Testimonials are some of the most effective tools in your marketing arsenal. With graduation coming up, it is a perfect moment to get a range of testimonials you can use immediately and store in your archive for future marketing efforts.
With the enrollment pool shrinking, getting a variety of student testimonials to use in your communications is vital to support your recruitment efforts. Prospective students can genuinely relate to students who have been through your programs, and college testimonials help them envision themselves as members of your next enrolled class.
How to Collect Student Testimonials
Marketing surveys have found that 92% of customers read reviews before purchasing, which is likely incredibly true for students making the big college decision. In addition, websites with. Testimonials get 45% more traffic, so consider including student recommendations on most of your website pages.
There is no one way to do it, so design your strategy for collecting testimonials with your end results in mind. All schools will be looking to compete for the shrinking pool of prospective students, so you must focus on highlighting the unique qualities and programs most likely to differentiate you from other schools.
Consider your goals and ask yourself some questions as you decide where to spend your energy gathering testimonials. For example, are you seeking more potential computer science majors? Is your new campus sports center a great asset that will attract students? Do you want to target adult students for your graduate programs?
Here are some possible methods to gather testimonials during graduation:
- Send out surveys: With emailed surveys, you can collect both statistical data, such as how many graduating seniors would recommend the school/program, and written testimonials in text boxes. Make sure to word your surveys so that you have great results to share about things that you feel make your college memorable. As with all surveys, make it short. And offer a chance to win something, like a restaurant gift certificate, so students can celebrate their achievements.
- Make a social media challenge: Design a fun, creative social media challenge with the “best” testimonials receiving a prize. Ask students to recall the most fantastic day of their whole college experience, list the three most important things they learned about themselves at college, create a tribute to their favorite teacher, or describe their opinion of the school in 10 words.
- Set up a table at graduation events: You can collect video or written testimonials from graduates and their families during the social time around graduation. Consider giving away college swag in exchange for testimonials, and if you get written recommendations, make sure to get a photo of the individuals if possible.
- Hire a professional videographer: Send them out to mingle and offer free graduation photos sent to the student after the ceremony. A professional can capture crisp videos of the excitement people feel during the ceremony, plus those cool caps and gowns. They may also get some proud parents who can speak to what a great experience it was for their kids.
- Involve the faculty: For more program-specific feedback, ask key faculty members to get testimonials from their graduating students. Professors already have a relationship with the students, and instructors are motivated to get testimonials to keep their departments’ enrollment numbers up.
The excitement of graduation has the drama and energy that can create some scintillating testimonials. However, for more carefully thought-out testimonials, find a quieter time before or after the events during graduation week. This article focuses on getting testimonials around graduation time, but these techniques could also work in other situations.
Best Practices for Getting Quality Testimonials
With some creativity and analysis, you can strategize how to capture testimonials from students, parents, and alumni. But you also want to ensure that you get the best quality. Here are some tips:
- Provide targeted prompts that will stimulate students to think of colorful answers. Remember to avoid questions/prompts with a yes/no or short answer. Make sure you ask what prospective students need to know, such as whether the faculty was supportive, what they learned, their impressions of the campus environment, etc. Ask questions that elicit passion. Remind students of how they felt when they started school, and contrast that with where they are today.
- Make sure to get permission to use the words, likeness, video, and biographic data for students. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment. For your records, a quickly written permission approved by your legal team is easier to manage, but on-camera video permission is sometimes easier to get.
- Give clear guidance for students so you get what you need. If you want students to make videos, give them clear instructions and tips on how to get the best video. For instance, “Make sure that we can see your whole face, that it is well-lit, and that we can hear you clearly.” For written testimonials, you might direct them to use “I” statements and talk about their own experience.
- Review the testimonials before they are posted. Written reviews can be edited lightly for clarity and brevity, but never take things out of context. You may need to edit videos if they are too long as well. For social media contests, have the posts sent directly to you for approval before they enter the competition—that way, you can limit the possible inappropriate content.
Whatever your method, whatever your goals, make sure to capture as much suitable material as possible during the exciting graduation season. Your future self will thank you when you have fantastic testimonials to add to your web pages, emails, social media feeds, and SMS campaigns.
To get help with strategies for leveraging the power of your testimonials in your enrollment marketing, don’t hesitate to contact us.