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How to Help Students Understand the Importance of Course Materials Marketing Plan

Posted by Liz Schulte on 1/6/21 6:30 AM
Topics: textbook industry trends, college bookstore social media, bookstore marketing plan

Students who are prepared for their classes have a better chance of mastering the subject, especially with the rise of online learning. Why are so many students choosing not to purchase course materials? The usual reasons are the cost is too high, the professor doesn’t use the book or the student has heard from friends that the book isn’t necessary for the course. With many schools relying on online learning, course materials are more important than ever to student success. So, how can the bookstore help students understand the importance of course materials?

How to Help Students Understand the Importance of Course Materials Marketing Plan

Throughout 2020, online learning was a necessary part of education. As schools, faculty and students adjusted to this new format, new research is coming out about how students are responding.

According to a recent survey by NACS OnCampus Research:

50% would rather use print textbooks for online classes
66% would rather use print textbooks for in-person classes
40% of students said they utilized course materials more while attending online classes
39% of respondents felt course materials were more useful for online courses than for face-to-face classes
31% indicated their instructors used course materials more often 

Many of the reasons why students have avoided purchasing course materials in the past are becoming less valid. What the bookstore can do now is educate students on why materials are important and how those materials can help them learn better online. However, new challenges have developed. When students aren’t on campus, the bookstore might not be top of mind when they think about ordering textbooks. The bookstore needs to be communicative and clear that they are open and taking online orders.

According to Barnes & Noble College research:

82% of four-year students said that it is absolutely or very important to have textbooks/course materials
53% said that the transition to online learning negatively impacted their confidence toward being academically successful
56% felt it was stressful to not have course materials on the first day of class
31% of students felt it was hard to keep up with class without course materials

As you prepare for a new term, we suggest reminding students that having their own textbooks can make a big difference on their preparedness and comprehension.

Five ways to explain why textbooks are important to students

1. Send emails

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Emails are still a great way to pass along information. Simply add a line or two to the emails you already plan to send to students letting them know how to order textbooks, the differences in the format options available to them through the bookstore and anything that reminds them of how to use the store’s price matching program if one’s available.

You could include a line like:

  • Don’t fall behind. The college store can help you make sure you have the books you need for class. Order today!
  • Did you know having the required textbooks for class can help relieve anxiety and improve your academic performance? Order your books online from the campus store!
  • The campus store offers a lot of great low-cost textbook options and price matching. We can help you get the materials you need before classes start. Visit our website today!

2. Target specific courses with large class sizes

Another way you could encourage students to order their books is to send out some targeted emails. Make a list of some of the larger classes this term. Reach out to the faculty member teaching the course and explain that you would like to send a message to the students enrolled in this course about the course material options available at the bookstore. You can also ask for a quote from them about why it is important to have the assigned materials for the course.

By including the professor, you can hopefully assuage any doubts the students might have about the course materials use in the upcoming term. Also, this could help improve faculty relations with the bookstore. Once you have information you need, craft an email to send to the segment of students signed up for this course. Make sure you include the course name in the subject line of the email — recognizing the course name could help improve email open rates.

Another option is if you have a faculty member who is very interested in helping with this is to ask the faculty member to send out the email you prepare to the students.

3. LMS/website banner

Web banner example

An easy way to help share information is to make sure you are sharing it as widely as possible. By switching out your website and social media banners with information about why it is important to have course materials gives every person who visits your site an opportunity to see the message. It also reinforces the point you are making in the minds of those who have already seen the message.

If you can share the occasional message on the school’s LMS, that’s another great way to spread information about the importance of course materials. Keep the message short and the call to action clear.

4. Orientation

Help students build good habits early. If your store participates in orientation events, share with the students and parents how important course materials are to the student’s overall success. If you already have a handout that you share in-person or online, add some information that helps demonstrate to students why the required materials matter.

If you don’t have a handout, budget some time to create one. Think about the information new or transfer students might benefit from knowing before they order textbooks. Things you could include in a handout are:

  • How to order textbooks
  • Why textbooks are important
  • Cost-saving tips
  • Differences in format options

5. Social media

Social Media image exampleOn social media, you might want to take a different approach to this topic. Static images with clear directives are fine, but you might gain more ground if you take a slightly different approach. Consider recruiting some students to talk about how they are adjusting to online courses.

The store could offer students a small gift card for their participation in the panel discussion. Set up a Zoom call where you can talk to four to five upper classmen (you could also talk to student workers or student government members) from a variety of disciplines. Ask them about the challenges they had with online learning and what helped them make the most out of the courses they took last term. Be clear with the participants that ideally you would like to discuss how they used their textbooks and what they have learned through their time in school.

Encouraging students to get their required textbooks can not only help them perform better in class, but it can also improve your store’s sell-through rate. How did 2020 change how your store talks about course materials with students?

Download the marketing kit for fantastic marketing materials to help you communicate with students. 


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