Recruitment for today’s higher education institutions is relentlessly competitive. With the tenacity of a reality survival show contestant, you have to throw down the gauntlet to remain at the top of your prospective students’ lists — not to mention convince them to enrol and adopt your brand as a piece of their identity.
And the challenges keep mounting: The attention of your applicants is harder to capture than ever. You can thank the myriad digital platforms everyone (looking at you, Gen Z) depends on for their entertainment, news, information, and socialization for that.
To compete in today’s crowded, competitive digital landscape your institution must creatively tell your brand’s story at every touchpoint. On top of that, you need to anticipate your audience’s needs no matter where they hop on or off the digital trail. That means eking by with an outdated website and disjointed digital marketing strategy isn’t going to cut it.
Instead, you must build excellent experiences on both your website and digital channels to weave a cohesive, compelling, and character-building narrative of your institution — or be left in the digital dust.
An intuitive website in harmony with a savvy digital marketing strategy can significantly increase reach, drive engagement, and spur action from prospective students and key stakeholders alike. All you have to be is everywhere.
Your Higher Ed. Institution’s Digital Media Strategy and Website: An Inseparable Pair.
You can’t do anything halfway in your quest to attract the right-fit students, and faculty and staff. Not in today’s digital-first world, at least. That’s why it’s imperative you fortify a symbiotic, inseparable relationship between an eye-catching, modern website, and an expert digital strategy.
If your institution already boasts a top-notch website that effectively communicates your brand and the student experience, well done. But you’re only halfway there if you lack a robust, connected digital strategy that drives traffic to it. How many potential students will you lose out on if they can’t easily find the graduate program information your website so enticingly displays?
On the flip side, if your digital marketing strategy game is sharp but leads to an outdated website that doesn’t scale to a mobile screen (or perhaps doesn’t lead to your website at all), your web traffic comes to a dead end. Without a lead back to your website through ads or social media posts, where do your prospects find more information about your virtual open house?
Like trusted partners, your digital media strategy and website need each other to get anywhere substantial with your prospects.
In the Frenzied Race to Attract Your Higher Ed. Institution’s Prospects, There’s No Time For Digital Dead Ends.
It’s undeniable that Gen Z transformed the way digital platforms are used. Instead of using one or two platforms for social connection like Millennials, Gen Z constantly hops from platform to platform to satisfy a range of needs: YouTube for homework help, TikTok for entertainment, and Twitch for a social connection, just to name a few.
Mix and match any platform for any motivation and you’ve got Gen Z’s relationship with (and reliance on) all-things-digital in a nutshell.
That said, today’s prospective student journey is a non-linear, complex path that involves numerous digital channels and touchpoints. To have any hope of catching their attention and drawing them back to your website to sign up to receive a catalogue or attend a virtual open house, you have to be ready to meet them wherever they are.
Reaching your target audience in today’s digitally dominated landscape means leveraging your various channels along with all types of content you have at your disposal. And make sure there are no dead ends throughout that entire user’s journey.
At any point on their path, your prospects should always have an opportunity to:
- Learn more about your institution’s offerings.
- Find a way to contact a real human whether by email or phone to ask a question.
- Submit their information.
- Chat with someone online in real-time.
Therefore, a tie back to your website should never be hard to find. Once they get there, it needs to be attractive and modern to sustain their interest. And more and more prospects are expecting a certain level of digital aptitude from your website in the form of self-service, or a set of self-help functions that enhance customer service.
For your institution that may look like:
- Building out online chat functionality to help answer website visitors’ questions.
- Facilitating virtual campus tours and open houses.
- Creating a seamless experience to book an appointment with an academic recruitment specialist.
Of course, the big question is, how do you capture such frenzied attention in the first place? The answer: Content.
Hungry for Conversions? Your Content Strategy Needs to Divide Into Meals and Snacks.
To drive conversions in today’s digitally dominated world, you have to consider all of those different touchpoints and how to make them engaging — no matter where your prospect lands.
The best way to do this? Craft a cohesive content strategy that spans your website and digital channels.
To get your content strategy flowing, think of breaking up your content into meals and snacks.
Your meals are your bigger pieces of content that live on your website, such as substantial student testimonials or videos highlighting student groups.
Then, those pieces of content get broken down into snacks, smaller pieces, to fit contextually different platforms.
For example, if you are filming a larger piece about residents to entice your prospective students, you could simultaneously capture TikTok content that could be rolled out on a paid ad platform as well. This way, your content is engaging and cohesive with your brand’s fingerprints all over it.
When you’re mapping out your content strategy, think through it in a way that’s contextually relevant to how your prospects consume content now. What are they looking for when they’re researching your institution? What stories will they connect with, and what student experiences will resonate with them?
What better way to intrigue prospective students than through actual organic content that one of your current students (with a large audience) produces?
More and more you may find opportunities for brand ambassadors or members of the student body that proudly identify with your brand, producing content far more effective than through paid ads from the university itself.
Use the resources you already have (your students) to get more of them.
In the heat of competition, your institution has a choice: Embrace the digital world that Gen Z lives by and build a synergistic web and digital marketing presence. Or stay on the sidelines with disconnected, obsolete digital efforts.
Will you rise to the challenge or get voted off the island?