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Colleges Find New Ways to Recruit Today's Social Media Savvy High School Students

Posted by admin on 4/7/14 11:00 PM
Topics: back to college, Higher Ed, social media, college store stories, Marketing to Students

The following excerpt is from an article written by Karen Farkas, The Plain Dealer and published on Cleveland.com. Farkas discusses several new ways colleges and universities and connecting with prospective students. Although they're geared toward college admissions, there's no reason your store can't use similar strategies to interact with them once they're on campus! Read some key details below, then view the full article for further ideas from Ohio schools.

If you want to reach a high school student you have to go where they are - online.

So local colleges are using videos, e-mails and personalized ads to recruit today’s media savvy teenagers. Their success will soon become evident as seniors decide this month where they will attend school this fall.

“It is such a hard market, it truly is,” said David Garcia, associate vice president for enrollment management at Kent State University. “We are all on the latest technology and every year we see what is out there new and how to communicate with the young folks.”

Universities still target students from lists of those who have visited the campus and taken the ACT and SAT. They continue to mail information and buy newspaper, billboard and television advertisements – but those efforts generally attract the attention of parents.

Teenagers have to be reached in other ways, said Rob Spademan, assistant vice president of university marketing at Cleveland State University.

Research shows that 70 percent listen to streaming radio, 25 percent are mobile-only online users and 90 percent watch online videos, he said.

So last fall CSU and Wyse Advertising redirected $80,000 of the $225,000 it spent to recruit in Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Buffalo, Detroit, Erie and Toledo to online radio and companies that place online ads.

“Instead of buying a specific web site, they look for people who fit the characteristics of the demographic,” Spademan said.

CSU can measure its success because if someone goes to CSU's website from an online ad the university can trace back to where the click originated, Spademan said.

“Ultimately we are able to follow those people if they come to us and apply and fill out the application and finish it,” he said. “They get a thank you for completing it.”

If someone doesn’t complete an application they will later get a personalized ad that says they can complete their CSU application in 10 minutes.

“In marketing terms that is called a conversion – the action you want to have happen as a result of your advertising,” he said. “For us it is to get an application.”

CSU could tweak ads as well, and got more reaction when an ad saying students could save $5,000 in tuition and room and board under its freshman scholars program replaced one that said they could save 30 percent, Spademan said.

“The beauty of it is we are able to really look at things and measure them in a way that was unthinkable before,” he said. “We don’t discount using outdoor ads or print ads but you can’t measure it like you can the digital stuff.”

Research showed 91 percent of teens take an action as a result of watching a video, Spademan said.

“That is a very surprising number to us,” he said. “We changed from static banner ads to short videos.”

The videos brought in the most responses, according to the campaign results. All online efforts resulted in 857 applications, compared to 764 applications from other media and 1,200 from acquired or purchased student lists.

The University of Akron sends direct e-mails with embedded videos and video links that provide financial advice, said Eileen Korey, associate vice president and chief communications officer.

The university, which had an enrollment decline last year, spent $250,000 this year to hire Royall & Company of Richmond Virginia, which does “strategic enrollment management” for universities. Applications are up 44 percent, Korey said.

The company is handling the entire recruitment and application process, including revamping the university’s application, which now says it will notify students within two weeks of acceptance.

“We are also getting out there with scholarship offers quicker,” Korey said.

Royall provides services at a level beyond what the university is are able to develop in-house due to time, resources and money, said Lauri Thorpe, associate vice president of enrollment management.

The majority of prospects that Kent State pursues are from those who took the ACT or SAT, said Garcia.

“We have a strong marketing campaign to reach out to students from sophomore on up,” he said. “We have analytics that will give us more information about what students are doing. Are they opening their e-mails? Are they clicking on certain parts of the web page? We look at the whole picture. How are students finding us and where are they going?”

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