3 Ways Higher-Education Marketing Can Influence Prospective Students

Marketing is a powerful science that allows institutions to communicate the key messages students and parents are seeking throughout the crucial decision-making process. Higher-education campaigns can be used to generate brand awareness, shape student’s perceptions, nurture leads, increase enrollment, and much more.

However, not all marketing campaigns are created equal. Some prove to be ineffective, often because they fail to resonate with the heart of student decision making. There’s one simple way to ensure a successful marketing campaign – as Simon Sinek said, it starts with why.

What factors determine which institution a student will choose?
A recent survey by Eduventures Research of more than 100,000 high-school seniors, found that affordability, academic reputation, potential career opportunities, program offerings and proximity to home all play pivotal roles in student decisions when choosing which institution to attend.

3 Ways Higher Ed Influences Students

How can higher-education marketing help institutions increase enrollment?
An effective messaging strategy communicates the key factors listed above and any other pertinent information that students and parents need to make an informed decision about an institution. Here are three ways an informed marketing strategy can influence student decision making:

  1. Brand Recognition and Perception

A 2023 study by Niche of 20,000 high-school seniors found that 96% of students indicated an institution’s brand or name recognition would influence their college decision. Effective marketing campaigns help to create a positive brand image by highlighting the institution’s strengths and unique features. Through carefully crafted messaging, colleges can highlight key features such as their innovation, inclusivity, and academic distinguishments, influencing how students perceive them and helping them to stand out in a highly competitive landscape.

  1. Digital Advertising

The 2023 E-Expectations Trend Report by Ruffalo Noel Levitz asserts that 63% of prospective students surveyed had clicked on a digital ad from an institution. Primary reasons for clicking included learning about a new institution they had not heard of before or learning something new about a known institution. Digital advertising serves as an invaluable medium in guiding students through their decision-making process by providing relevant information about the institution, establishing brand trust, generating leads, and more while creating a positive and informed perception that can significantly influence a prospective student’s choice of college.

  1. Social Media Strategy

In the same report, it was revealed that 74% of prospective students found an institution’s organic social media posts valuable sources of information. Content that resonated with students included posts highlighting student life, specific programs or majors, photos of the campus, and enrollment information and resources. In this increasingly digital day and age, a consistent, engaging, and trustworthy social media messaging strategy is more important than ever as a resource for students and a medium for college recruitment and brand positioning.

The role of marketing in influencing students’ decisions on which college to attend cannot be underestimated. From shaping perceptions through branding, to engaging with prospective students on social media, higher education institutions can employ various strategies to stand out in a highly competitive landscape. By understanding the impact of marketing and the why behind student decisions, institutions can effectively help students make informed decisions that align with their academic and personal goals while also increasing enrollment.