Online Marketing Ideas to Increase College Enrollment
What’s the best way to increase enrollment in your college or higher education institution? In this era, online marketing has become a proven way to reach more potential students and their families who are searching the Internet for information and education.
In today's fast-paced digital world, it's especially lucrative and important to increase online enrollment of students. Let’s explore how to increase enrollment in college through the use of some Internet marketing methods like social media, content marketing, and search engine optimization.
Why Online Marketing is the Best Way to Increase Enrollment
Many colleges and higher education institutions used to rely on conventional marketing methods like direct mailings, television and radio commercials, and billboards to reach potential students or their families. However, as time goes on and consumers begin to change the way they find information, these methods are losing their effectiveness. Instead, all of the best college marketing ideas are now oriented online.
According to the 2015 E-Expectations Report, almost 80% of all polled high school juniors and seniors reported that a college website influenced their perception of the institution in question. This statistic saw an 11% increase from 2014-2015 alone, which clearly demonstrates how the college enrollment process is evolving.
Here are a few more statistics from the same report, if you’re still not convinced (percentages refer to the pool of 3,000+ high school juniors and seniors that were polled):
- 58% of seniors and 71% of juniors reported that a college’s website is their first stop when looking up information about an institution
- 80% of seniors and 77% of juniors ranked a college’s website as either the first or second most important resource when researching colleges
- 60% of seniors and 55% of juniors were more likely to consider institutions that utilized email, text, and social media to communicate
As consumers increasingly turn to the Internet to learn about higher education institutions, these institutions must also be there with them. If not, they will have difficulty increasing their enrollment rates, because they will not have a strong enough online presence to inform and educate those who are interested in locating a college. Increasing enrollment in general is important, but you can also increase online enrollment and answer general questions about your school more reliably via the Internet than traditional media.
Online marketing is also far less expensive, and typically has a higher ROI, than traditional marketing methods. This is why the Internet is the best way to both reach consumers and convince them to learn more about your school.
Marketing Ideas to Increase Enrollment Rates
Here is how to increase enrollment in college and higher education institutions through the use of online marketing. These tips and ideas should give you a head start on improving your reach and encouraging more potential students to contact you about your college.
Increase Your College Website’s Visibility with SEO
Search engine optimization, commonly abbreviated as SEO, is the cornerstone of any good online marketing plan. SEO involves making several improvements to your college’s website that increase its visibility in search engines, and for the words and phrases that potential students closely associate with your site.
For example, let’s say your college is located in Texas. If you want your website to show up on the first page when someone searches Google for “Texas college” or “college in Texas,” you could use SEO methods to make your site more likely to appear. You could do so by including these targeted words or phrases in your page titles, on your homepage copy, or in copy on other pages.
SEO also involves improving your website’s authority, which is a crucial component of your ranking on search engines. One of the ways you can do this is by acquiring links to your website from partners, local companies, and other sites. The more high quality links you have, the better your site will rank. This strategy has an immense potential to grow and passively attract visitors to your school, making it one of the most effective college marketing ideas available.
SEO is especially important for colleges. The previously referenced 2015 E-Expectations Report also found that 86% of polled high school seniors and 89% of polled high school juniors found college websites through the use of search engines. This is an enormous opportunity to miss out on, and search engine use is only going to increase.
Increase Traffic with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Looking to quickly increase traffic to your school’s website? Pay-per-click (PPC) could be a great option for you.
With PPC advertising, you can choose which keywords and phrases you want to trigger your advertisements. For example, you can set your ads to display when people search for “colleges in California.”
Then, you can set a bid, and if it’s among the highest, your ads will display above organic search results.
One of the main benefits of PPC is that results are instantaneous, and you can reach a highly targeted audience. As soon as your ads are clicked to go live, they can start driving traffic to your website. So if you’re looking to quickly boost enrollment, PPC is a great way to increase awareness of your school.
And you’ll only pay when people click on your ads. If nobody views your PPC advertisements, you won’t pay a cent.
Educate Potential Students and Their Families with Content Marketing
One way that you can also improve your website’s authority, reach more potential students, and educate those looking to learn more about higher education is through the use of content marketing. Content marketing consists of using articles, blog posts, infographics, videos, and other forms of content you produce to inform and educate those who may be interested in college.
Content marketing allows you to widen your audience by producing informative, helpful, and relevant content that attracts more people to your website. Although it may not directly result in new enrollments, it can introduce new people to your college, and eventually lead them to learning more about your institution.
For example, you may produce a piece of content to answer a question like “how much does college cost in Texas?” When students or their parents search for this question online, your content will come up and answer the question for them. With the question answered, the viewer may go on to read more of your website, learn about your college, and perhaps view pages of your site with enrollment or degree information.
Answer Questions and Start Discussions with Social Media Marketing
Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are great ways to connect with potential students, answer questions, and start discussions that can help increase your college enrollment rate.
As opposed to some traditional marketing methods that are designed to allow businesses to “broadcast” messages, social media allows for two way conversations. You can share articles or content relevant to your audience, ask questions, and respond to comments. Potential students may ask questions about your programs or campus, and you can answer them.
By interacting with more people on social media, you are making your college look responsive and interested in communicating with potential students. Using social media allows you to also connect with current students directly, hold discussions, and make important announcements about your campus or programs.
Engage Prospects with Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to increase applications.
You can encourage prospective students to sign up on your website to receive email updates. Then, you can follow up with targeted information based on their interests. For example, if someone signs up on a page about your sports teams, you can send emails that focus on your school’s athletic programs. Or if someone signs up on your communication department page, you can send more information about majors in the department.
As you nurture leads via email, you can encourage them to submit an application. This will help to keep your school at the top of places to apply.
Best of all, you can automate your email marketing. So after you write the emails and set up the system, you can sit back and watch the applications start to roll in.
Share Student Success Stories, Case Studies, and Quotes
Finally, one way that you can increase interest in your college is by adding case studies or success stories to your website. Typically used by businesses to show how their product or service has made a lasting impact on others, your institution can employ case studies to show how an education makes a lasting impact on the lives of students.
As a marketing method, success stories are often highly successful. They do require some research and time, and you may find that a dedicated section of your website may be necessary to properly present them. However, nothing may speak to a potential student’s family more than seeing the real results of an education at your institution—for example, the jobs obtained, the quotes spoken by those who have attended, or the lives changed.
If you are not able to collect detailed case studies or success stories from former students, you may want to consider collecting photos and quotes from current students who are happy with their education. These can be placed on either your homepage or a dedicated section of your website.
Creating a Cohesive Online Marketing Plan for Your College
Creating a strong, cohesive marketing plan for your college or higher education institution can be a challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the best practices in online marketing. The best way you can approach this is to take each component of your plan one step at a time, reading as much as you can about each method in advance.
If you need help increasing enrollment in your college using Internet marketing, or aren’t sure how to improve your website or reach more potential students, WebpageFX can help. As a full-service Internet marketing agency, we’ve helped more than 500 businesses meet their unique marketing goals and grow their ROI online.
Feel free to reach out to one of our expert web strategists for a custom quote on a full-service marketing package, SEO, or specialized plan. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Need help creating a strong marketing plan to increase enrollment in your college? Call 888.449.3239 or contact us online today to get a custom quote from one of WebpageFX's expert Internet marketers.