The New Normal for Higher Education Marketing

The combination of increased competition, economic recession and larger operating costs has put a strain on the higher education market. Colleges and universities must find new ways to recruit prospective students that provide better cost-efficiencies and find “right-fit” students to improve graduation statistics.

Re-evaluating student acquisition strategies
CUnet reports that the post-secondary market across the globe is experiencing higher costs-per-enrollment (CPE) along with increased competition for online students. Attracting and enrolling new students with tight budgets is a bigger challenge than ever. Institutions need to find new ways to find, attract and retain the students that best suit their educational and cultural environments.

Paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), social media and mobile marketing are all taking on larger roles in the higher education marketing mix. But analysis and measurement of all marketing tactics is key to identifying the optimal plan. Knowing which outreach methods obtain the most qualified candidates—in what format and frequency—helps institutions focus their marketing processes and procedures to achieve their enrollment goals.  

Student journey insight
Sophisticated marketing software systems help schools implement programs for integrated campaigns, track the potential student’s progress through the various marketing channels, and chart the success of each program so that the tactics can be refined based on results. Over time, knowledge on where the most successful student inquiries are coming from—organic search, paid search, social media, mobile channels or other more traditional marketing programs, such as emails, open houses, college fairs, etc.—can be gained.

Maintaining an accurate record of costs related to acquiring students is critical to your decision-making process. The cost of applying limited resources to your leads must be factored in. A large number of institutions report not accurately measuring the average cost-per-start. Learning new software and media methods requires an ongoing time investment, which is why many schools opt to partner with an agency that specializes in higher education.

Outreach efforts
Colleges and universities need to continually re-assess outreach efforts to ensure optimum ROI. Some suggestions for the process include:

  • Diversify the media mix and leverage all appropriate social media, paid search and search engine optimization opportunities.
  • Measure and analyze each marketing campaign to uncover where potential students respond and when they convert.
  • Adjust marketing methods based on the results measured.
  • Form specialized teams to enrich the recruitment process for different verticals, such as military, transfer students and graduate students.
  • Incorporate alumni community programs to unlock donations for continual support.

Your school’s response to a prospective student inquiry is even more critical today than five years ago. Comply has created a complimentary infographic Student journey: from awareness to enrollment that highlights how self-directed student prospects select the school that is right for them.
For additional information on how to create a more successful marketing strategy that targets high value prospective students, read Gravity—the power of attraction or contact Comply today to discuss ways to measure and improve your ROI.


About the Author

KELLY O'BRIEN—President and founding partner responsible for account management and all management activities within Comply pertaining to resources, finance, operations, production and technology.

Leave a comment
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.