Digital communication has changed how we communicate with prospective students, and our communication strategies have become ever more critical as we navigate the rapidly changing higher education marketplace. Take a moment to see where you can take it up a notch and cut through all the noise to reach students. Here are some reminders of best practices to help you assess your current communications:
- Be Proactive
Make sure to reach out to your prospects regularly with relevant, timely information. With current predictive analytics tools, you likely know what questions may come next for students on their journey through the application process. So reach out with the information. Or query them on where they are in their own process. Make sure to track all your different communications to gauge what contact to initiate next. But don’t overwhelm them—pace your communications effectively.
- Be Authentic
Gen Z knows when they are being marketed to, so don’t think you can pull the wool over their eyes. Be transparent and honest in your communications, articulating your interest in having them engage with your school, staying in conversation with them, and answering their questions. Be open about what you know and don’t know. If you emphasize the value of an education, use reliable information rather than over-the-top promises. Share the characteristics and personality of your institution, but don’t get too pushy or too sales-y.
- Make it Personal
Making an authentic connection with students is paramount. Use up-to-date tools to personalize your interactions, ensuring your outreach makes sense for the target prospect. Not every target is in the same place, and you can get a better idea of what to say and when to say it through analysis. For example, make sure that a student interested in engineering doesn’t get the email or ad that boasts about your music program. Tracking communications with prospective students allows you to keep a consistent conversation that follows logically from one contact to the next.
- Spread the Message Across Channels
In today’s fragmented digital culture, many channels exist to connect with prospects. And it would be best if you used them all. Social media, texts, online ads, email, direct mail, phone, and live events: all are important. Each prospect has individual information consumption patterns, and you need to be on the channels they follow. Over time, you will be using multiple channels for each candidate, but you need to provide a unified experience of your school. For insight into the best channels for marketing, please download our white paper on student communication.
- Don’t Forget the Parents
When personalizing your messages, don’t leave parents, who are especially important early in the process. Parents of Gen Z tend to be older than previous generations, as many had kids at later ages. As a result, their social media habits will differ from their kids’, but you will also need to use multiple channels to reach them.
- Shorter is Better
Short attention spans are the norm, so get right to the point. Grab their attention, give them the information, and let them move on to the next thing. Most communications are in shorter bursts with a clear intent these days. Think about text and social media—just a quick interaction. And yes, it may seem fragmented, but if you integrate all your communications channels, consistency will be there to make it all come together for the prospective student.
- Follow Through
Your communication with a student is a conversation, but it may take place over many different channels and over the course of weeks and months. An organized strategy will help you to follow through with each prospect so that the subsequent communication meets them where they are and helps advance your interaction.