Prospective students, proactive students
Today’s consumers -- including prospective students and their parents -- don’t sit back and wait for information to come to them.
Think about it: are you more likely to hang on to and browse through fistfuls of brochures and direct-mail glossies that may or may not be offering anything of interest -- or are you more likely to search online for the answers to your questions and the solution to your needs?
Prospective students and their parents are no longer waiting for college recruitment professionals to get in touch with them. They’re not waiting for the viewbook to land in their mailbox. The vast majority of applicants initiate first contact with the institution of higher education -- after having done their own research online.
Does that mean college recruiters can just sit back and hope for the best?
Definitely not -- but it does mean that their student recruitment strategies need to change to better reflect the significant change in how consumers -- and students -- make decisions.
What Inbound Marketing methodology isn’t
Traditional marketing methodology is all about pushing messages OUT (we call it an outbound strategy). You buy ads, you buy lists, you cold call, you send direct mail, and then you tap your fingers on your desk, waiting and hoping for some kind of return.
The problem with that? Todays’s consumers tend to perceive these methods as interruptive and annoying.
Think of it this way: if you’re looking to catch a particular kind of fish, you can use a trawl net and drag it through the lake, hoping a few of the ones you catch turn out to be the ones you’re looking for. You may end up with a few of your target fish, but you also annoy a lot of other fish in the process. And it’s not so time or cost effective.
That’s outbound marketing methodology.
Attracting the right people with the right message at the right time
But let’s say you know the fish you’re looking to catch. You know what they like to eat, and where, and when. You tailor the bait, the timing, the location. And when they get hungry and go looking for something to eat -- it turns out they look for, and land on you.
That’s inbound marketing methodology.
Today’s rising juniors and seniors have grown up online. They use the Internet constantly. So when they are looking to solve a problem -- or make a big decision -- they’re looking online for content that helps inform them.
How inbound marketing methodology works for student recruitment
What does that mean for the college recruitment professional?
More than 400 schools, including leaders like Harvard, Yale, and Notre Dame, have implemented inbound marketing methodology for student recruitment.
That means that beyond just trying to increase traffic to their websites, they’re trying to attract the right visitors to their websites. It’s not just about quantity -- it’s about quality, and the qualities that comprise your ideal prospective student. It’s about optimizing your website content so that when your ideal student starts searching for colleges, he or she finds you.
Web traffic is not enough -- it’s quality that counts!
Once you’ve crafted your online presence to attract the most qualified visitors, it’s important to convert them into leads -- and that, again, means offering them valuable content. By offering downloadable whitepapers, videos, ebooks, checklists, you can collect the contact information of your visitors, and work toward the process of nurturing those leads into applicants -- and because you’ve offered them a valuable education along the way, you’ll shorten the length of the sales and closing.
Delight at every step of the way
Perhaps most fundamentally, inbound marketing methodology is all about delight. The goal of the strategy, at every point, is always to create a positive and valuable experience -- remarkable, shareable content that customers enjoy. This creates loyalty, and helps to generate referral business. Think about it: aren’t you likely to share content you find delightful, informative, helpful, or just plain fun? Students aren’t any different.
College recruitment professionals love inbound marketing methodology because it fits hand-in-glove with the way today’s prospective students are making their college decisions.Summing it up: Traditional, outbound marketing methodologies are likely to be perceived as interruptive and irrelevant to today’s prospective students and their parents, who tend to do much of their college research independently and online before ever speaking to an admissions professional or making an initial contact. Inbound marketing methodology, which concentrates on attracting the ideal web visitor through optimized online contact, converting those visitors into leads by offering compelling downloadable content, and nurturing those leads into applicants, is the most effective strategy for college recruitment professionals today. Learn how to beef up your college recruitment with our free Inbound Marketing checklist.