In his 2016 book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, author Kevin Kelly coined a term that any higher ed enrollment manager and marketer might relate to: endless newbie.
“All of us — every one of us — will be endless newbies in the future simply trying to keep up,” Kelly writes. “Endless Newbie is the new default for everyone, no matter your age or experience. Now we know: We are, and will remain, perpetual newbies.”
So, while it’s admirable to try and stay ahead of what is trending in enrollment and marketing technology during this time of exponential change, you can take solace in your endless newbie-hood … and, of course, do your best to explore emerging technologies, platforms, and strategies while continuously adapting to changes in student preferences.
Here are 10 key trends to keep an eye on:
- Virtual and Augmented Reality: Some institutions are starting to utilize virtual and augmented reality technologies to create immersive experiences for prospective students. Virtual campus tours, interactive classrooms, and simulated experiences can help students get a feel for the institution and its offerings without physically visiting the campus.
- Online Presence and Digital Marketing: Establishing a strong online presence through a well-designed website, active social media profiles, and engaging content is not so much a trend but a necessity. Utilize digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising, and social media advertising to reach and attract potential students and their families.
- Data Analytics and Personalization: Obviously leveraging data analytics to gain insights into student preferences, behaviors, and interests is near and dear to Capture Higher Ed’s heart. Use this information to personalize recruitment efforts and deliver targeted messages to specific segments of prospective students. Personalization can improve engagement and increase the likelihood of conversion.
- Chatbots and AI-powered Assistants: Implementing chatbots and AI-powered assistants on university websites and other communication channels is gaining traction. This can provide instant support and answer common questions while enhancing the responsiveness of your recruitment process and providing personalized guidance to prospective students.
- Social Media and Influencer Marketing: Embracing social media platforms to connect with and engage prospective students is now an essential practice. Collaborate with influential individuals such as student ambassadors, hip faculty and staff, or popular influencers who can promote your institution and its programs to their followers. Authentic engagement and peer-to-peer recommendations can be powerful recruitment tools.
- Mobile Optimization: Again, not so much a trend as a best practice, you must ensure that your website and digital platforms are mobile-friendly and optimized for mobile devices. Many students rely heavily on their smartphones for researching and engaging with institutions, so providing a seamless mobile experience is essential.
- Online Events and Webinars: Organizing virtual events, webinars, and Q&A sessions to engage with prospective students from anywhere in the world is a practice that came into its own during quarantine. These events provide opportunities to highlight faculty, programs, and campus life, and allow for direct interaction with attendees.
- Gamification: Several institutions are introducing gamification elements into the recruitment process to make it more interactive and fun. Gamified assessments, quizzes, and challenges can capture students’ attention and provide a unique experience that sets your institution apart.
- Collaboration with EdTech Startups: Institutions are looking for some help! Keep an eye on emerging educational technology startups that offer innovative solutions in areas like recruitment marketing, online learning, skill development, and career preparation. Collaborating with these startups can help you stay at the forefront of educational trends and attract students looking for cutting-edge offerings.
- Continuous Feedback and Adaptation: Regularly collecting feedback from current and prospective students to understand their evolving preferences and expectations needs to be part of your recruitment marketing process. Use this feedback to refine your strategies and ensure that your institution remains relevant and appealing.
By embracing emerging technologies, exploring innovative strategies, and adapting to changing student preferences, your institution can stay ahead in the higher education recruitment landscape and attract the best-fit students.
By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Manager, Capture Higher Ed