Why Enrollment Numbers are Down

Learn how improvements to your education website, recruitment marketing and social media strategy can help boost SEO, inspire engagement and differentiate your school.

Illustration containing a downward sloped graph, graduation cap and question marks.
Published: 12.5.2019

Prospective students are being targeted for marketing from schools near and far. Learn how you can differentiate your school’s marketing to be found, stand out in search and increase enrollment numbers.

Schools everywhere are suffering from declining enrollment numbers, making this the perfect time to make enrollment gains through differentiation. Help more students find your school and develop interest in your programs by focusing on these three things.

  1. Ensuring your website is user and mobile friendly as well as SEO-optimized
  2. Sticking to your recruitment marketing plan
  3. Leveraging social media

One of the challenges marketing teams are facing is addressing the ever-changing landscape of each of these areas. New user experience research that affects website hierarchy is coming out all the time, what matters to prospects seems to change as quickly as the seasons and organic social media has declined over the last year. Keeping up can feel overwhelming, but your team can tackle them all by starting with our frequently asked questions.

Ensuring your website is user-friendly and SEO-optimized

  1. How do we ensure our website is user-friendly? There are several opportunities for improvement here, but the easiest and least overwhelming place to start is on the outside. Put yourself in your audience’s position to understand which information is important to them and then outline opportunities for improvement. You can use our post, College Websites: Designing for Enrollment, to learn ways to implement an ‘outside in’ approach.
  2. How important is it to be able to access our website on mobile devices? In College Website Essentials to Drive Enrollment, we shared that currently over half of web traffic comes from mobile devices. Prospective students have their phones on them at all times and are likely using mobile to learn about your school. Optimizing your website for mobile is key in guiding them toward your admissions page.
  3. Where should the Request for Information (RFI) forms live on our site? RFI forms are contact forms that enable prospective students to request information about academic programs, financial aid and campus tours. They should be easily accessible on every single page. A great way to incorporate these forms without drowning out other content is by creating a sidebar call-out that’s standard throughout the site and includes a small RFI form. Another way to make RFI opportunities user-friendly is to add a chatbot to your site that prompts users to ask the common questions often found on an RFI form — tuition, programs, scholarships, etc. — and then follow up by email to avoid the traditional form process altogether. Having both options means prospects get to choose what works best for them. 
  4. How do we know if our website is optimized for search? There are many tools and tactics to help optimize your website for search, and it can be hard to know where to start. HubSpot, Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Yoast SEO and SEMrush are just a few to get you started. Investing in an SEO audit is also a great solution for quickly identifying opportunities and creating a roadmap for improvement.

Sticking to your recruitment marketing plan

  1. How do we ensure our brand is accurately and consistently represented in our marketing? Start with a solid education brand alongside core themes within your recruitment marketing and overall communication efforts. Without this you could be sending mixed messages to your audience about your institution. Including details from your brand guide in your marketing strategy will keep the team on track.
  2. How do we make sure our social media efforts support the marketing plan? Encouraging your content manager or social media manager to work with the marketing team is a great first step. Together they can create a social media calendar that correlates with the marketing plan. Thus, ensuring all of your social media tactics align with the overarching marketing goals.
  3. How do we ensure our print and digital efforts are aligned? Many teams have designers with specific specialties who work on projects separately even though they support the same goal or campaign and this can cause some misalignment. We see this a lot with digital versus print projects. Designers often get briefed on a project together, then go their separate ways to work their magic independently. It’s not until the end of the project that the team realizes how different the concepts look from one another. Encouraging collaboration throughout the process and scheduling check-ins is key. 

Leveraging social media to drive traffic and improve your audience’s experience

  1. What do we post? We don’t want our team to be in a constant content scramble. There is an endless supply of content that can be created for social media. You can showcase your school’s culture, environment and campus life; academics; scholarship opportunities and tuition assistance; success stories and more, all while showing off your institution’s personality. The best way to get ahead is through planning, starting with a marketing calendar that reflects ongoing campaigns, campus events and community engagements. Create a social media strategy that includes a primary social media purpose, content pillars that support the purpose, intended audience and sample posts in each category. Then, format this information in a spreadsheet or calendar that enables you to plan posts in advance, leaving scramble mode behind.
  2. We’re receiving a lot of comments and questions in social media post comments. How important is it to respond to each one? Social media platforms provide the illusion of instant access that is very real to your audience. This provides a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself by choosing to fully engage across platforms. Responding to comments does two things for you. First, it directly engages the person who asked the question. It gives you an opportunity to request their email, send more information and begin a meaningful recruitment process. Second, it shows the rest of your users that you are engaged with the concerns of your audience, which is a great sign to prospects. You can further serve your community by making sure your social media posts are accessible.
  3. We know video is important, but how should we incorporate it into social? According to Social Media Today, 1200% more shares are generated by social videos than just text and images combined so we recommend utilizing video across all channels. And with 3 billion searches per month, YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. Creating videos for a YouTube channel that can be used throughout social and hosted on your page is really great for SEO. These videos don’t have to break the bank or even be formally scripted. They just need to be authentic and connect to your strategy.

Work with an agency like ours to make the changes you need to start boosting enrollment numbers.

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