For many colleges and universities, the season for admission offers is right around the corner. Now that the Admissions department has put in all the hard work to persuade the brightest students to apply, their work is done right? Not exactly.
After admission offers go out, institutions still need to convince students that they should choose their university or college. And that’s where a yield marketing strategy comes into play.
Students have more choices than ever before for college. With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, institutions need to demonstrate what makes their college or university stand out. Over the past few years, universities have struggled with increasing yield rates as students apply to more schools per admissions cycle.
From 3-D acceptance letters to all expense paid college visits, universities are seeking new innovative ways to increase yield rates and prove to students why they should be their first choice.
Below, we’ve outlined 4 key strategies and action items that can be integrated into yield marketing strategies in order to improve yield rate and strengthen the relationships between your institution and accepted students.
- Know your audience.
The incoming college generation was not only born with technology at their fingertips, but they’ve also been accustomed to hyper-personalized marketing since they were young. From customized ads, highly tailored shopping recommendations to personalized playlists, they expect companies and institutions to know what they like.
As most schools know, not all students are the same. Students and families have different motivations and deciding factors for choosing schools and knowing what those are is the key to personalized yield marketing. By tailoring your communications through location, type of program, interest in clubs or sports, and peer/family connections, you can provide the best value proposition to students.
Identify important decision factors that are specific to your admitted students (ex. location, job opportunities for graduates, specific clubs or groups, unique programs). Create a reference sheet for all factors, then “tag” your admitted students in your CRM with various factors that would likely influence their enrollment decision.
After you’ve determined what factors matter, create “value messages” for each factor that you can utilize in all messaging for students that are interested in a particular factor. Use these messaging across all touch points, from emails, to letters, to on-campus tours.
- Make current students your brand ambassadors.
In a recent student done by Eduventures, admitted students indicated that they want to not only read about current students – but they want to meet them. By interacting with current students and hearing about their experience directly, prospective students can get a better idea of whether they’ll “fit in” – a driving factor that influences students’ decision to enroll in a particular college or university.
Create a network of ambassadors that you can reference for on-campus events, campus tours, or even admitted student receptions in various cities. Connect with club presidents and professors for recommendations on students, and even utilize “old-fashioned” recruiting techniques like flyers in the library. Make it easy for them to sign up (like a mobile-friendly online form).
Aim to recruit a diverse group of ambassadors from all types of programs and geographic locations so that there is a large variety of perspectives and experiences to be shared with admitted students.
- Reinforcing your culture through social media.
As mentioned before, “culture fit” is a big factor that influences many students’ decision and should be portrayed through all communications. While tours, brochures, emails, and receptions are more of a “push” strategy, social media can be used as a “pull” strategy. By encouraging students to follow your social channels, students can decide when they want to view content and get an idea for the culture of the school.
Showcase the unique culture of your school by:
-Featuring current students on your Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram.
-Highlighting living events on campus
-Using the “takeover trend” by having a student take over the social media channel for a day to give followers a view from their perspective
-Show followers what life is like outside of class – showing nearby trips they can take or favorite restaurant or activities of current students
-Host a “ask me anything” session online through Facebook Live or Twitter, where prospective students can ask current students about campus culture in real time
- Make the tour experience unforgettable.
An on-campus tour is a universities’ chance to showcase how it provides a college experience unlike any other. According to a recent report on recruitment practices, campus visits are one of the most effective ways to recruit students and improve yield. A tour is an institutions’ best opportunity to give students a holistic experience of their culture and what they can expect if they decide to attend.
Make the tour experience as enjoyable (and easy) as possible by:
- Providing a detailed map and specific directions on where to park, where to meet, etc. ahead of time. The last thing students or parents want to do is get stuck wandering around a huge campus they’ve never been to before
- Ask for input ahead of time. Leave a spot in your registration form for special requests such as where particular faculty meet and greet or a focus on certain areas of campus.
- Offer off-campus recommendations for accommodations, activities, and restaurants to allow families to plan their weekend and experience the entire town or city – which can solidify their feeling of “I fit in here”.
- Give them something to hold. Whether it’s a brochure specific to their program or school, local recommendations around the area, or even a postcard that they can send back to their friends/family once they start school, giving them something tangible provides a feeling of “we want you here”.
Not all students can make on-campus tours, especially if you are focusing on out-of-state or international students. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to experience a version of the tour. Use the power of technology to showcase your campus through a video tour (or even 360-video tour) to show students what campus is like. Consider developing a microsite dedicated to this “online tour”, that also includes off-campus recommendations and faculty meet and greets (video versions) so students can get the same welcoming feeling as those that visited campus.
As with any new strategy, work with key stakeholders to set measurable goals so that you can determine which strategies work best for your yield efforts. Remember, student feedback can be the most useful way to measure success, so be sure to set up “checkpoints” through the yield process to ensure your efforts are paying off.