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Marketing for Higher Education: Online Expectations

Posted by Timothy Lorang on Mon, Aug 08, 2011 @ 10:00 AM

Students on campus in autumnEvery fall high school seniors and their parents are busy researching prospective colleges and universities and for most of them that research starts by visiting the school’s website. A recent study by Noel Levitz and National Research Center for College and University Admissions: 2011 E-Expectations Report: Students and Parents, examines the experiences and expectations of college-bound high school students and their parents. Although many academics don’t admit to marketing for higher education, attracting applicants is at the top of the list for every college recruiter. There may be more prospects than spaces available but recruiting the right students is critical for most schools and the student’s first impression, and sometimes the last impression, is on the school’s website. Here are some of the key findings.

Online Expectations Results:

  • One in five students removed a school from consideration because of a bad experience on the school’s web site.
  • On a school’s web site both students and parents tend to look at academic and programs of study first.
  • 80% of prospective students have a Facebook account but only 27% viewed the college’s Facebook page.
  • Only 9% of prospective students have a Twitter account.
  • 55% of prospective students have watched videos on the college’s website.
  • 82% of students have cell phones but only 14% used their mobile device to access the school’s website. However 41% of students from households with incomes less than $30,000 DID access the websites via mobile device.
  • 81% of prospective students use text messaging but only 8% exchanged text messages with admissions representatives.
  • 77% of prospective students rarely or never read the college blogs.
  • 93% of the prospective students will provide their e-mail address, but it helps to ask them for it.
  • 50% would have used cost and scholarship calculators but they could not find them.
  • 54% of the prospective students used interactive maps to explore the campus.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the parents are involved in the college research process and in making the final decision.

Marketing for Higher Education Strategies

There is a lot of useful and insightful information for using online strategies for marketing for higher education.  Some of the key recommendations are:

  • Keep parents in your e-recruitment sights
  • Test your site from a user’s prospective
  • Put academic program information front and center on your site
  • Make friends on Facebook and on your own social networks
  • Keep the e-mail flowing, especially for key reminders
  • Use video to sell your campus and collegiate experience
  • Put cost calculators in logical places and try to add scholarship information to them

Over the next couple of weeks we will look into this report, its recommendations and findings, and explore some specific ideas for marketing for higher education including, landing pages, video, mobile marketing, Facebook, texting, e-mail and blogs. I have written a series of blogs in the past about using educational video that will have some relevance to these posts. If you would like to find out how Image Media Partners can help or if you would like a free analysis of your web site please contact us.


Photo Credit: Chris Schmidt

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Topics: Online Marketing, Higher Education