Prospective students could be anyone — from students fresh out of high school looking for higher education institutions to full time workers who have thought about going back to school but aren’t actively looking. As a marketer for an educational institution, this wide array of “potential” students can leave you feeling like your marketing is going in 20 different directions.
But what if there was one unifying factor across all of these prospective student types? One factor that is proven to help students of all kinds make a decision about what school to attend.
You’re in luck because that factor is the on-campus visit. According to recent research from G/O Digital, 31 percent of students pursuing a variety of degree types (from four-year and graduate degrees to CCE courses and community school programs) said their on-campus visit was the most influential factor in deciding what school they would ultimately attend.
How do you leverage this for your institution? Let’s talk strategy:
Students don’t initially search for colleges and career schools with the intent of scheduling an on-campus visit. It’s a process that requires time and nurturing to get students thinking about and considering your educational institution.
Being present in the initial consideration phase starts with having a fully optimized search presence. Students primarily turn to search engines when looking for schools and programs, and you need to be sure your institution is showing up in those results with relevant program information. To do this, your school’s website should have a deep repository of content because any single page could be the top page in a relevant search results – not just your homepage. Additionally, once a student arrives your site needs to be easily navigable and clear about its offerings — in our study, 56 percent of respondents primarily wanted information about the program they were interested in once they made it to a school’s website.
The other side of search is search advertising, or PPC ads. Having search ads alongside organic search results will increase your site’s authority and visibility. And if those ads specifically mention programs the searcher is interested in, then they’re that much more likely to click on your institution.
Once a student enters your database or even visits your site, you have the opportunity to educate them further about your institution.
When it comes to your online database of prospective students, email follow-ups are the way to go. In the study, 75 percent of students said they preferred to be contacted by a school via email. Here, you can share relevant content about the program that student is interested in, and eventually invite them to come to campus for a visit.
Being able to email the student directly is great, but what if they visit your site and don’t enter their information? Then you deploy retargeting. Retargeting leaves a cookie in a user’s browser after they visit your website so they see ads across the internet about your institution. This will keep you top of mind for those students and is another opportunity to invite those students to campus to learn more.
This is an overview of how to market on-campus visits to students, but you will need to go more in-depth. Download our e-book, Engage Students and Drive Enrollments with an Integrated Marketing Approach, to get the full strategy for your educational institution.