E-mail and Online and Print . . . Oh My!

Carnegie Higher Ed Oct 16, 2013 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Modern recruitment of college-bound students is much like trying to get Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz (stay with me here). Only instead of sending them to the Emerald City, you are directing students down the recruitment funnel.

There was a reason the munchkins kept repeating, “Follow the yellow brick road.” Obviously Dorothy was directionally challenged (having just flown through a tornado and all), and even though the only road out of town was brick—and bright yellow—she needed some guidance. College-bound students are like Dorothy in that they need reminders about your school and sometimes even that “push” down the proverbial brick road toward recruitment. But how do you get your message to students again and again so you are always in the back of their mind, and how many “touch points” does it take before a student will interact with you?

In this era of increasing stealth applicants, it is crucial to stay in front of students throughout the recruitment process. A well thought out communication plan will incorporate multiple touch points, using a variety of mediums to reach prospective students where and when they are searching for information. For instance, Private Colleges & Universities and Public Colleges & Universities are multi-platform recruitment services that use a mix of print, e-mail, and an online presence to reach your target audience—the perfect mix of traditional and digital recruitment marketing, and one of the most cost-effective tools available to schools.

PC&U (as it is commonly referred to) allows schools to highlight their institution via advertorial in a magazine sent direct to students during their junior year of high school. The magazine not only highlights the participating schools but contains valuable articles geared towards the students and parents. PC&U also reaches students with biweekly e-mails starting their sophomore year and continuing throughout their senior year, until they opt out or register online. Each participating school also has a full profile on CollegeXpress.com, where students (and parents) can research colleges, search for scholarships, take virtual tours, link to university websites, request information, and much more.

Print, e-mail, online: leads generated from any of these mediums are sent to the schools each week to continue the conversation.

Most schools still do traditional Search, and whether internal or through an outside vendor, it is just one more way of contacting students at home. But when you add a service such as Online Display, you then reach those students online, wherever they spend their time . . . driving them back to your website. Once they come back to your site you can use Retargeting to push display ads on the websites they visit afterwards. And did you know you could target prospective students on such precise, strategic criteria as academic level, majors of interest, or even IP address?!

Of course, the most important part in this whole process is having a clear, concise call to action in any communication. This also includes custom landing pages for online campaigns or personal URLs (PURLs) in your direct marketing. The purpose is always the same: get their attention, draw them in, and get them to give you their information. BOOM! They are in your enrollment funnel! Now when we mix in call campaigns, billboards, strategic e-mail campaigns, and radio or TV, the list of touch points gets longer and longer!

You don’t just want to reach prospective students; you want to develop a recognizable brand so that once they do find you, they start to see you everywhere. Did you ever notice how when you buy a new car, you start to see that same model everywhere? It’s because you have become familiar with that brand and you are more aware of that model, so you start to recognize it . . . everywhere. This will happen with students too! By creating multiple touch points with them you become the vehicle they see everywhere, and your ads, articles, e-mails, calls, etc. are little reminders to check you out. If Dorothy had all those reminders, she would’ve found her way to the Emerald City much faster.

Need help building a yellow-brick road for your school? Contact us today and let us help you pave the way!

You can follow me on Twitter @JLawnchair or on Google Plus as Jennifer Lonchar.

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