Colleges spend a lot of money to reach prospective students, but most of their efforts miss the mark. Why?

A limited understanding of student data hinders school's ability to target effectively.

To effectively marketing to students, first gather all that you know about your current and former students, and use information and insight to inform your marketing plan for prospective students.

Step 1: Identify what you know about your target audience

Think of your marketing universe as an archery target in which the bulls-eye consists of current and former students. This includes traditional students enrolling directly after high school, but also transfer students, non-traditional students and alumni.

What do you know about these groups? More than you might think.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Channel of initial contact (website, email, direct mail, ad, social media)
  • Family demographics (household income, state of residence, education level)
  • School performance/interests (GPA, major/minor, extra-curricular activities/level of engagement, athletics)

Step 2: Analyze the data you have with your big questions in mind.

Consider this: If you had all the information you could possible want, what are the 10-15 key questions you would want to be able to answer about current and former students and applicants? For example:

  • What do students who complete their undergraduate career look like?
  • Is the profile of current students the profile most desired by the college?
  • Where are transfer students coming from and why?
  • What motivates non-traditional students?
  • How do alumni engage with the school?

Step 3: Apply your learnings to maximize results.

Of equal importance, if you had those answers, what would you do differently? Data and the resulting analysis must be both accessible and actionable to be valuable.

  • Find look-alikes consistent with key attributes of successful students.
  • Analyze communication process and identify opportunities to increase efficiency
  • Develop customized communications for each segment
  • Test to determine best offer combinations
  • Use findings from analysis to support development of marketing strategies
  • Evaluate marketing strategy successes and optimize for continuous improvement

College admissions shouldn’t be a game of horseshoes. The stakes are high, and the more precisely you can visualize your target student, the better focused your marketing campaign will be.

Looking for more education marketing insight? We’ve created a free downloadable Marketing to Students eBook, filled with tips on how to boost the performance of your enrollment marketing efforts and turn your most loyal students into powerful brand ambassadors.


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