionals know the things that make their institution uniquely attractive to a particular kind of student, and to reach those students, you need to be telling the kinds of stories they want to hear. If your institution has a great robotics lab that’s working with physiologists to create state of the art prosthetic limbs, go looking for a story that’s not just interesting, but click and share-worthy. Don’t just tell prospectives that your college or university is as great place: show them. The stories are out there. You’ve got to find them and tell them.

Misconception #6: “A free ebook or a great video can’t replace a viewbook or visit.”

Here’s why that’s wrong:

When it comes to viewbooks and other expensive direct-mail options, the numbers don’t lie: in one study, just 3% of students said they waited for the college or university to contact them. The other 97%? They initiated contact with the institution —using (you guessed it) the Internet to research their decision. In some cases, this involves using a digital viewbook.

While it’s true that campus visits are hard to replace, it’s also true that constraints of time and finances make it difficult for every rising junior or senior to visit all the school that she or he plans to apply to. This is where your student recruitment team has the opportunity to leverage the power of inbound marketing to delight interested students with content that aims to give them a sense of what your college has to offer—and put it in the palm of their hand.

To Sum Up:

The best evidence suggests that inbound marketing strategies are a highly effective model for college and university student recruitment, offering a compelling ROI and an approach that’s compatible with how prospective students are accessing information and making decisions related to higher education.

Learn how to beef up your college recruitment with our free Inbound Marketing checklist.

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