Top 6 higher education lead generation strategies
Higher education marketing strategies are evolving. You will have noticed that more traditional marketing campaigns (such as brochures, leaflets, and face-to-face events) are fading into the background behind digital strategies.
The truth is that Gen Z has a shorter attention span than the average Millennial, and the digital sphere is responsible. You know that future students are looking for personalised, concise, and above all, online connections. So, how do you capture their attention?
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation, the phrase that is buzzing around every higher education marketing team. If you are part of the world of student recruitment, you will have heard of the benefits of a solid lead-generation strategy. But what exactly is it?
It is a marketing process that involves identifying and targeting potential customers. In the world of higher education institutions, lead generation centres around future students, i.e. the target audience.
What is a Lead Generation Funnel?
A marketing funnel is a symbolic, visual representation of the marketing strategies that teams put in place to engage with prospects. It is depicted as a funnel that has a wide mouth at the top and a narrow mouth at the bottom.
A marketing funnel can focus on anything, but a lead generation funnel focuses on engaging with new prospects.
This is a typical marketing funnel.
- Create key strategies that focus on attracting new prospects
- Develop marketing materials
- Push your efforts via marketing campaigns
A wide pool of prospective students enter the mouth of the funnel, and only a few come out the other end and are 'converted' to your cause.
Is Higher Education Lead Generation a Good Idea?
It is normal for higher education institutions to utilise lead-generation tactics. Even the top universities are vying for student leads, which means that developing a robust marketing strategy is more important than ever. After all, if you have a steady stream of prospective students, you are bound to secure a few.
Effective Higher Education Lead Generation Strategies
So, what can an institution do to generate leads?
We have compiled a list of the top six tactics that engage prospective students. If you are working on lead generation for universities, keep reading.
Capturing leads has never been harder, especially in the modern digital world. If your lead generation strategy does not include virtual events, you are doing it wrong.
The typical student spends:
- 1 - 4 hours a day online on homework and research
- 1 - 2 hours a day online streaming videos
- 1 - 2 hours a day on social media
- 1 - 2 hours a day on other online activities
These findings suggest that student leads prefer to learn information online and that they feel comfortable in digital spaces.
Virtual tours, vlogs, and Q&A sessions appeal to international students and students that do not have the time, money, or means to travel. Prospective students who are neurodivergent and those who suffer from anxiety may struggle to meet face-to-face at in-person events. Virtual events are a great tool for higher education institutions that want to meet with prospective students on comfortable ground.
In 2020, INTO University Partnerships embraced the transition from in-person to online events by integrating our platform into its website. Once the iframe was in place, INTO created and executed a range of virtual events to attract new leads. Representatives from INTO engaged with 400 students at just two international virtual recruitment fairs, and a total of 600 students engaged with all the virtual events in just three months!
Downloadable Content and Gated Content
To improve lead generation, you need to encourage student leads to part with their information. Potential students can spot paid media from a mile away, so it is always better to create engaging content. Downloadable content usually takes the form of guides, manuals, and FAQs. In other words, downloadables are virtual versions of a prospectus but are usually far more concise. Student leads appreciate valuable resources, especially if they answer pressing questions.
One way to boost the potential of a downloadable is to turn it into gated content. Gated content is content that prospective students can unlock by sharing their contact details. The more sign-ups, the more leads.
Lots of higher education lead-generation strategies focus on email marketing, so it is a good idea to ask for an email address on the sign-up form. You should also ask for a full first name and surname, which will help you create a personalised experience when you reach out to your lead.
Here are some of the other pieces of information you could ask for.
- Favourite subject
Once you have all the relevant information, you can embark on a tailored email marketing strategy that is bound to capture the attention of qualified leads.
Personalised Email Marketing Campaigns
Did you know that 49% of Gen Z are willing to provide their personal information if it means they will receive a more personalised experience? Personalisation is an important part of higher education lead-generation strategies.
Of course, it is difficult to provide students with a personalised experience at the lead generation stage. Marketing teams usually implement this tactic a bit further down the line, once they have gathered information from gated content.
If you have a pool of students who have given you their information, the sky is the limit! You can send personalised emails that include links to specific courses, ambassadors, and content.
Here is a good example.
Hey [Name here]!We know that you are interested in data analytics, so why not check out our course? If you want to learn more about the life of a data analytics student, watch this vlog by Daniel, one of our current third-year analytics students.Do you want to speak to Daniel directly? Just visit our website and use the Chat function.As you can see, this email is short, snappy, and concise. Despite being less than 350 characters, it is personalised and includes three different ways for the recipient to continue their journey into your marketing funnel.
Use Peer-to-Peer Marketing
In a recent survey, Ellucian concluded that 'an emotional connection to one's institution is important as it improves long-term student loyalty and future giving.' It goes on to say that the best way for institutions to foster this connection is by encouraging prospects to make friends and connect with fellow students.
When it comes to lead generation for universities, peer-to-peer marketing is an invaluable resource. Lots of universities employ student ambassadors to create a personalised experience for future students. They have first-hand experience and can relate to potential students on a personal level.
By creating a means for peer-to-peer interaction, you can generate leads. The University of Sheffield discovered this in 2018 when it integrated The Ambassador Platform into its website to drive a clearing campaign. It sent out a mass email informing clearing students about the new Chat function on the website and soon saw amazing results. 808 messages were exchanged between student ambassadors and students from 19 different countries and five continents. The Chat campaign resulted in a 25% lead-to-enrollment rate.
Students love the ability to speak one-on-one to their peers, so you need to tell them that the service is available! Send out emails, post social media reels, and write about it in your bio. You could even include a QR code that takes students straight to the Chat feature on brochures, leaflets, and letters.
Invest in Video Marketing
Video marketing is one of the often-overlooked aspects of lead generation. Higher education institutions can make much more of an impact on prospective students with video content than written content. In fact, viewers retain 95% of a message that they watch in a video, which is in stark contrast to the 10% that they retain from reading.
Like many strategies, lead generation strategies work best when they are informed by a range of statistics. We know that videos are more engaging than written content, and that prospective students form better connections with higher education institutions when they develop relationships with fellow students. By employing student ambassadors to create FAQs, vlogs, and campus tours, you can capture the attention of new leads.
Once you have created video marketing materials, you can promote them on your social media sites and embed them on your website. You can even embed videos onto your landing page. This is a particularly effective way of attracting international students, who may be worried about feeling alienated on your campus.
Whether you promote your video on social media or your website, you need to include information and links that nudge prospective students in the right direction. For example, you might post an Instagram reel with the caption, 'Speak 1-on-1 with our student ambassadors via the Chat function, link in bio'. This kind of cross-medium marketing creates a trail that draws interested students into your marketing funnel.
Well-Researched SEO Strategy
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving your website so that search engines recognise it as a valuable resource. You can do this in a number of ways, but one of the most popular is keyword research. By discovering what questions and phrases your target audience is inputting into search engines, you can 'capture' keywords and boost organic traffic. Organic traffic is the digital footfall that you create by targeting the right keywords and ranking high in search results.
This is a great way to engage with new students, build awareness for your institution, and meet your enrollment goals.
Keyword research can be time-consuming, but it yields brilliant results. As well as location-specific keywords like 'university in New York', you can target specific programs with keywords like 'best university for performing arts'. This way, you can attract the right prospects and gain gold-standard students.
SEO is also a brilliant way to engage with new audiences. You can capitalise on the popularity of long-form search terms like 'what university should I go to' to create a blog post about the benefits of your institution. Over time, search engines like Google will recognise your engaging, audience-led content, and catapult you to the first page. Only 0.63% of people click on the second page of Google's search results, so it is important to have a robust SEO strategy in place.
The Ambassador Platform Makes Lead Generation Easier Than Ever
The Ambassador Platform is an all-in-one platform that streamlines student lead-generation strategies. It is the perfect tool for lead generation for universities. When our iframe is installed on your site, you can use our tools and widgets to create, analyse, and improve your strategy. Higher education lead generation has never been easier.
Book a demo to learn more about the best platform for lead generation strategies.