University applications in the UK have dropped by 11,000 compared to last year. It is more important than ever for universities to connect with prospective students. In order to achieve this, new educational marketing tactics will need to be implemented, as communications need to be more focused and personalised to persuade students to enrol.
Educational Marketing Challenges
One of the biggest challenges in educational marketing is understanding how the student profile has changed. Specifically, how marketing tactics will need to be adjusted for the arrival of “Gen Z” students. According to Bernadette Wilson, “This generation is characterized by self-awareness, social responsibility, and a drive for success.” This wave of new students have grown up with digital platforms, and so are the hardest to please when it comes to digital content. Gen Z are used to a high level of user experience, and so expect the same from the institution they attend.
One thing to keep in mind about Gen Z is that they can spot an ad a mile off. As a generation, they are extremely good at filtering out marketing content from content they actually want to receive. The recent changes to the Facebook algorithm can be seen as a response to this, as marketers will have to work harder than ever to deliver genuine, meaningful content to engage users.
Key educational marketing trends which are being used to target Gen Z include:
- Using social media to reach students on their native platforms
- Utilising social influencers to appeal to targeted demographics
- User-generated content (UGC)
- Personalised communications
- Advanced technologies to create unique experiences (e.g. augmented reality)
Another consideration, which is particularly relevant to online communications, is the short attention span of Gen Z. According to Madison Schumacher, “eight seconds is how much time you have to show me that your content is worth paying attention to. With just a quick scan, I need to know why I should care.”
Taking a step away from digital, one of the most effective educational marketing strategies is direct mail. In Gen Z’s quest for authenticity, a physical letter carries much more weight than a social media post. Attaching a figure to this, over 87% of consumers said they trust the message in direct mail, while only 48% trust that of email marketing.
Direct mail also has much less competition for attention than online content. Consider how many letters a prospective student receives a day, compared to how many social media posts they scroll past. The chances that a student will open a well-designed letter is very high. With this in mind, it is important that your messaging inside is focused.
It is important to note that online and offline marketing strategies are not mutually exclusive. The messaging you are sending out across all channels should be consistent and relay the same values appropriate to the medium. In the case of educational marketing, social media and direct mail can work hand in hand. Social media marketing can be utilised to build on the existing base of prospective students. From this, prospects can be segmented and prioritised, and send out hyper personalised direct mail.
Here at Brandchange we’ve got tonnes of experience with direct mail campaigns. Take a look at our case study for the finance sector.