Boost Your Enrollment With These 4 Strategies for Higher Education Lead Generation

Leilani Bruce

Published on Dec 27, 2018
6 min read

Boost Your Enrollment With These 4 Strategies for Higher Education Lead Generation

Today’s students rely on the web to discover, evaluate, and choose their college or university. And they have high expectations about what they’ll find. They’re seeking an authentic, personalized experience before they even step on campus. Glossy viewbooks and billboards have their place, but as you’ve probably realized, there’s been a monumental shift in how people search for the perfect school.

To make your higher education marketing plan a success, you need to embrace the speed of change and find ways to stay ahead of the curve. To help you do that, we’ll dive into these four higher education lead generation strategies:

  • Social Media Lead Ads
  • Creating the Right Mix of Content
  • Integrating Chatbots
  • Segmenting & Personalizing Your Email List

Ready to amp up your enrollment marketing efforts? Let’s dig in.

1. Use Lead Ads on Social Media

You’re probably already using social media ads to drive leads. They’re an excellent way to target your audience and deliver customized content. According to Adobe’s State of Digital Advertising 2018 report, 50% of Gen Z (18-19 year olds) and 42% of millennials (20-36 year olds) think social media is the most relevant channel for ads.

But how can you improve your conversions? Lead ads are the answer. Let’s say a prospective student sees a Facebook ad for your degree program. Without using lead ads, they have to navigate away from Facebook and fill out the form on a separate webpage to get more information (which may or may not be mobile friendly). It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for a younger person on a smartphone, it can be an unexpected hassle, especially if the form requires a lot of information.

This is where lead ads come in. Offered by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now LinkedIn, lead ads make it easy for students to sign up for your offers directly within the social media platform. Plus, when a user clicks on a lead ad, it autofills any information already provided to the social media platform, such as name and email. The use of the autofill form creates a seamless experience, which improves conversion rates.

Lead ads increase conversions because of their user-friendliness. Potential students only have to click submit to send their contact information to Merrimack College.

2. Change Up Your Content Mix

As you well know, content is the driver of all lead generation efforts. According to Demand Metric, content marketing creates three times as many leads as traditional marketing strategies. But there’s a ton of content noise on the web. How do you rise above all the competition?

Instead of focusing on the topic, think about your demographic and what format would grab their attention. Something more interactive might align well with the younger generation’s preference for apps and mobile games. For example, quizzes are hot right now. Have you thought about using them to generate education leads? You could create a fun quiz about campus culture. Or a quiz that matches their interests to your degree programs, as Eastern International College did. It would be easy to reuse content you already have.

Intrigued? Check out Interact. This tool for creating online quizzes has worked with 55,000 companies in the last five years to create quizzes generating more than 8,000,000 leads. So it’s clearly working across many industries. Their tool can be embedded on your website or you can turn it into a Facebook ad using the Interact Quiz Maker platform. Interact also seamlessly adds new leads to your email marketing software. Plus, when someone finishes a quiz, you can send them to your own landing page along with any tracking scripts you might need.

Boost Your Enrollment with These 4 Strategies for Higher Education Lead Generation

Eastern International College created a quiz for website visitors to see how their interests matched up with their degree programs. They use the results from the quiz to make their follow-up more customized.

3. Integrate Chatbots into Your Website

In a recent Gallup study, 68% of Millennials said that digital messaging is their primary source of communication. Yet for many universities, phone calls and emails are still a primary source of contact with prospective students.

The majority of your target market consists of mobile-oriented millennials. Chatbots offer a great opportunity to meet their expectations. Building chatbots give university websites the same advantages as successful e-commerce sites. Prospective applicants can interact with them 24/7, get helpful and accurate information about programs and courses, and useful guidance throughout their application process.

With chatbots growing rapidly in popularity, there are many apps entering the marketplace. In fact, there are some designed specifically for universities. For example, Virtual Spirits has templates for common student questions about enrollment and campus services to get you started. Jumping on the chatbot trend early will give your institution a clear differentiator as potential students consider your school.

Boost Your Enrollment with These 4 Strategies for Higher Education Lead Generation

Georgia State University partnered with AdmitHub, a Boston-based ed-tech startup, to create a virtual “campus coach.” This chatbot integrates conversational artificial intelligence (AI) with human expertise to guide students through the application process and beyond.

4. Segment Your Email List for Personalized Contact

No one wants to feel like they’re getting a form letter. And for a generation that’s grown up with increasingly sophisticated marketing, they’ve come to expect a bit of personalization. Generic or irrelevant email marketing could turn them off before they even set foot on campus.

You may already employ some level of segmentation, but for greater effectiveness, break up your list even more based on what they’ve done (or haven’t done). Have they requested information, but haven’t signed up for a tour? Create an email for that. Have they created an online account to apply, but haven’t submitted an application? Create an email for that. Your messages should speak as directly as possible to their current situation.

Of course, this requires a certain level of technology. You’ll need a way to capture the right information and identify the triggers that send personalized emails. Marketing automation tools like HubSpot and Marketo are a great place to start. They are the leaders in the industry and they have experience working with higher education clients.

Boost Your Enrollment with These 4 Strategies for Higher Education Lead Generation

Software like HubSpot allows you to create email workflows based on website visitor behavior, creating a customized experience for potential students, which increases lead conversions.

The most important goal for any educational institution is increasing enrollment. Within this competitive marketplace, you need to have the most effective higher education lead generation strategies to attract qualified students and meet your enrollment goals year after year.

Hopefully, these tips have sparked your creativity and will give your marketing department the edge. If you need help generating leads, Pacific54 can bring these and even more innovative ideas to your team. Contact us for a consultation.