Universities contribute £95 billion to the UK economy each year (Times Higher Education, 2017) – up from £36.4 billion in 2012. In fact, this year, international students alone contribute £25 billion (Universities UK, 2017).
These figures show the education industry to be one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, but the growing market share has inevitably resulted in more competition between Universities to attract students. Recently, supply has outstripped demand and with impending Brexit resulting in a drop in application numbers from international students and so attracting students has never been more important. We look into the biggest marketing trends for the education sector in 2018 that will help you to attract more students in the 2018/19 academic year and beyond.
In the age of all things digital, prospective students expect to be able to get any information they want through the internet before speaking with someone. Providing a virtual tour of campus can allow students to get a feel for the college/university before they visit.
The use of video is becoming more and more valuable to any marketing strategy, if you’re not using video yet – you’re falling behind. Hold interviews with key members of staff explaining their specialty and why students should choose to study their course.
You could turn the individual interviews into a full digital, personalised prospectus, combined with the campus tour to allow students the opportunity to decide whether your institution will be the one for them.
Add credibility by including some personal success stories from previous students to illustrate your school brand and provide an example of where students can expect to be in the future if they choose your institution.
Influencer and relationship marketing
Create great testimonials from your current student base, explaining why they chose your school/college/university over others and what it is they love most about it. Being relatable and establishing a sense of trust with potential students will make them feel comfortable and add an air of familiarity to your establishment.
Ensure any open days you host for prospective students are informative, interactive and engaging and give them something to remember your school by. Ensure the ambassadors you put in place are the best representation of your values and are on hand to help at all times. Give away some promotional material as this will act as a souvenir of the visit, things such as bags, pens, notebooks and USB drives that will help anyone planning to study.
Get social & leverage digital marketing
Considering your audience, social media is the place you should be putting all updates, news, events and general promotion of your school. Engage with potential and current students, use easy to follow twitter hashtags and conduct Q&A’s.
Create a connected experience, use a twitter hashtag for people to comment on your school, for example one for new students to announce they have been accepted. Open Facebook groups for students to be able to ask their peers questions. Putting a community together will make students feel welcome and supported.
Make use of pay-per-click advertising to get your name out there. Be sure that your website is full of lots of useful information, answering any potential questions people may have and then draw people in to get to know your school’s brand.
When marketing your institution, it’s important to have a holistic view of your channels. Consider not only all of the above mechanisms, but leverage them as part of a whole campaign that is personally tailored to your prospective students.
As well as pushing your own messages, it’s important to keep in mind what students look for in a university (which we covered in a recent blog post). Ultimately, it’s communicating this in a personal way across the right channels that will result in a boost in application numbers.
At AlphaGraphics, we specialise in helping higher education institutions deliver data-driven, automated marketing campaigns to improve student recruitment. To find out more, visit: http://education.agnortheast.com/about-us/