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Recruiting Intelligence

What Your Students Need Now Part 2

Last week, we put your prospective students’ SOS call on your radar.

Today, we’re going to show you exactly how to answer that call.

(Those of you reading to the end of this post, we can feel your thanks. You're welcome).

From the Naviance data we covered in Part 1 of this series, one thing is clear: your digital strategy and shifts in messaging are crucial right now. With COVID-19 agitating the waters, many students (domestic and international) are lost at sea in the college search and decision-making process. It’s your job to throw them all a life jacket. Metaphor alert: that life jacket is: engaging, informative, customized digital marketing content.

Students will be receptive to your messaging this fall. They want your guidance. Do you know what to say?

With the help of more Naviance data and our own market research, this week’s post is all about the how, where, and what of your digital marketing messaging in this unfamiliar time of COVID-19.

Our goal: helping you create messaging that will guide your prospects through those choppy waters…right to the safe harbor of your institution. Don't worry, we’re done with the ocean metaphors now. 

Read on for the digital tools and key topics your prospects need this fall and how to incorporate them into your admissions and enrollment strategy. 

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What Your Students Need Now Part 1

Today’s post has been eighteen years (and six months) in the making. 

Today we're talking domestic. Because: enrollment.

We had this this post ready to go at the start of the year – a look at Naviance’s inaugural Student Survey with data from over 1.1 million students from the Class of 2019 on when and how they search for colleges, as well as their greatest decision-making factors. Naviance, the college readiness tool from Hobsons, Inc. has been collecting data from its users since 2002, but this was the first survey report of its kind ever released to the public.  

And then COVID-19 happened.  

The when and how of students’ college search process has changed. Those decision-making factors? Well, they look a bit different now. Those insights and data from over 1.1 million students all made irrelevant overnight.

Or not.

Maybe Hobsons knew something the rest of the world didn’t when they decided to launch this inaugural survey research in 2019 BC (Before COVID). The survey, while no longer a guide for recruitment strategy in itself, has become an invaluable benchmark for new research on how students’ college search processes have been disrupted by COVID and what that means for your future marketing.

Hint: You’re not thinking of buying lists, are you?

Helpful: A planning resource we've just recently released -- The New Student Enrollment Playbook - COVID-19 Edition.

Our goal: rescuing students who are lost at sea as they weigh all their options.

Read on for the insights from Naviance and what they mean for your admissions and enrollment strategy. Spoiler alert: your path to success will mean using digital tools to provide students what they need, now.

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Short Form Video Players Set For a Showdown

When it comes to marketing, content is king – but distribution is queen and the right channel matters. Smart marketers know to go where their target student audience lives, learns, and connects online. 

With recruitment travel off the table for 2020, it's time to get creative in how you reach (attract) and convert student leads. Up-leveling your digital efforts will be essential as you plan for your Spring and Fall 2021 cohorts. Your challenge: translating those engaging IRL recruitment experiences, think on-campus tours, student fairs, sample lectures and the like, from people to pixels

Luckily, your Gen Z prospects have a particular penchant for a certain type of  content that lends itself very well to the digital reproduction of in-person experience: video.

According to Think with Google, 71% of Gen Z teens spend 3+ hours per day watching videos online. Competition for eyeballs is fierce, to say the least, especially in the newly crowded short form video arena. TikTok is the it-app. Instagram wants its Reels to be the vanguard of viral video tomorrow. Or, wait, will it be YouTube’s Shorts? Or Bytes? Knowing which content belongs where is key to brand awareness and conversion. 

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do know a few things for sure:

  • Online video consumption is incredibly popular—232 million digital video viewers just in the U.S., in fact. And internationally? Consumption of video in China, many Middle Eastern countries and in South Africa, for example, are off the charts. as compared to other digital channels.
  • Video sharing is widely used not only to entertain, but to educate and inform. Several institutions that hopped on the short-form video bandwagon early are already using social platforms to engage their prospects with an authentic, #nofilter look at campus life. 
  • Considering your domestic recruitment channels, digital video penetration in the U.S. is projected to reach almost 84% in 2021, according to Statista.

We also know that the student recruitment and enrollment marketing rules have changed as of 2020. So, of course, we wrote an insightful ebook full of perspective and recommendations. The downloads have been pretty steady since we launched it a couple weeks ago. If you are not among them, click here.

There is no question that video is the future, but predicting where that video will live is still uncertain. Will TikTok users quickly adopt Instagram Reels? Maybe. Where should you invest your ad dollars? That’s a larger discussion. 

Read on for our perspective on each of these video-sharing platforms to help you weigh your options. 

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Deliver Ads That Deliver Value

You have your smiling student photos, a brief headline, and a budget — what could possibly go wrong?

Reality: if creating an effective student recruitment ad campaign were as simple as “insert pretty campus photo here,” digital marketing agencies like ours would be out of a job. And we know what happens when that pretty campus/smiling student photo gets in the way of effective advertising…those in control stem the flow of dollars to your digital marketing budget. Will the challenges to your student recruiting ever end?

Why is it so hard?

Content drives interest, from the first point of contact (attraction) to the conversion events that drive student enrollment.

Your prospective students face an onslaught of information. In a recent Facebook survey of its global users, 43% of Gen Zers reported that they find it difficult to choose what to watch, listen to, and read. With brands clamoring for digital attention on all sides, it’s harder for you to stand out and harder for your target audience to make sense of all this noise. Enrollment marketing is a highly competitive sport.

All the more reason that your ads need to add value to your audience. Your ads must capture the attention of the high-quality leads that convert, not those that click and go nowhere.

And in case you've missed our most recent publications (providing more ways to leverage that digital marketing budget effectively), you can download our latest eBook, The New Student Enrollment Playbook: COVID-19 Edition, as well as our recent digital marketing case studies (performance benchmarks for your digital marketing campaigns) for free. 

Read on for our 3 top tips for creating ads that resonate. We love talking about this stuff, so if you’re looking for more help on refining those campaigns, you know where to find us.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (2)

Listening to a radio interview this past weekend, I heard a fantastic analogy from a recording artist describing why she collaborated with others on her most recent album:

When you go to the playground and bounce the ball off the wall by yourself, you know how it will bounce back to you.

Collaborating with other talented people produces more than you can produce by yourself. And it often produces the unexpected bounce that takes your project to the next level. Today we will look at a digital marketing case study for a campaign we ran in India, Brazil, and the U.S.

This is our second post in our enrollment management series addressing the question of how much of a media budget do you need to succeed with your digital student recruitment campaigns?

The answer: Benchmarks are the signposts to improvement and success. When you run campaigns, you capture the data that tells you how to improve. Collaborate with us and we will help you get the desired campaign bounce (not bounce rate – that’s something entirely different ; -)

We are providing our community with case studies offering a level of detail you simply do not find out there. We look at case studies offered up on other websites and often we are perplexed by what their definition of “case study” is. What we are providing: actual campaign results to help you know if you are doing things right.

Our recent enrollment marketing campaigns for a range of institutions have targeted student audiences in Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, France, India, and of course, the US. Campaigns on the horizon will target recruitment stalwarts: China, India, and South Korea as well as Australia and Canada.

Pro tip: you’ll want to share these posts with your team. Better yet, get them to subscribe to our blog.

And here is a link to last week’s Intead Blog and Case Study about Kenya and Ecuador in case you missed it.

Read on for perspective on the talent and budget needed to make your next digital student recruitment campaign even more successful.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (1)

How much of a media budget do you need to succeed with your digital student recruitment campaigns?

The answer: Benchmarks are the signposts to improvement and success. When you run campaigns, you capture the data that tells you how to improve.

For the next few weeks in this enrollment management series, the Intead team will share what marketing agencies rarely, if ever, share publicly: real campaign results to help you know if you are doing things right.

Just looking at some of our recent enrollment marketing campaigns for a range of institutions, we have targeted student audiences in Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, France, India, and of course, the U.S. More campaigns on the horizon will target recruitment stalwarts: China, India, and South Korea as well as Australia and Canada.

Do you see any of your target audiences in this set? Thought so.

Pro tip: you’ll want to share these posts with your team. Better yet, get them to subscribe to our blog.

Read on for perspective on setting leadership’s expectations for future success, what to throw into a campaign (talent and budgets), and the real, detailed benchmarks to measure your performance. Yes, all of that (but you have to read to the end to get it ; -)

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Advertising to Students with Instagram


Should Instagram be one of your student recruitment tools?

Here's another question more to the point: Are you prepared to ignore the 50% of high school seniors searching for university options via Instagram?

Sure, go ahead and put your marketing budget into those slick mailers that cost $10+ per piece. You do know that they go straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin, right? Trust us, we have 17 year olds at home and watch it happen each week. Sorry, harsh but true.

In last week’s blog post we introduced you to all of the great things Instagram can offer to universities: ease of use, engaging content, targeting younger student groups, providing a glimpse of life on campus. All of these things are great for your digital marketing initiatives. And Instagram is constantly updating and evolving both their phone app and website to make the platform even easier to use.

In addition to those free features Instagram offers its users, the platform recently added advertising options. In this week’s post, Emily will introduce us to the how's and why's of advertising to students on Instagram.

QUICK SIDE NOTE: Can We Meet in Denver? We will be at the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference in May presenting new data about the impacts of current economic and political events around the world on students’ plans to study abroad. Use this link to schedule a time to meet with us at NAFSA in Denver. We’d love to learn about your recruiting plans and share our latest research with you in person.

Now, on to Emily's take on Instagram...

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