The coronavirus pandemic descended in the exact moment most high school seniors were preparing for their next steps, challenging enrollment marketers to pivot quickly to meet new demands. Higher education institutions are working to determine safe and viable steps forward, but many factors remain uncertain. What we do know is that classroom seats need to be filled – and filling them through online education programs might just be the solution. Technology is a strong bridge for higher education right now, and your online college courses and hybrid solutions will prove to be a vital and mutually beneficial asset. Boost higher education remote learning enrollments this fall with these five enrollment marketing strategies.
1. Adjust your audience and messaging strategy
Before the pandemic, the average age of the online learner was 34. The majority (81%) of these learners were employed, and 84% of these learners were non-traditional students. Your education marketing strategy likely centered around the demographics of online college students before the world went virtual – promoting your remote learning courses as a solution for busy, working people with families to take care of.
But now, your online education courses are a solution for a much wider audience. Traditional students are making significant changes to their plans – they’re sticking closer to home, attending smaller and more affordable colleges, opting for gap years, and yes, enrolling in online college courses. This means that it’s time to adjust your remote learning enrollment strategy to encompass a whole different group of online learners looking to make savvy decisions about their college career.
2. Open remote learning enrollment early
During a time in which high school seniors would have been hyper-focused on their senior year experience, they got stuck at home and are now grieving the end of their high school careers. They are primed to take their next steps, they want to get ahead, and they want something to look forward to. Reggie Hill, Vice President of Marketing and Enrollment at University of the Ozarks shared this advice:
“Enrollment teams should partner with academic teams to open registration early. Now is the time to anchor the students who are engaged into your university. Then, your enrollment team will be free up to work the phones and move on to filling the second half of your class.”
Use this time to highlight your online courses as a way for the high school graduates who are already interested in your school to jump-start their college careers and get ready for an exciting future.
3. Pick up the phone
Your prospective students are more available and engaged than ever before, and because they’re stuck at home, they’re actually answering their phones. Use this opportunity to build relationships with your prospective students, answer any questions about what high school seniors need to know about your online courses, and encourage them to take the next step in their remote learning enrollment journey.
Additionally, text messaging is an underutilized strategy for marketing to high school seniors. Text messaging allows higher education institutions to communicate with students in a way that’s both informal and informative. Use an opt-in text messaging program for short, relevant messages and receive instant feedback from engaged students.
4. Use technology to bridge the gap and foster inclusion
As savvy admission representatives know, campus tours, prospective student weekends, and live events are among the most effective and influential enrollment marketing tactics to convert engaged students. But just because everyone is at home doesn’t mean you can’t implement effective solutions to bring these events to your prospective students.
A recent study by Thinking Cap Agency found that just over half of transfer students are likely to take virtual tours instead of visiting open houses on campus. Utilize technology solutions like Skype, Zoom, live social streaming, and more involved video solutions to give your students access to campus tour guides, admissions staff, and campus tours—especially for students that are interested in hybrid programs or coming back to campus in the spring or beyond. Make your prospective students feel welcome and excited about what your institution is offering – both online and offline.
5. Finally, reassure students you’re ready
Students are ready to take the next step so make sure that your communication strategy reassures students that you’re ready for them, too. Students are asking practical questions like: Will enrolling in college right now be worth it? What will the fall semester even look like? Will online college courses provide a more affordable option for me right now?
Enrollment teams need to find a balance between communicating their response to COVID-19, and empowering their prospective students to envision their freshman year and beyond with excitement and hope. Stay positive and focus on the solutions and opportunities your school is offering. Be ready to answer questions about the effectiveness of your distance and online learning programs, and emphasize the unique opportunities you offer.
Looking to garner high-quality student inquiries and boost your remote learning enrollment yield? Contact Thinking Cap Agency today.