Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) rely on an integrated marketing mix to promote their services, be they undergraduate, PG or CPD programmes. The scale of the investment – financial (especially considering the significant increase of tuition fees, from £3000 to £9,000 for UG courses), emotional (potential relocation away from friends and family) and social (their decision impact upon career progression and social standing in years to come) – means prospects are unlikely to make an impulse decision.
Potential students will research at length their various options, through a multitude of channels, both online and offline. It is imperative that as Digital Marketers we understand these behaviours in order to increase the conversion rates across all channels.
With such a variety of HEIs competing for students, it is vital that institutions set themselves apart from their rivals across all channels, marketing not just the services, also the extra-curricular activities and benefits both it and the locality in which it resides has to offer.
Whilst official university websites serve as the main source of information for prospective students (QS Top Universities, 2014), all digital channels need to be persuasive and encourage people to study and apply in the university.
Whilst QS Top Universities survey identified social media as only being an essential or very important source of information for 31% of those surveyed, when asked what purpose information on social media served in their examination of universities and courses, a large proportion of respondents stated that social media served as a ‘source of inspiration when deciding what course/university to apply for (QS Top Universities, 2014).
Responsiveness to enquiries via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail need to be prompt, informative, professional and friendly in order strengthen relationships with prospects and brand loyalty.
Ultimately, face-to-face communication is important here as potential students are making a high involvement decision, therefore the communication between the potential student(s) and the university need to be very persuasive to ensure they enrol to the university. Additionally, this is fundamental to getting the message across and helping to build on potential student’s brand awareness.
What is your opinion about it, what marketing strategy do you use to recruit university students in the UK?