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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman and Mia Ballan

Get Started with Instagram Marketing Strategies to Boost Enrollment

The last time we wrote about Instagram marketing was in 2016. A lot has changed since then. But not everything. It resolutely remains a visual communication tool. But is it still relevant? (It is.) Aren’t kids these days on TikTok? (Yes, that’s true, too.)

Here are the facts: 57% of Americans aged 12 to 17 use Instagram each week, and 63% use TikTok according to Forrester. Just as important are the 48% of 30-49 year-olds and 29% of 50-64 year-olds – many of whom are your prospective parents – who use the platform. Anyone still wondering if it’s relevant for student recruitment and enrollment? Didn’t think so.

If your institution is only doing organic posts to Instagram, or your Instagram paid campaigns haven’t reaped the return you’d hoped, read on for a look at how your team can use this platform to boost enrollment. This post will be beneficial for those ideating and managing your campaigns. That means, pass it on to others on your team responsible for this stuff if that's not you.

As with any social platform, there are two ways to work it: the free way or the pay-to-play way. We’ll take a look at both.

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Getting Started with TikTok Marketing for Ed Institutions

Marketing Rule No. 1: Be where your target demographic is. If your audience skews toward ages 16 to 24, then your audience is on TikTok. Know anyone focused on this market? We thought so.

TikTok is no longer exclusively a place for teens to post cutesy dance videos. When done correctly, this A-list short-form video platform is the perfect way for institutions to connect with prospective and current students in a format that makes sense to them. There’s a reason, after all, why TikTok is the first non-Facebook app to achieve 3 billion global downloads.

Your job: it’s all about getting the user experience right. If your university or private high school is not already on TikTok, we have to ask, why not?

Wait, we can probably answer that! Is it staffing shortages? (That's another blog post altogether).

We’ll go further out on the limb and suggest you may be struggling with developing a strategy for the platform (what behaviors are you trying to push?) and the challenge of creative execution (who has time to create all that fun stuff?). You know this already: TikTok is no place for drab, factual, instructional content.

You probably know this as well (or at least have sense of it): TikTok has 1 billion monthly active users, making it one of the fastest-growing social networks globally. It also has 50 million daily active users in the US, meaning 18.68% of Americans log into TikTok every day.

Due to its eerily intelligent algorithm pushing content onto its “For You” discovery feed (the page you see when you fire up the app), it’s easier than you may think for new viewers (aka prospective students) to discover your institution’s account. To boot, content created for TikTok can be repurposed for Instagram Reels, Twitter, and other platforms, making it a time-effective investment.

Read on to learn how your enrollment marketing team can develop and execute a savvy TikTok strategy that will get you noticed and help boost your enrollment…

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Getting Started With Building an Audience

In the higher education space, your institution is competing with so many options that prospective students have. We know that most students attend a university within 50 miles of their home while large state institutions and the elite options have a stronger draw from coast to coast and beyond.

With these realities in mind, today we consider a foundational marketing goal: building a receptive audience so you can nurture prospective students from the point of awareness and inquiry to enrollment, no matter where they reside.

To state the obvious: virtual tours and informational webinars have taken on a bigger role (fewer campus visits), so a robust and engaging digital presence has never been more important to your recruitment process. Has your team evaluated and adjusted your approach to the student journey? Meeting them where they are in each step of their decision-making process?

We’ve offered a number of educational posts on student journey mapping processes you may want to read (for reference: our recent series Tracing the Student Journey Part 1 and Part 2).

We'll be talking about these enrollment management and student recruiting approaches and so much more at #NAFSA22 in just a few weeks. Let us know if you'd like to schedule a coffee with one of our team. We are leading 4 NAFSA sessions this year and one of them received the honor of being selected for live broadcast. Watch this space for details and we hope you can join us.

For now, read on for our top recommendations on how to build an audience online.

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Text Message Marketing for Universities and High Schools

Surveys from Mongoose (a popular SMS provider) tell us that a full 80% of students want to receive text messages from academic institutions. The caveat: they only want messages that matter. No fluff. We get it. We bet you do, too. And, the return on well-executed texts is more than worth the careful content planning effort.

SMS marketing is proving to be a direct, cost-effective way to recruit and retain students. If your institution hasn’t explored SMS marketing, now is the best time to start. It’s a little like the question, “When is the best time to start exercising?” The answer is always, now!

For those of you in the know, Slate added text messaging in early 2020 as one of their marketing features. There’s a reason for that. Important to note that the feature will not allow you to send messages through WhatsApp at this point.

Read on for the answers to Why do it? How to get started? And, what are the best practices for effective execution? The short answer: spot on content drives results.

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5 Lead Nurturing Best Practices for Universities and High Schools

For enrollment management professionals, the next few months are all about watching the applications come in and then pouring everything into nurturing them toward enrollment.

In an ideal world you would personally guide each lead from application to enrollment, but that’s just not feasible for most academic institutions. Instead, you need a strong and efficient lead nurturing strategy to engage your prospects and boost enrollment. (You do have one, right?)

Strong lead nurturing strategies take into account each stage of prospective students’ decision process and gives them relevant information along the way.

In fact, the best strategies anticipate student questions before the student (or parent) even knows they are going to ask them. When you’ve done this work for a long time, you tend to know the general flow of the journey of most consumers.

You see how the family starts with a few obvious questions, learns a few things, and then realizes the next questions that need asking. Not unlike the way students progress in the classroom as they come to understand a subject. Learning is an iterative process of inquiry that builds on itself.

In nurturing students selecting an institution or degree program, you are looking for a meaningful alternative to the one-on-one conversations you wish you could have over the course of the admissions journey. Rather than literally holding each lead’s hand, your role is to champion a rock-solid lead nurturing strategy for your institution.

If you’ll be attending the 2022 AIEA conference in New Orleans (Feb 20-23), be in touch and we’ll find time for a coffee and an exchange of ideas.

To learn the 5 key tactics that will help your team create a lead nurturing strategy that works, read on. This post is a great primer for any recruitment team interested in strengthening enrollment yield.

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Getting Started With Chatbots

Over the past decade, chatbots have become more accessible and less expensive to universities. By incorporating an AI-powered chatbot into your website, applicants, students, and parents can find answers to their questions instantaneously. Institutions also demonstrate that they have the tech-savviness necessary to educate Gen Z and Millennial students.

The upcoming AIRC conference in Miami will have great learning opportunities on tech tools like chatbots as well as the usual range of international student recruitment insights from all corners of the globe. The Intead team is excited to present alongside our colleagues from Fordham University, Northeastern University, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science. Please be in touch to schedule a meeting with us at the event. 

Our recent presentation at the CIEE Summit offered up perspective on global partnerships and how they support an institution’s larger internationalization effort. Find some of that perspective here: 10 Ways to Develop Strategic Advantage for Enrollment. We are working on providing access to the full recording and slide deck.

Back to the chatbot discussion: with today’s conversational chatbots, you are creating the user experience your important site visitors have come to expect as they traverse the internet every day. It is all about building the relationships that drive enrollment conversion.

Read on for a breakdown of what you’ll want to consider.

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