The Educated Marketer


Your Marketing Is Out of Sync With Prospective Students

by Leah Peters | Jun 01, 2016

 |  college recruitment strategy, inbound marketing, social media recruiting strategies



Is your admissions team prepared to use inbound marketing methodology to effectively recruit digital natives?

Digital Natives

Is your marketing strategy hopelessly analog in a digital world? Are you dialing a rotary when your prospective students are tapping on touchscreens and paying for radio spots when they're listening to podcasts?

Read on if you suspect you may be a marketing dinosaur...and learn how not to go extinct.1. Most of your marketing efforts involve advertising

Does your enrollment management strategy rely heavily on advertising?

How much of your budget is currently allocated for purchasing ads?

If you’re a higher education marketing professional and you’re trying to use advertisements to do the work of marketing for you, chances are, it’s not going to go very well.

Traditional advertising isn’t working so well these days. Why should a consumer—or a prospective applicant—trust your messaging about the institution you represent? When today’s rising juniors and seniors (and their parents!) start thinking about college, your advertisements may well be off their radar entirely.

Digital natives—young people who’ve grown up connected to the Internet—are great at ignoring your ads. That’s the bad news. Spend all you want, but those rented lists and purchased ads won’t do much good when you’re putting them in front of people who’ve grown up as experts in tuning them out.

So how do digital natives make purchasing decisions?

By reaching out to their friends and social networks. Yes, they’ll poke around your website, maybe check out the promotional materials you’ve sent, but when the chips are down, old-fashioned word-of-mouth filtered through social media is how millenials decide which car or tablet or breed of dog to buy.

And college is no exception. Make no mistake: your prospective students will be checking your institution out online long before they’re even on your radar. College, after all, is a major investment, and typically involves a long information-gathering and decision-making process.

It’s exactly the kind of thing students and their parents talk about on social media.

That’s where they are. And that’s where you need to be.

Another sign that your marketing methodology is out of sync?

2. You’re spending a lot of time and resources on cold-calls and direct mail

Again, these efforts are not only expensive—they’re ineffective, and quickly becoming increasingly so!

Here are just a few of the numbers (via HubSpot) that should give you pause:

  • 200 million: the number of Americans on the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list
  • 91%: the percentage of email users who’ve unsubscribed from an email list they willingly subscribed to
  • 44%: the percentage of direct mail that is tossed out unopened
  • 86%: the percentage of people who skip TV ads
  • 84%: the percentage of millenials who click away from a favorite website because of annoying ads

The bottom line for marketers? Business as usual simply isn’t going to cut it any more. It’s expensive. It’s ineffective. It’s time to let it go.

And a final sign that your marketing strategy is out of sync with the students you’re trying to reach is this:

3. Blogging, social media, and content offers aren’t part of your strategy

Here’s where we stop telling you what doesn’t work and talk about what does work: inbound marketing.

Compared with traditional marketing, inbound marketing methodology offers a compelling ROI—it’s estimated that a lead generated by inbound costs 62% less than a lead generated by outbound methods.

Successful companies are increasingly reporting that they’re spending more—often much more—on company blogs and social media engagement. Well over half of all businesses polled report having acquired not just leads, but actual customers through a company blog. And the stats are similar for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Inbound marketing methodology tends to work best when we’re talking about high-value purchases with long decision cycles—and that fits the college admissions funnel to a “t.”

Summing it up:

Inbound marketing methodology is the most effective and exciting strategy for student recruitment in higher education today. If you’re not leveraging the power of inbound marketing methodology through the creation of compelling content on blogs and engagement on social media, then chances are you’re out of sync with how today’s students and their parents prefer to gather information for the college decision-making process. Instead of investing in ads, direct mail, and cold-calls— which the majority of people now ignore—it’s time to explore what inbound marketing methodology can do for you.

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