This past year, American colleges and universities received a total of 4,099,861 applications from all across the globe, reports to a December 2022 survey from Common App. That’s a 36 percent increase from the 2020 COVID enrollment slump.
With college admissions back on the rise, it’s crucial that your school maintains a competitive edge to attract new students on campus. So here are a few actionable marketing tips to reach a diverse, outstanding batch of qualified applicants in 2023.
Communicate Your Value
According to a recent poll from Public Agenda, 86 percent of Americans think higher education can help with career advancement. But less than half believe the potential economic benefits will outweigh the tuition and other fees associated with a degree.
83 percent also view college as cost prohibitive to low-income students, while 66 percent feel these institutions are stuck in the past. To cut through all this skepticism, you must show the target audience that your programs are credible, useful, and relevant.
In other words, communicate your value. Share real-time data on the success rates of alumni. Publish content on your achievements in research, academics, liberal arts, and athletics. Ask students, faculty members, or graduates to post testimonials on what they love about the school. Demonstrate how your institution will equip applicants to reach their goals.
Refine Your Brand Image
Many incoming applicants fall into the Gen Z demographic—but while these Gen Zers are more likely to attend college than other generations before them, they also have clear expectations for the school they choose. That decision often rests on brand image.
2022 Shopper Influence research found that Gen Zers are loyal to brands that reflect their core values and sense of identity. This is true for the universities they set their sights on as well. So to attract this selective group, form an authentic, transparent brand image they’ll resonate with. Here are a few questions to help you hone an image that builds traction:
- What makes this institution unique and set apart from other colleges or universities?
- How do the programs, extracurriculars, and campus services meet students’ needs?
- What meaningful social and cultural impact does this institution have on the world? ● How do the quality of this institution’s staff and facilities compare to other schools?
Diversify Your Platforms
The most effective marketing plans aren’t limited to just one or two channels but tap into a wide variety of platforms. The reason is simple: to connect with as large of an audience as possible, you must establish a visible presence wherever they frequent.
Think digital outlets, print media, or even in-person networking. The idea is to be as accessible and interactive as you can. This will increase brand awareness, elevate the profile and influence of the university, and scale the number of potential students you reach.
According to a recent case study, when UC San Diego made a point to diversify their marketing channels, the university saw a 210 percent conversion boost within three years. This just might work for your institution as well—here are a few platforms to expand on:
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok)
- Email (newsletters, surveys, promotions, video content, event invitations)
- Blog Posts (student or alumni spotlights, event recaps, campus features)
- Print Collateral (mailed out brochures, postcards, university magazines)
- Networking (in-person or virtual seminars, Q&A sessions, academic fairs)
Personalize Your Service
More than 70 percent of consumers expect brands to be responsive in real-time, a report from Salesforce indicates. In other words, they want personalized customer service, and they want it now. College applicants are no different—when they click on your site or message you on social media, they’re looking for an efficient, informative answer.
That’s where conversational marketing comes in. These automated, intelligent chat functions enable your target audience to input their queries anytime and receive an immediate live response from an AI bot programmed to simulate natural human speech.
For optimal convenience, you can integrate this feature into your website, social networks, SMS texting, or other virtual communication platforms. It’s a simple but effective way to show potential students that you are reachable at a moment’s notice to answer their questions, connect them with resources and streamline their enrollment process.
Level-Up Your Higher Education Marketing Plan in 2023
Admission rates are on the upswing—but applicants are increasingly selective. Therefore, it’s vital to create a marketing plan that not only catches their attention, but aligns with their values, meets their expectations, and connects with them right where they are. Check those boxes, and you’ll be ready for a successful enrollment period in 2023.