A year such as 2021 brings with it a lot of uncertainty, and predicting marketing strategies and trends in the present situation is deemed to be quite difficult. However, educational institutions and universities that want to leverage the situation, by all means, require well-thought-out strategies that will increase their admission rates.
With the vaccines slowly rolling out and the world trying to stabilize its economy, here are some evergreen educational marketing strategies that are bound to work.
#1. Research Your Target Audience Persona
Although basic, this is where every good marketing strategy begins. A target audience persona is simply a fictional representation of one member of your audience that elaborates on their behaviours and desires.
For example, the target audience for an educational institution looking to increase admissions for the upcoming academic year would clearly be either parents or students. So, ask yourself questions like:
- Do I want to target parents who can afford the top amenities provided by my institution or do I want to target parents with standard monthly salaries?
- Do I want to target students who are seeking exposure in sports and extra-curricular activities or do I want to target students who are interested in academics only?
- Do I want to target students who are interested in distance learning?
Jot down more such questions that will help you describe the behaviours and interests of your target group and answer them. You can also collect data through surveys, observations, and interviews with existing students.
By the end of this process, you’ll find yourself with a fictional character who’d represent your typical target audience. Understanding your customer, that is your target audience, will eventually lead to you having better interactions with them, gaining their trust, and converting them to be retainable customers.
#2. Visualize And Analyse Your Customer’s Journey
A customer’s journey basically includes three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Mapping out the customer journey of the parents or students whom you are targeting gives you clarity on:
- Which stage the parent or student is in,
- What kind of content they are responding well to,
- Which platforms (your website, social media, or other online pages) they use to interact with your institution the most,
- If people are abandoning you for your competitors and at which stages they do so,
- How you can reach them and nurture them to move into the next stage and eventually convert them, that is have them enrol in your institution,
- How you can aim at retaining them.
Here is a more detailed illustration of a customer journey map that outlines what you can use to nurture cold leads into hot ones for your institution.
#3. Make Your Website Interactive For Both Parents And Students
Every parent or student who wants to know more about your institution is obviously going to check out your website. A properly structured website is crucial for an educational institution to increase its enrolments and admissions.
Websites of educational institutions and universities usually come off as being clattered and static. Making your website attractive and elegant not just gives you the edge over other educational institutions, but also gives your target audience a good first impression.
Here are some tips that can help you revamp your website to make it more interactive and easily navigational for visitors.
- Don’t clutter your website with too much information. A student or parent landing on your homepage wants to know about your institution at a glance. Structure your site so that it is easy for them to navigate through.
- The human mind processes image 60,000 times faster than text. So, add captivating images that compliment your content to your website.
- Did you know that Google ranks based on the mobile-first approach? Most searches in 2021 and henceforth are going to be through mobile phones. Make your website compatible with mobile devices as well.
- Research shows that 40% of visitors bounce off a website that doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds. So, analyse if your site has elements that drag its loading speed and try to fasten the process.
- Video content is blooming in the educational sectors as well. Include video testimonials of students, alumni, and parents or videos that walk students through your campus.
#4. Optimize SEO And Local SEO
Now that you have a great user-friendly and aesthetic website, you need to drive-in traffic, potentially the students and parents who are your target group, to your website. This can be achieved with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), wherein you construct each webpage’s content in such a way that it ranks on search engines like Google.
Optimizing websites for educational institutions doesn’t just help in branding but will also bring in a steady amount of traffic to the site, which creates credibility and leads to the website being ranked higher on search engines. Some pointers that can help you as an educational institution ace your SEO include:
- Your page should have a clear architecture,
- Your content should also be well structured,
- Your content should include relevant keywords,
- Your page titles, meta descriptions, and headlines should also be centred around keywords.
By adequately formatting your webpage, especially your blog pages, and optimizing for featured snippets, you can also rank #0, that is above rank #1, in Google’s search results.
It is highly recommended for educational institutions to optimize their Local SEO; so when a parent searches “best schools near me,” your institution will pop up. These “near me” searches are already on the rise and will continue to do so in 2021 since parents may prefer to send their children to schools/colleges in their locality.
#5. Leverage Your Social Media Channels
Did you know?
- Nearly 50% of students say that they use social media to decide where to enrol.
- Four of five students report that conversations with the institution via social media have influenced their decisions.
Social media is a proven way to reach out to both parents and students whom you are potentially targeting. All you have to do is figure out which social media channels your target audience is most active on and which they’d like interacting with you on. Once you know, you can start targeting them organically or by running ad campaigns.
However, content marketing plays a major role here: you can’t just post something random and expect people to interact. Your content needs to be planned, consistent, and authentic. So, how can you leverage social media to promote enrolments to your institution?
- Post informative content consistently that gives students and parents a glance at what your school/college has to offer them.
- Keep professional platforms like LinkedIn updated since they can increase your reputation and advocacy.
- Use social media to connect with your alumni. (Again, LinkedIn is optimal for this.)
- Run conversational ads on LinkedIn to target students for higher education.
- Get real with Instagram Reels! This is a great way to engage students for institutions that already have a follower base on Instagram.
- Use conversational chatbots on your social media messaging channels. You can also provide relevant options to make the chat effortless and interactive.
- Live stream wherever possible!
#6. Nurture Your Leads Via Automated Emails
The parents and students whom you ideally target and are yet to take admission in your institution happen to be your potential lead. The steps mentioned above, when used effectively, will generate leads for you. Now, it comes down to how you nurture them and lead them to decide to enrol in your school/college.
To nurture leads you need to attract and interest your prospective students, followed by letting them decide and take action. To do so, you have to make sure that your audience is constantly viewing and engaging with your content.
Although this can be done via social media channels, email marketing is your best choice to nurture leads. Sending out personalized emails to prospective students will make them engage with you directly. Automation tools help in streamlining these emails so that the right content reaches the right students at the right time in their buyer’s cycle.
Using inbound strategies including knowing your target audience’s persona and tracking their touchpoints while consistently optimizing your SEO, social media, and email automation, an educational institution can be sure to raise its enrolment numbers. Also, being empathetic about and addressing today’s pandemic issues will help you gain the trust of potential students and their parents.