4 ways colleges can leverage recruitment

Colleges can gain a competitive advantage and better leverage for lasting success

colleges-leverage-recruitmentFor college recruitment efforts, traditional “push marketing” programs via broadcast television, direct mail and printed marketing collateral materials are consistently showing diminishing returns on investment, while innovative digital “pull marketing” like social media, interactive content marketing and search engine optimization are stimulating true engagement and increasing conversions.

Recognizing this, savvy college recruitment officers are finding new ways to transition their recruitment efforts to advanced digital marketing programs.

Here are four key emerging trends that college recruiters should keep in mind to implement successful “college recruitment 2.0” programs:

1. Trend: Tracking Prospective Students Online

Rather than sending mass emails and costly marketing collateral materials to lists of prospective students who have never expressed interest in their campuses, recruitment teams are creating and diffusing compelling, relevant online content to stimulate interest and attract students. In turn, marketers are tracking and measuring this content to make informed decisions and create custom-tailored marketing programs.

Utilizing Google Analytics or the most recent upgrade to the platform, Universal Analytics, you can track online visitors to determine how they are interacting with your content across a variety of platforms. More specifically, you can assign specific tracking codes to marketing campaigns and various forms of content online. This can provide great insights about the types of content that are most engaging prospective students.

(Next page: Trends 2-4)

2. Trend: Increasing Geographic Reach

Recruitment officers are placing increased value on international and out-of-state student recruitment to increase both diversity and tuition revenues. According to the 2013 Open Doors Report, international students studying in the United States has increased by 40 percent, adding $24 billion to the nation’s economy during the past 10 years.

The key to stimulating and capturing this demand is providing access and resources to students that are not geographically located near your campus. In today’s digital age, there are numerous tools your campus can implement to increase its reach. These include offering the new online virtual guided walking tours provided by YouVisit or hosting online college fairs through web-based college fair websites.

These resources, which extend access to prospective students who do not have the time and/or money to physically visit your campus, are proven to increase quality inquiries as well as conversion rates for colleges and universities.

3. Trend: MOOC’s

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are here to stay, so it’s imperative for universities to understand the benefits of offering MOOCs to prospective students. While some college administrators have expressed concerns about the threats associated with MOOCs to brick-and-mortar campuses, the reality is that MOOCs strengthen college brands and serve as new channels for online recruitment.

Offering free Web-based education courses enables prospective students to “test drive” your college or university before they commit to long-term enrollment. MOOCs also broaden colleges’ accessibility to students from a variety of geographic, financial and cultural backgrounds.

4. Trend: Utilizing New (and Old) Social Media Platforms 

According to a recent study, more than 68 percent of college students are using social media conversations to influence their enrollment decisions.

Ramping up your campus’ social media presence on the most popular platforms that your prospective students are using will increase your visibility and stimulate their interest in attending your college or university. However, it’s important to keep in mind that teenagers are social media early adopters and switch platforms. As a result, it is important for recruitment officers to stay abreast of which social media sites are gaining traction among high school students.

For example, while Facebook is losing steam among teenagers, 77 percent of prospective students are now using Snapchat. In addition LinkedIn recently launched its University Pages, which connects prospective and current students, as well as alumni on one centralized platform.

Without a doubt, the Internet has become increasingly relevant to reaching prospective students and meeting recruitment quotas. Colleges and universities that keep a close pulse on the latest digital marketing and recruitment trends will gain a significant competitive advantage and better position themselves for continued success.

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.

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