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Nov 15, 2023 BY Alicia Ritchey Marketing

Strategic Enrollment Marketing: Six Strategies for Success

Mighty Insights

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If you’re part of a higher education institution, you’re likely well aware that the competition for student enrollment is about to get much more dire. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected marketing practices in higher education, further complicating the challenges posed by the “enrollment cliff,” a decline caused by a drop in birth rates during the Great Recession. The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of marketing in higher education and pushed institutions to be more innovative, flexible, and student-centered. Furthermore, the financial impact of the pandemic on families left students questioning the value of a traditional four-year degree. As a result, while the official date for the enrollment cliff is set for 2025, admissions offices are already feeling the pinch and the growing pressure to change their marketing practices.

In our work with higher education clients, there’s an emerging trend to invest in strategic marketing solutions and technology to compete for the shrinking pool of students. In short—the way of the old enrollment marketing funnel just isn’t going to cut it. Many schools have adapted elements of strategic enrollment marketing, a forward-thinking marketing approach that turns the traditional marketing funnel on its head. Whether you’ve been implementing strategic enrollment marketing for years, or if you’re just getting started, here are six ways to make your enrollment strategy more competitive:

1) Data Analytics

Data forms the foundation of strategic enrollment marketing. Institutions should collect and analyze data on student demographics, preferences, and behavior to develop a comprehensive understanding of their target audience. This data-driven approach allows for tailored marketing efforts. Beyond collecting data, successful institutions are those that can weave this information into a compelling narrative. It’s about transforming numbers and trends into actionable insights that inform not just marketing strategies but also program development and student services. Predictive analytics can help anticipate student needs and behaviors, creating opportunities for timely interventions and enhanced student experiences.

2) Personalization

One-size-fits-all marketing is no longer effective. Students want personalized experiences that address their unique needs and concerns. Use data to craft personalized messages and ensure each interaction resonates with the individual. Effective personalization extends beyond addressing a student by their name in an email. It involves creating a student journey that’s reflective of their academic interests, extracurricular passions, and career aspirations. This might mean customized digital campus tours, personalized program recommendations, or even tailored financial aid packages. It’s about making every student feel like your institution is the perfect fit for them. This is how you make them feel seen.

3) Targeted Messaging

Knowing your audience isn’t enough—you must communicate effectively. Create messaging that highlights your institution’s unique strengths, programs, and values while addressing the specific concerns of its targeted demographic. For instance, if one of your target audiences is “45+ year-olds who are stuck in middle management,” then you’d speak to that particular challenge—e.g., “You want the second half of your career to be spectacular. We make spectacular happen.”

Effective messaging speaks directly to the heart of students’ aspirations, fears, and dreams. It’s about storytelling that showcases real student success and faculty expertise. This strategy should embrace the diversity of your student body and the uniqueness of their journeys, ensuring that every piece of communication feels genuine and relatable.

4) Omnichannel Approach

Today’s students engage with institutions through various channels, including social media, email, websites, and more. A successful strategy includes an omnichannel approach to ensure consistent and compelling messaging across all touchpoints.

Here, consistency is key. Whether a prospective student interacts with your institution on Instagram, receives an SMS, or visits your website, the message, tone, and branding should remain cohesive. Strive to create a seamless user experience that reinforces your institution’s values and commitment to its students at every touchpoint.

5) Collaboration

Foster collaboration between academic and marketing departments to ensure enrollment goals align with the institution’s mission and educational offerings. Break down any barriers that may inhibit communications and marketing efforts from being consistent across the entire student journey. Strive for a culture that promotes continuity of care—from the first student interaction throughout (and beyond) their experience. Create cross-departmental teams that work together to support the student lifecycle, ensuring that marketing messages aren’t just promises, but realities reflected in the academic and social fabric of the institution.

The only constant in the world of enrollment marketing is change.

6) Continuous Improvement

This isn’t a set-it-and-forget situation. Regularly assess the effectiveness of your enrollment marketing strategies through data analysis and feedback. Adapt and refine your approach to meet the changing needs of your audience. The only constant in the world of enrollment marketing is change. Regularly revisiting strategies, analyzing outcomes, and incorporating feedback is crucial. This might involve A/B testing of marketing campaigns, student focus groups to understand changing preferences, or staying abreast of emerging trends in higher education.

Mighty Citizen Can Help

With many institutions competing for a dwindling student base, traditional marketing practices will fall short. By adopting strategic enrollment marketing, institutions will not only attract the right students but also ensure a more fulfilling and successful educational experience.

At Mighty Citizen, we don’t just offer solutions—we partner with you to create a custom strategy that’s aligned with your university’s unique challenges and opportunities. And we understand that the journey doesn’t end at enrollment. It’s about fostering a sense of belonging and success that lasts well beyond graduation. Our experience in guiding schools through the complex landscape they face can make a significant difference. Interested in partnering with us? Reach out—we’d love to chat.

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