University departments launch new programmes for a number of reasons; to keep up with the pace of change and innovation in their subject field, to replace a course that has lost its relevance or to make learning more flexible and accessible for students.
Image by Sergey Zolkin
After scoping out the course, making decisions about its content and assessments and, of course, sourcing people with the skills to deliver it, it’s important to start thinking about how you’re going to get it out there in front of prospective students.
The good news is, you already have what you need to create the content: you just need to know how to package and deliver it!
These high level tips should help you kickstart the student recruitment marketing process.
1. Know your audience and build personas
In the context of marketing, a persona is essentially a written profile depicting the “ideal” candidate for your course (there’s likely to be more than one, of course). Personas should be used as a starting point for all your marketing efforts.
But before you start creating your personas you need to do some research to find out what their motivations are, what makes them tick and where you can reach them.
Meet your prospects
Online research is obviously essential, but nothing beats face-to-face conversations. Universities admissions teams should encourage one to one conversations with prospects and provide valuable advice that will help the candidate make an informed decision. Universities should also organise events and webinars where candidates can meet with current students, faculty or even alumni.
Many candidates want information on the specifics of a course but also want to learn about what graduates went on to do career-wise.
Conduct keyword research based on your personas - find out what kind of things they’re searching for and the terms that they’re using in order to do so. Later on you can embed these words and phrases into your campaigns to make them relevant and searchable.
Find out what online platforms they use too - from visual channels like Instagram to professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. For example, if you’re marketing a new MBA programme, it’s likely that your audience uses LinkedIn as a networking tool.
2. Establish your messaging
After cultivating a comprehensive profile of your target audience, it’s time to use them to inform the creation of great content that'll capture people’s attention and encourage them to apply and enrol.
When launching a new programme, it’s important to give people context and highlight the programme's unique selling points. Also consider your institutions’ overarching message; you want to align the programme’s with this.
Language should be accessible and simple yet informed and, of course, accurate.
3. Craft content for every stage
Establishing a presence
To start, make a list of the SEO key words from your research. Create a dedicated landing page for the new course and think about where this will sit in the main site.
Creating new landing pages is fairly quick and easy to accomplish with an all-in-one software solution like FULL FABRIC.
Before kicking off any marketing, it’s worth considering whether you’ll run a PPC campaign. It can be expensive, especially if the key words you’re using are competitive, but if done properly can have a really positive impact on visibility and conversions.
Brainstorm ideas for potential blog posts, social media content and video based on your personas, key messages and key words. Don’t forget to think about how you’ll approach marketing your new programme from a PR perspective too.
The aim is to get prospective students to apply and enrol into the programme, so think about what content will convert visitors into leads, leads into applicants and applicants into enrolled students and ensure any call to actions (CTAs) are clear. For example, do you want them to “Download a prospectus”?; “Sign up to an open day”; “Start an application?”; "Enrol now!"
It’s also a good idea to establish an email nurture campaign to encourage interested parties to apply. Once you’ve captured a visitor’s data by getting them to submit their details in return for a programme brochure, for instance, you can start the process.
When it comes to email marketing, make sure you’re adding value and not spamming anyone with irrelevant information. To do this, you need to keep accurate information on where they are in the student journey. A solution like FULL FABRIC will enable you to personalise content based on your candidate's preferences, engagement level and interests.
Marketing your new programme in the right way will pique the interest of prospective students and enable you to compete on a global scale. Remember to learn from your marketing successes and failures and use them to inform the next iteration!
Launching a new programme? Use FULL FABRIC to capture prospect data, , promote your recruitment events, schedule nurture email campaigns and manage the application process. Request a demo today.