How to Use Advertising to Increase Enrollment for Higher Education Institutions
Colleges and universities are not only centers of learning, but in today's world, they are also businesses in their own right. As a business, one of the main goals for any higher education institution each year is to increase enrollment of new students and gain needed revenue as a result.
Of course, the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 was challenging for many universities, making the Fall enrollment period of 2021 even more important than previous years. If you want to boost your enrollment rate during the Fall, it's critical to start implementing effective advertising strategies right now. Let's talk about some tips that will contribute to your success.
First and foremost, it's vital for almost any business to advertise their product/service throughout the year; and the higher education sector is no different. High school graduates will take several months to decide which college they would like to attend in many cases. (Of course, this decision process may even start before they leave high school.) For this reason, year-round advertising is vital in terms of developing and maintaining top-of-mind awareness (TOMA).
It's especially vital to run ads at a higher frequency during the Spring when many students finalize their decisions about which university to attend come the fall. Nevertheless, year-round advertising is essential because students are not your only target audience. You also want your ads to capture the attention of parents, friends, schoolmates, and others who may have a strong influence on the student's ultimate decision.
You may be able to introduce your institution to students a long time before the competition does—meaning they'll be even more likely to enroll with your school. This is why you want to maintain a strong advertising presence throughout the year. The bottom line? Don't hit the pause button on your advertising; instead, keep it consistent all year long.
Paint a Picture of the Atmosphere
As you deploy your advertising campaigns for your higher education institution, one of your ad creative's primary goals should be to "paint a picture" of what it would be like to attend the university. Prospective students may have a lot of concerns about an institution's cultural fit. For example: "What will life be like on-campus? What clubs and extracurricular activities are available? How rigorous will the coursework be?"
The point is, you want to make it easy for a prospective student to envision what attendance at your institution will be like. You want to reassure students that they can be comfortable and fit into university culture.
One of the most powerful ways to deliver this type of message is through testimonials. Research indicates that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from their friends or family members. That same principle holds for reviews and testimonials around higher learning. Make sure to incorporate the positive experiences of former and current alumni into your ad creative. Their observations will not only help potential enrollees to more clearly imagine life on-campus; they will also make many students more comfortable with enrollment, period.
Make the Application Process Easy
Finally, it's essential to remove as much friction as possible from the application process from the outset—and your ads can play a vital role in this regard. You want to make it very clear where the student can enroll and how they can do it with a minimum of effort.
Why is this so important? In the business world, the amount of effort that the average customer has to put forth to buy a product or resolve an issue is a strong predictor of whether they'll continue to buy from the company in question or not. Again, the same principle applies to higher education. If your application process seems highly complicated and time-consuming, then you may scare away students who want a simple, easy enrollment experience.
Moreover, consumers in this demographic are likely being flooded with ads from colleges and universities across the United States. When your CTA (call-to-action) for applying is straightforward, reassuring, and persuasive, then you'll make a lasting impression on many students and their families.
Leverage Advertising to Increase Enrollment at Your Higher Education Institution
In summary, your institution needs to advertise year-round, paint a positive, accurate picture of life on campus, and reassure prospective students that the enrollment process will be a breeze. Suppose you can accomplish these goals with your advertising campaigns (with or without the help of an experienced media partner). In that case, you'll likely see a significant boost to your enrollment rates moving forward.
By leveraging effective ads, you'll be able to beat out your competitors, attract top-performing students to your school, and contribute to your institution's growth and sustainability at the same time.
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