College enrollment numbers across the US are finally inching toward stabilization. But there’s still no evidence regarding the likelihood of returning to pre-pandemic levels, and marketing strategies to increase student enrollment still need to do a lot of heavy lifting. Enrollments in higher ed sectors declined by 0.5% between spring 2022 and spring 2023, a vast improvement from the 3.1% decline only a year earlier. However, these numbers aren’t uniform across the country. For example, only 53% of high school graduates in Tennessee go directly to college, while the average is nearly 10% higher at 62% across the nation.
Many elements contribute to the downward trend, including a dwindling population of individuals under 18 and the reverberating impacts of the pandemic. However, the changing mindset toward continuing education is also a lingering concern. Inflation continues to drive up the cost of both living and education. As a result, many families don’t believe they can afford to send students to college. At the same time, students are wondering if the value of higher education aligns with the financial and time commitment required.
Institutions interested in increasing college enrollment numbers will need to take a different marketing approach to attract students who came of age in the era of digital technology. Today’s educational opportunities need to deliver outcomes that align with the demands and conveniences produced by the constant evolution of technology. To attract a modern generation of college-goers, higher education institutions will need to meet students where they are and engage them with new strategies. Consider how these marketing strategies to increase student enrollment will help you align with the needs of students considering higher education in 2024.
1. Develop a Strong Online Presence
A whopping 93% of American adults use the Internet. It’s ubiquitous in decision-making processes that range from shopping to career choices. Today’s high school students, parents, and young adults mapping their career goals search online for information to help guide their choices about higher education.
For colleges and universities, the practically countless channels available for increasing college enrollment can be both a blessing and a curse. The Internet offers a plethora of opportunities for developing marketing strategies to increase student enrollment.
But creating a strong online presence requires more than simply showing up. Educational facilities must consider student expectations surrounding the use of modern technology while accurately displaying how they stand out from other institutions.
These elements can help you create a strong online presence in the modern educational sector.
- An accessible and intuitive website. 87% of students rely on school websites to research program options. But less than half say the most sought-after information is easy to find. By using WCAG guidelines for accessibility and prioritizing user experience, you can create a dynamic website that offers the best experience for your target audience.
- An effective social media presence. Social media platforms can help universities build an active community and keep audiences engaged and informed. However, spreading your efforts too thin can yield lackluster results. The top three social media platforms for teens are YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. The same platforms are popular among 18-29 year olds. However, Facebook use is far more prevalent in the young adult group, at 70% compared to 32% of teens.
- Interactive maps. Interactive campus maps extend far beyond the wayfinding capabilities of static paper and digital maps to showcase what makes a location unique. With 3D renderings and live data feeds, prospective applicants can visualize themselves as a student on campus.
2. Share Detailed Information About Financial Assistance
Cost is a crucial issue for students considering college. Worries surrounding rising education costs and student loan debt are growing alongside economic concerns. At the same time, most students are unaware of their potential eligibility for financial aid.
For instance, many Tennessee high school students didn’t think they qualified for state student aid when they were, in fact, eligible. In Indiana, 70% of residents found trying to understand state financial aid options overwhelming.
Most students who see cost as an insurmountable hurdle won’t pursue the subject further. Marketing strategies to increase student enrollment must address such barriers. Higher education institutions can help students and their families consider potential opportunities. How? By sharing easily understandable information and statistics through brochures, websites, and social media.
Including FAFSA resources on admissions sites can offer an immediate path for students to begin applying for financial aid. Also, displaying information about assistance for basic needs can offer reassurance for concerns about reliable food and housing. Above all, it’s essential to be transparent in communications about financial aid. Divulge the net costs of attending college to establish a sense of trust.
3. Personalize Interactions
Students planning to pursue higher education have no shortage of choices. While it’s recommended that students apply to five to eight schools, some may apply to more. While composing such a list, students will conduct substantial research to find the best fits academically, socially, and financially. By using personalized marketing strategies aimed at increasing student enrollment, you can engage students early in their search.
More than two-thirds of high school students and first-year college students prefer receiving personalized messages from their educational institutions of choice. Personalization improves readiness to enroll and helps with a smooth transition into college. These tips for gathering relevant information and reaching out across multiple platforms can help you personalize communications with potential students.
- Ask about preferences regarding communication platforms and desired information types early in the funnel.
- Create ongoing dialogues targeted to student interests by sharing requested data and sending follow-ups with inquiries and added information.
- Build personalized web content based on user-supplied information or browser information.
- Personalize calls to action based on an applicant’s position in the funnel.
- Incorporate personalized texts into communication efforts for a more individualized approach.
4. Engage Students Early and Often
Gen Z is a tech-savvy generation. Prospective students expect higher education institutions to take advantage of the many benefits supplied by modern technology. Since it’s rarely possible for students to visit every school they consider, it’s essential to use digital marketing strategies to increase student enrollment.
By using dynamic virtual tools, you can attract interest and encourage students to take the next steps toward enrollment. These popular options enable students to get a feel for the environment before ever stepping foot on campus.
Basic maps provide wayfinding data about parking, admissions, and campus landmarks. But interactive campus maps engage students with interactive tools that enhance wayfinding. They offer a multitude of functions that improve navigation and showcase campus life.
Interactive maps can also enable college personnel to measure student engagement and make adjustments to yield the best results. For example, when Michigan Tech University needed an engaging solution to meet admissions goals, an interactive map with the ability to track student engagement on the map was the answer. In the first year, Michigan Tech saw a 15x ROI, with 21 students converting from the map.
When students can’t visit the campus, 360º virtual tours are the next best thing. The immersive 360º video makes your tour come alive with real-life imagery and interactive features. You can further enhance the experience by adding videos or informative text to tour stops. Give your viewers a peek into what campus life is really like. Mini-maps give viewers a contextual view. Also, the option to add forms enables students to ask for more information.
3D virtual tours also feature analytics to help schools understand how students interact with the tour. When James Madison University implemented an interactive map and 360° Tour into their marketing strategies to increase student enrollment, they immediately saw the potential for these features. The JMU team checks daily to see which tour stops are the most popular and has embedded an RFI form to learn which students are interested. They plan to take these efforts one step further and track prospects’ enrollment statuses after they fill out the form.
College campuses have more to offer than excellent academic programs. Students make friends, build communities, and attend events that make college years one of the most memorable experiences of a lifetime. While students are interested in the coursework that will shape their careers, they also want to know about the social aspects that will shape their lifestyles for the next several years.
An easy-to-use digital calendar shows students what’s happening on campus and makes learning and participating easier. You can:
- Market events
- Enable online registration and payment processing
- Measure success to determine which events are most engaging
Applicants can use the digital calendar to explore campus happenings and learn more about the events they may be interested in attending upon enrollment.
Using Technology to Improve Your Enrollment Efforts
Digital technology can be used to share information, open lines of communication, and meet students on their preferred platforms. Perhaps more importantly, modern digital tools can connect your target audience to physical and in-person events to boost engagement and cultivate a sense of belonging.
Students need to engage with college administration and campus life in various ways to consider enrolling in a university. Modern technology enables you to make these connections faster and more often. All of these marketing strategies to increase student enrollment use technology and speak directly to modern audiences while also including dynamic features that garner more interest.
Concept3D offers technology solutions that reduce communication burdens and enable students to learn more about everything a school has to offer in the digital format they’re accustomed to using. By introducing tools that students can use independently, you can trigger interest and increase college enrollment numbers. Get in touch today to learn more about our interactive digital tools that fit neatly into your marketing strategies to increase student enrollment.