Get Your Search On: Four Tips for a Better Student Search

Carnegie Higher Ed Sep 03, 2013 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

It’s that time of year again: back to school. And this year’s high school seniors have one thing on their minds—applying to college. But is your college among their choices? If you are doing your Student Search right, it should be!

Student Search has been a long-standing staple of college marketing and recruitment plans, but as the marketing landscape has evolved, have your Search campaigns stayed in step? Today’s marketing communications must be data driven, have pinpoint relevancy, and be hyper-personalized with multi-channel implementation. If your campaign comes up short on any of these, you are surely missing out on viable prospective students.

Gone are the days of Student Search that is synonymous with high volume, unfocused, generic mass mailings. Instead your strategy should mirror today’s marketing evolution. Here’s how:

1.       Be data-driven

With so much data accessible, the greatest way to target your best prospective students is to make sure you have a firm understanding of who your current student is. Analyze your existing enrollment data to create student personas to identify the students most likely to apply at your school. Then overlay those student profiles when buying lists to ensure you are recruiting the best-fit prospective students for your institution.

2.       Be relevant

General mass mailings will not produce results. Today’s student is a savvier consumer than ever and is seeking information that specifically meets their interests. Leverage data from the purchased lists to tailor your communication to deliver the relevant content your prospect is seeking. Purchased lists are rich with information about a student’s college preferences and academic interests. Use that information to deliver relevant and personalized content.

3.       Get personal

Make sure your communication feels one-to-one and goes beyond just a simple first name personalization. Use technology like variable data printing, conditional logic e-mails, and personalized landing pages (PURLS) to deliver hyper-personalization seamlessly. These approaches allow you to easily (and cost effectively) versionize and personalize so you are delivering unique content that directly correlates to each prospect, which will ultimately yield better response.

4.       Be multi-channel

Your Student Search campaign must be holistic, using the best of both online and offline strategies to maximize your results. Integrate your direct mail and e-mail outreach by pushing prospects to a campaign-specific personalized landing page. As part of the campaign, include digital outreach and a Retargeting program that serves banner ads to your prospective audience after they visit your site. The technology of Retargeting is an excellent complement to any Student Search campaign. This will allow any student who opens the Search campaign e-mails or visits the PURL or any of the predetermined key webpages to receive future banner ads as part of the Retargeting campaign. Be sure you are segmenting the ads based on the page(s) they previously visited, which allows you to target the prospects with unique and relevant calls to action.

Student Search is alive and performing well for the schools that are able to optimize and integrate all the data, tools, and channels available. If you have questions or just want some advice on how to launch a better and fully integrated Student Search campaign, just let us know—we’d be happy to help you get your Search on!

You can follow me on Twitter @adpoulin or on Google Plus as Alexa Poulin.


Never miss an update.