What’s Trending for 2023 Enrollment Marketing

We know our incoming students are digital natives, but what else can we uncover to help us reach our potential students? I did a deep dive into “must have” marketing for Gen Z articles and narrowed the list to the most talked about tactics.

Strategy on top of marketing content becomes particularly important this time of year as we work towards wrapping up our 2023 class while also beginning to think of deploying recruiting efforts to our 2024 prospective students. Enrollment management is quite possibly the industry that invented the “ability to work in a fast-paced environment” requirement.  

Reach and Authenticity

A recent study by Unibuddy survey found that: “Flashy, big-budget marketing campaigns aren’t really appealing to Gen Z. Authenticity is much more important.” The benefit here is budget! Rather than deploying large, flashy campaigns, think reach and authenticity.  

It’s no surprise that our Gen Z digital natives want authenticity; they know how to research the internet and find their truths. Gen Z lives on their mobile phones and social media. In fact, 62% of screen time is spent on mobile. To shorten the list of trends, I’m eliminating authenticity and mobile-friendly ads from the top trends, as this is no longer simply “trendy” but here to stay.  

Now, beyond being mobile friendly and authentic, what efforts can you deploy to stay on trend? In no particular order: 

No. 1 – Include Video

Sixty-four percent of prospective students say that facilities and campus influenced their decision to enroll. But not all prospective students have an ability to visit. In fact, 11 percent of prospective students had to rely solely on virtual tours. By utilizing short or long videos you can showcase your campus and help prospective students envision campus life.  

No. 2 – Personalized Messaging

Again, not a new concept, but one that continues to stay at the top of marketing trends. As an era of prospective students that know nothing but perusing the web, a university that takes a one-size approach won’t jive with them. Today’s prospective students will compare and research dozens of colleges before clicking the “Apply” button. Colleges that stand out are those that personalize their communication, foster a relationship and nurture brand identity.  

No. 3 – Micro-Influencer Marketing

Marketing across all environments is finding that celebrity or “flashy” content is less successful than showcasing content from “real” people. The great news here is that, in the education environment, the best influencers are your current students, staff and alumni! As an example, if you search “University Life” on YouTube and filter by view count, the first pages of content are all created by “real” students or alumni sharing their authentic experiences. Think about ways to partner with your biggest influencers and let them grow your brand affinity.  

No. 4 – Getting Social and Creative

This age of prospective student as well as their parents are definitely using social media, making such platforms a great place to be seen. But you’ll also need to stand out. Showcasing your campus, events, and current students in your content allows prospects to envision themselves at your institution. Additionally, content from successful or prominent alumni speaks to envisioning their future beyond graduation.  

While researching, I came across a few campaigns I would have never thought of … and they sounded fun! For example, the University of Salford in Manchester, England, worked with a company called “Squiz” to start “Match Made at Salford,” which asks users to “swipe left” or “swipe right” when they are provided with personalized course recommendations, based on their grades, course, and career of interest. This helped convert 10,000 class registrations!  

No. 5 – ChatBots

Virtual chat assistants, or “chatbots,” are trending! Gen Z thrives on instant gratification as they’ve always had access to technology and quick search answers. In fact, chatbot usage has increased 92 percent over the last three years. This expectation of instant answers translates when they are searching multiple colleges at once. If your prospective student prefers to research colleges at 11 p.m. and has questions, quick answers from your website could be the difference in making their short list or not.  

In summary, prospective students are looking for authentic, transparent knowledge about your institution and what it offers. If you need some guidance on incorporating any of these trends, members of our team have experience and strategy to share. Simply ask! 

By Cat Hollands, Client Trainer, Capture Higher Ed