Marketing segmentation is critical in helping colleges and universities stand out in today’s competitive landscape.
Splitting your enrollment marketing tactics to appeal to specific prospective student groups isn’t just good form, it’s now a requirement for success. By understanding how your school or new degree program lives in the minds of prospective students, you can be smarter about how you market to them in ways that will plant you firmly into their consideration set.
1. What are 1-2 specific strategies a traditional 4-year university can implement for gaining the attention of prospective transfer students and adult learners?
Don't overlook community colleges! They offer an excellent opportunity to gain and hold a captive audience. The marketing environment at the community college level is much more relaxed compared to that of a 4-year institution. Because community college students see less advertising on their campuses, they tend to be more likely to notice and engage with marketing messages when they are present.
There is a misconception that there aren't many media channels that can reach community college students, but this is not true. Higher-ed marketers are actively using geo-fencing and IP traffic around a physical campus address to target ads on mobile devices and computers. Community colleges are more receptive to well-planned campus events and marketing if it’s done through the right channels.
2. What marketing channels effectively reach advanced or specialty degree-seeking students (i.e., students looking to enter graduate or professional school)?
The first step is identifying the right undergraduate schools that have the most students you need for the programs you are trying to promote. We like to do this by using a tool called Mytasca, which provides access to institutional program information alongside degree completion data. Once you have an idea of the right schools to focus on (and you may be surprised which ones might be untapped gems!), you can look at the media opportunities that exist at those schools, reach out, and start a dialogue. When combined with a hyper-targeted mobile, Facebook or online advertising campaign, sending prospective student emails that are well-segmented by major and school are a very effective way to reach your target audiences.
3. What can colleges and universities do more effectively with social media to connect with prospective students?
There is a temptation across the board to want to be on every social channel, but one can do that effectively. Find the channel that best allows you to communicate your unique messaging and focus your energies there. Just be sure it's a channel your perspective students are using!
Having a staff person who is dedicated to social media engagement is key. This person should be given permission to speak to and engage with prospective students freely via social media without having to run every word through some prolonged approval process. Find someone passionate about your program who can speak authentically to prospective students and then let them go do it. Trust them!