Admissions and Recruitment: 3 Proven Strategies for Digital Marketing & Virtual Events

Written by: Kristen Hicks, Director of Marketing and Partnerships @ Blackthorn.io and former Midwest College Director of Marketing and Communications.

If you’re in higher ed marketing, you’ve probably seen a flurry of emails and LinkedIn posts about tips to ramp up digital marketing and virtual events. But despite all of the webinars, blogs, etc., you’re still left wondering, “What’s working for colleges and universities? And what online efforts are keeping campus communities connected during this time?” The biggest concern is curbing the “gap year,” and attrition issues institutions are facing due to COVID-19.

To answer these questions, we’ve gathered recent insights from institutions and industry experts who are actually seeing ROI using digital marketing and virtual admissions events formats. To make it easy, we’ve compiled them into three key insights. Although each campus community is different, these can serve as a guide to help your admissions and marketing teams reach important institutional goals.

  1. Get the word out about virtual opportunities to new and existing prospects through conversational marketing.
  2. Cater in-person event goals and strategies to fit an online audience.
  3. Use virtual tools to show what makes your community unique.

Promote virtual opportunities to new and existing prospects through conversational marketing.

Cater in-person event goals and strategies to fit an online audience.

The end goals are the same, depending on the funnel stage — engagement, application, admittance. But the strategy has changed and so should your tactics. We all have a shorter attention span online with work-from-home distractions and constant social media notifications. Here are a few ways to keep attendees engaged.

HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht saw 9,000 prospects attend virtual events after turning an on-campus open house into a series of 400 shorter virtual sessions, trumping their in-person event attendance numbers. Why? Students who normally couldn’t come to campus due to lengthy travel could now get the same online experience, increasing the applicant pool for the upcoming semesters. Prospects attended because they were able to ask specific questions about their career paths and get answers from students, alumni, and professors.

Use virtual tools to show what makes your community unique.

We’re all excited for the fall and being able to see prospective students on campus again, but you can bet virtual recruitment is here to stay. Setting up a solid foundation will help now and open up new applicant pool channels in the future that are sure to grow your prospect funnel.

Have questions about how to manage all of the logistics? Our team has helped multiple colleges and organizations move in-person events online due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements. Let’s chat about your challenges and find a solution!

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