Competition in higher education recruitment is at its peak and universities struggle to provide a high quality, personalised service for increasingly tech-savvy prospective students in their crucial decision-making journey. Marketing and recruitment departments continue to generate warm leads at fairs through advisors, staff, alumni, working with agents, and online advertising. Universities and colleges currently lose up to 70% of their applicants, and significant staff time and effort is spent making sure every prospect and their parents have all the information they need to make a well-informed decision.
The Era of Speed
Mobile delivery of services has become an expectation of progressive higher education institutions, and the old regime of traditional advertising is fading as millennials focus on experiences and interactivity over hard sells. Millennials are digital natives and multitasking is a natural flair, having grown up with a level of technological literacy that’s relatively new to the market (Forbes, 2017). Prospective students have the “I want an answer now” mentality, so it’s imperative that we reach out when the interest is at its peak, and that time is now.
The number of international students recruited by British universities has seen a steady decline in enrolment ratios from application to entry due to various internal and external factors. Most marketing and recruitment managers face problems in the outreach and acquisition of the tech-savvy cohort during the critical pre-entry phase. A lack of brand awareness and slow speed to connect with high-quality personalised data during the waiting period of the student recruitment cycle is constantly leading to significant loss of revenue and low conversion ratios.
Marketing to Millennials
We have recognised that this generation values being acknowledged as individuals, being presented with options, and feeling connected. They’re receptive to brand storytelling over straightforward ads. Millennials exhibit early adoption tendencies and develop a sign of loyalty to brands they can trust. Millennials do not care if the content is branded; they care about whether it speaks to them. 95% of Students prefer apps to mobile-ready portals, and universities have to adopt an app-first strategy to enhance the students’ satisfaction levels and increase their student recruitment numbers.
Proodle asked international students who choose the UK as their study abroad destination about the problems they faced when they were applying for universities. 62% said it was hard to raise enquiries, 31% said the university did not even respond, which made their application process harder and forced them to go to alternative sources such as agents. We also asked them for their opinion regarding the user experience of the university website and its effect on their application process; 70% said it was complicated to find application timelines, 78% said there is a lack of country-specific information and it was a burden to understand entry requirements, and 95% said they suffered from a lack of personalisation.
Innovation can change the game
Millennials have a lot to offer the market, and it all starts with capturing their attention. The rise of social and influencer marketing exemplifies how millennials prefer to be part of a brand’s conversation. By directly addressing this generation, brands can spark a connection. Student facing web and mobile apps can facilitate this and streamline the recruitment process, allowing the universities to have access to the most up-to-date information about a prospective student’s enquiries, application status or offer letter, and directly recruit high-calibre students by making marketing and contact strategy more targeted and cost-effective.
By having a greater insight into the behaviour of your users and provide them with high-quality personalised information, we can now follow an e-commerce marketing approach for better conversion of an enquirer into an applicant and then ultimately a successful enrolment. Personalisation and the ability to connect prospects with existing resources is key to making users feel proud of being part of your institution.