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5 Proven Marketing Strategies to Increase Student Enrollment

Amanda Spurgeon

Once upon a time, college admissions advisors would lure prospective students with print materials, billboards and college fairs — and it was enough to get their class. Of course these traditional efforts still have their place in college enrollment marketing, but today the digital realm offers unparalleled opportunities for outreach and engagement. 

In the dynamic landscape of higher education, effective digital marketing strategies are more crucial than ever in increasing student enrollment. The tried and (formerly) true admissions marketing tactics of the past aren’t enough on their own when potential students have endless opportunities to explore right at their fingertips. Moreover, with the looming demographic cliff on everyone’s mind, institutions must adapt and embrace new approaches to attract and engage prospective students if they hope to compete. 

Okay, let’s take a quick break. 

You might be thinking about how much you have on your to do list as it is. Now some random higher ed marketing blog is telling you that you’re not doing enough? Get real. Am I right? 

Bear with me. You may be doing a lot of this already! And if you’re not, someone is probably telling you it’s time or you wouldn’t be reading this. I promise that you (yes, even you) can implement these strategies and see results. 

Nothing I’m about to suggest requires the help of an agency (though, we can recommend a pretty good one 😉) AND every single one of these strategies could even save you time in the long run. 

Ready to get back into it? Here we go. 

By leveraging digital marketing tools, embracing data-driven insights and focusing on personalized messaging, you can engage prospective students in meaningful ways that resonate and ultimately lead to increased enrollment. 

Here’s how you can do it.

Host Virtual Events and Webinars

The convenience and accessibility of virtual offerings have made them increasingly popular among prospective students who aren’t ready to fully commit to a campus visit or one-on-one meeting. On the institution side, hosting virtual events gives you a chance to share valuable insights, showcase your programs and engage directly with your target audience — often requiring less time and effort than in-person events.

Do it yourself

  • The easiest way to create virtual events is by engaging faculty members, program directors and current students as presenters or panelists in academic program webinars or panel discussions. 
  • Present engaging content and address common questions or concerns to help foster a connection with prospective students and build credibility for your institution. 

Most virtual events can be recorded once and linked on your website for prospective students to access on demand, saving you time. Even better? If any of these things are already a normal part of your in-person events, all you have to do is record it.

Virtual Event

Utilize Digital Advertising

When used correctly, digital advertising is a powerful tool for reaching and targeting prospective students. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google offer options to showcase your institution and drive traffic to important pages. Most platforms have solutions to expand your audience and nurture engaged prospects for a range of budgets and skill levels. 

The key is driving traffic from your digital ads to the right place. While sending ad traffic to your application or a program page may seem like a straightforward approach, it’s usually not the best ad strategy for increasing enrollment.

Do it yourself (effectively)

  • Instead of driving ad traffic directly to program or application pages, promote your virtual events (see what I did there) and direct traffic to register for them. 
  • Prospective students can access these resources by providing their contact information, allowing you to nurture them through email marketing campaigns.

This approach allows you to build awareness, provide valuable information, and establish a connection with prospective students before they move forward with the application.

Leverage Email Marketing

Email can be a powerful part of your enrollment marketing plan. It allows you to deliver targeted and personalized messaging directly to prospective students’ inboxes, keeping your institution top of mind and guiding them through the enrollment journey. 

Writing individual emails and sending them off can be time-consuming. If you do it right, automating your email workflows based on prospective students’ engagement can save time and ensure consistent communication.

Do it yourself

  • Capture leads through event registrations and engage them with targeted email marketing campaigns. 
  • Personalize your messaging based on the interests and preferences indicated by the leads. 
  • Incorporate blogs and relevant content offers that dive deeper into important topics and encourage leads to explore the resources.

Offer Valuable Resources and Guides

Content marketing is one of the best marketing strategies for universities and colleges to attract and engage prospective students. By offering resources like guides, infographics, blogs, videos, webinars and e-books, you can position your institution as an authoritative source of information and establish a strong connection with prospective students.

Do It Yourself

  • Put yourself in the shoes of prospective students and identify their common concerns, questions, and challenges during the enrollment process. Craft content that directly addresses these pain points, providing guidance, tips, and solutions.
  • Leverage multiple channels to promote your content and reach your target audience, including it on your institution's website, blog, social media and emails.
  • Ensure that your content is optimized for search engines to improve its visibility and reach. 

By offering valuable resources and guides through content marketing, enrollment marketers can position their institution as a thought leader, engage prospective students, and drive them toward enrollment.

Enrollment Marketing Benchmarks Report

Where do you stack up? Get the Enrollment Marketing Benchmarks report!

Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vital component of a successful enrollment marketing strategy. By optimizing your institution's website for search engines, you can improve its online visibility, attract organic traffic, and reach prospective students who may not have been aware of your school initially. 

Do It Yourself

  • Utilize keyword research tools to discover popular search terms and competition levels. Incorporate these keywords strategically within your website content to enhance its visibility in search results.
  • Develop high-quality, informative, and engaging content that aligns with the interests and needs of your target audience. 
  • User experience is a crucial factor in search engine rankings. Ensure that your website is user-friendly, loads quickly, and provides a seamless browsing experience across devices. 

Optimizing your website for search engines enables you to position your institution as a valuable resource and connect with a wider audience, ultimately driving enrollment growth.

How to Increase Enrollment with Effective Marketing

The truth is, it’s not just one of these strategies but a whole host of targeted efforts that work together to ease prospective students through the funnel and into (figurative) seats. That doesn’t mean enrollment marketers shouldn’t employ any of these strategies if they can’t do them all — implementing a full-funnel inbound marketing strategy for higher education is a long-term goal. It’s not something you can put together overnight. Start with what you can and add more as your expertise and experience (and budget) grow. 

And, of course, if you need a partner along the way DD Agency can help with all of this and more.

Interested in an SEO audit? Schedule a meeting with our experts.

Get the Freshest Industry Benchmarks

Do you know how prospective students are engaging with email? How are virtual events affecting recruitment? Are you considering all three prospective student stages when creating content? Look no further! See how your institution stacks up against other schools across these primary marketing tactics.

Download our free guide, DD’s Deep Dive: Enrollment Marketing Benchmarks Report to learn:

  • Benchmark data for four primary marketing tactics: event marketing, email marketing, digital advertising, and content marketing
  • New behaviors of prospective grad students as they research and journey through the applicant funnel from initial interest to application completion
  • Specific insights on which tactics are the most effective in engaging and converting prospects at all stages

Enrollment Marketing Benchmarks Report

Access the Report

Topics: Enrollment Marketing, Inbound Marketing

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