3 Digital Marketing Tips to Impact Application Numbers and Make This Season a Little Less Scary

Carnegie Higher Ed Oct 29, 2019 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

What’s spookier than ghosts and goblins this October? Ask any enrollment professional that question and I guarantee their answer would be the year-over-year application numbers report. With Early Action and Early Decision deadlines fast approaching, it can feel like the YoY numbers report is waiting in the shadows to jump out and shout “BOO!” at any moment.

This is the season of hustle; admission teams are furiously visiting high schools, standing for hours on end at college fairs, and answering hundreds of emails from students and parents. So how can you use digital marketing to keep the application number scaries away this Halloween?

Showcase the “Why”

At this point, your senior inquiry lists have received multiple emails on your application deadlines and process. While those pieces are incredibly important in relaying key information on the process, digital marketing can be an easy way to illustrate the “why.” Instagram and Snapchat are two of the many social platforms that allow for list-based targeting, which means you can reach students on your senior inquiry list directly with videos that showcase your campus, incorporate current student stories, and even answer frequently asked questions. These don’t have to be big production lifts—in fact, the more raw and authentic your videos are on Instagram and Snapchat, the better they tend to perform. Not to mention, students are hungry for your content on these platforms. In a recent survey, high school students told us:

 “As helpful as watching informative videos and reading informative articles is, the Instagram posts I see give me a little snapshot into what life would be like for me. It gives me a chance to see if I could thrive as a student and as a person at your school.” – Current High School Student

“Watching Instagram takeovers by current students gave me a better idea of what life at the school is like.” – Senior

Watching the Snapchat material for ABC U made me like the school more because of the student testimonials, and what they like to do around town.” 

Another perk from running paid content on either of these platforms is that students and parents will be more likely to follow your University-run pages, which means they will see more of your content in their newsfeeds on a daily basis.

Connect With Prospective Students’ Parents

Sending mailers directly to parents of high school students and engaging with them during on-campus visits are two truly impactful ways to connect with your prospective students’ parents, but digital marketing can aid these efforts as a simple way to stay in front of them. By utilizing IP Targeting, you’re able to serve Display ads to prospective students and their families based on their home IP address.

In addition to the emails you’re sending and the postcard that parents might have hanging on the refrigerator, IP Targeting ensures there will be a visual reminder of your important deadlines, scholarship information, and open houses. It’s also an easy way to cater the message specifically to seniors and their families since you can be sure your messaging is only going to the list you choose.

One other huge benefit to IP Targeting is the ability to control the page you’re leading students to from your ads. They won’t have to navigate to the apply page from your home page—they can be sent directly to the content right from your ad.

Put Yourself in Your Prospective Students’ Shoes

How many clicks from your home page does it take to get to your application?

What happens when you search “[Your School Name] application deadline” in Google?

How do your financial aid pages look on mobile?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you could be missing a huge opportunity with interested high school seniors. A high school junior recently shared with us:

Any college that does not make it easy to find the cost of attendance, I give up on, because that’s what truly matters (after I know they have my major). I like the facts.”

This student’s feelings on the matter are not unique. High school juniors and seniors are inundated with college and university content each and every day—so when they have a straightforward question, institutions have mere seconds to provide the answer. The easiest way to get a handle on what a student’s user experience is on your website is to run through as if you were a prospective student yourself. Students are going to turn to Google before they use your on-site search function, so start there and document what you find. 

Some questions to think about:

Is Google sending prospects to the correct application page?

How does the application page look on a mobile device?

Are any of the links broken or do they have outdated information?

Small content and navigation updates can have a huge impact on a student’s experience during such a pivotal time.

Don’t Be Afraid! Digital Marketing Can Shoo the Scaries Away

We hope these tips to boost application numbers are helpful during this stressful (and scary) time of year! At Carnegie Dartlet, digital marketing is one of our favorite treats. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for examples of these strategies and how colleges and universities across the country are using them to impact their fall 2020 classes. If it were up to us, the only thing you’d have to worry about this Halloween is eating too much candy. 

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