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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | February 27th, 2024

What Do Grad Students Want in 2024?

What Do Grad Students Want in 2024?As 2024 dawns, higher education institutions all across the country are hard at work preparing for the next wave of graduate school students with marketing and recruitment efforts. But what do grad students really want in 2024?

In order to recruit and retain the next class of students in 2024 and beyond, it’s important to have a strong grasp of their pain points, needs, concerns, values, and goals to successfully produce the marketing materials needed to connect with them. Here, we’ll take a more detailed look at what prospective graduate school students really want so you can better craft content and messaging that connects with them.

Flexible courses

The COVID-19 pandemic made virtual and hybrid learning commonplace for students. Even though the pandemic has receded and virtual learning largely with it, today’s graduate school prospects still value flexibility. To that end, make sure that your programs offer online and hybrid class options and that this is effectively communicated via your marketing to show you know what grad students want in 2024.

A commitment to inclusion

Prospective students today value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) more than ever. To attract them in 2024 and beyond, recommit to DEI initiatives at your institution, build diversity into your marketing efforts, and make sure that your prospects know about them through social media, email, blogging, and other marketing channels.

An eye on the future economy

Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.

That means your institution needs to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to offering courses and classes relevant to the emerging economy. Make sure that you’re incorporating new trends like AI, robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, digital media, green energy, and the like into your curriculum, and communicate this to your prospects in your marketing materials.

Mental health support

Prospective students take mental health seriously. Don’t discount this – invest in mental health professionals at your institution and ensure that your students know that you value mental health as well.

Career readiness

Finally, emphasize career readiness at your institution too, not just gaining an advanced degree in and of itself.

All too often, graduate school students feel unprepared for the job market after graduating. However, your institution can make a difference for them through networking opportunities, job interview advice, internships, hands-on training, and other activities to maximize their employability after graduating.

Know what grad students want in 2024 to attract and retain students

The nature of prospective graduate school students is changing – will your institution change along with it?

By having a stronger grasp of how to connect with prospective students, you can tailor your content, marketing channels, and messaging to them more effectively. In turn, this can lead to improved recruitment and retention in 2024 and beyond despite a more challenging and complex educational landscape.

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | January 30th, 2024

Paid Search Best Practices and Strategies for Grad Schools

Paid Search Best Practices and Strategies for Grad SchoolsPaid search ads (also known as pay-per-click, or PPC ads) can be a powerful marketing tool for graduate schools for many reasons. How so? Paid search best practices and strategies for grad schools allow for specific demographic targeting based on specific criteria, can be turned on to generate leads almost instantly, and offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to crafting your messaging and marketing goals, such as boosting brand awareness, generating demand, or bringing in more qualified leads.

All of that being said, it’s important to have a strong grasp of how paid search marketing works in order to use it the most effectively. Below, we’ll examine a few strategies and best practices in detail so you know how to effectively leverage it. Let’s take a look.

Research and understand your audience very carefully

Before actually launching any paid search campaigns, always conduct thorough research of your target audience and understand their goals, demographics, and pain points.

This may seem obvious, but all too often paid search campaigns are launched by schools, businesses, and organizations without a clear understanding of who exactly they’re targeting. As a result, many of them waste their time and money on ineffective campaigns. To avoid this, have a strong grasp of who you want to target and for what reasons before budgeting for any paid search campaigns.

Conduct thorough keyword research

Conducting extensive keyword research is also crucial.

Focus on high-volume, relevant keywords with user intent in mind. For example, focusing on a general keyword like “MBA” is too vague and will likely result in squandering your budget, but targeting keywords like “best schools for an EMBA” are much more likely to connect you to the right target audience that’s seeking the programs you’re offering.

By targeting these longtail keywords based on user intent, your campaign will more effectively target the right audience and more effectively funnel leads directly into your specific programs.

A/B test consistently and for many variables

A/B testing is a great way to determine what’s working most effectively in your campaigns and help you optimize them by leveraging this information.

When A/B testing, focus on variables like ad copy, keywords, landing pages, calls-to-action (CTAs), and visuals in both the ad if applicable and landing page. The more information you can glean from A/B testing, the better optimized your campaigns will be, leading to higher conversions without wasting precious dollars.

Determine your goals and KPIs

Setting up specific goals and KPIs early on is critical too.

Without a clear goal and KPIs to track in mind, your campaign will be aimless and end up wasting a lot of time and money. Instead, map out what your specific goals are and the metrics needed to track them before launching a campaign. For example, you may want to set a goal of increasing leads 25% before the start of the next semester. Whatever your goals and KPIs are, be sure that everyone on your team is aware of them and is working towards them with the correct metrics and timelines in mind.

Avoid contact forms that are too long and complex

Finally, avoid contact forms that are too long and complex for your ad landing pages.

While paid ads are great for generating leads and increasing conversions, your efforts may go to waste if your landing page contact forms are too long, overly complex, and invasive in terms of privacy. Instead, keep your contact forms simple, concise, and avoid asking for too much personal information, as many people may be reluctant to give that out early on.

Leverage paid search best practices and strategies for success

By keeping these paid search best practices and strategies for grad schools in mind, you can better optimize your paid search campaigns for your grad school programs. Whatever your goals are, paid search can be a powerful tool when it comes to accomplishing them – if you do it well!

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | January 17th, 2024

Effective Grad School Email Marketing

Effective Grad School Email MarketingAlthough social media has been all the rage over the past few years when it comes to marketing to prospective graduate school students, email remains a very cost-effective and reliable method for communicating with prospects. As with all forms of marketing, email marketing has changed a lot over the years, meaning that higher education institutions need to know the current best practices and strategies to ensure that they’re using it effectively for grad school email marketing.

So, let’s examine some email marketing tips for higher education institutions to help supercharge your marketing campaigns!

Segmentation and automation are key

When email marketing to prospects, be sure to segment your campaigns based on factors like funnel stage, anticipated start date, and persona match. This way, you can better tailor your messaging and content to the right audience simply and effectively. Using automation tools like HubSpot or Constant Contact is something else to keep in mind, allowing you to fully automate your campaigns so you can focus on strategy, creating content, and other more productive tasks as opposed to time-consuming manual work.

Personalization is a must in grad school email marketing

Likewise, personalization is key nowadays too.

A mass email addressed to prospects is unlikely to get their attention, but including the specific names of individual recipients in the subject line and body is a simple yet effective way to increase open rates and conversions. Similarly, including the signature of an actual staff member, such as the Dean or Director of Recruitment, can add an additional personalized touch to each email, creating a human connection with prospects.

Optimize for all devices

When email marketing first started in the 1990s, marketers only had to worry about how their emails looked on desktops. Today, the media landscape is much more diverse, with recipients regularly checking emails on their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices.

To that end, make sure that your emails are fully optimized for all devices, especially mobile. This can be done with thorough testing to ensure that your content reaches its recipients visually represented like you wanted it to.

Ensure brand consistency in email marketing

Consistent branding and imagery is important when designing your emails so that the recipient can identify your institution quickly and easily. Including your logo, branding colors, and a consistent voice can build trust and a stronger connection with your prospects more effectively.

Convey engaging stories to your prospects

Finally, use email marketing as a storytelling medium to boost engagement with your prospects.

Email can be used to convey student and alumni success stories, testimonials, interviews, and other forms of content that focus on personal stories. Doing so is a great way to add a personalized, human touch to your program, boosting engagement and conversion rates in the process.

Use grad school email marketing to reach and engage prospects

Indeed, email marketing may not be new or flashy, but it’s a tried-and-true marketing channel that continues to pay off today – and for years to come. By using these grad school email marketing strategies and best practices, you’ll be able to better reach and engage prospects with valuable and useful content, boosting your recruitment efforts over the long term.

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | December 28th, 2023

Improve your university’s brand awareness

Improve your university’s brand awarenessThe way higher education institutions market themselves to prospects has changed dramatically in a short amount of time. The rise of social media and the growing importance of content marketing, especially video marketing, has forced colleges to grapple with new ways to improve their university’s brand awareness and reach prospects effectively.

So, how should schools go about building brand awareness in a more complex and multifaceted digital world? The key is actually to embrace it. By using effective digital marketing strategies, you’ll be able to increase your brand awareness quickly and cost-effectively.

Let’s take a quick look at a few ways to do just that:

Create a detailed brand awareness strategy

First and foremost, don’t fly blind with your brand awareness strategy. Instead, draw up a detailed roadmap that includes timelines, metrics, types of content, and next steps to stay accountable and execute your strategy thoughtfully.

Be sure to conduct thorough research and develop detailed personas when crafting your brand awareness strategy too. It’s also a good idea to set measurable goals for content production, such as publishing two blog posts per week, and for metrics, such as increasing conversions by 50 percent within a year.

Create and share engaging and compelling content

Once you’ve done your research, created personas, and mapped out a detailed strategy, it’s time to start creating and sharing compelling content. This is at the crux of any successful brand awareness strategy.

Focus on creating engaging and useful content tailored to your target audience in the form of blog posts, eBooks, social media posts, email newsletters, videos, infographics, podcasts, and more. With a healthy mix of content published on a steady cadence, your institution can boost its inbound marketing and grow its brand awareness very effectively.

Focus on SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for building brand awareness over the long term.

You can boost your site’s SEO by blogging and creating quality content more frequently, targeting valuable keywords and topics with your content, optimizing your metatags, building outbound links, and ensuring your site is fast, mobile-friendly, and free of any major technical errors. By consistently doing SEO, your institution’s website will climb higher in the search results, ultimately boosting your brand awareness.

Leverage social media channels

Social media marketing is critical for building brand awareness.

Strive to post on channels like X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok regularly and use relevant hashtags where appropriate. Content that works well on social media includes everything from blog posts to video testimonials to longform guides. Finally, don’t forget to actively engage with social media users rather than just post content. Answer questions, post polls, and in general try to engage with your target audience to humanize your school’s brand.

Use paid advertising effectively

Paid ads are another great way to build brand awareness, working alongside SEO to boost your content’s visibility.

Paid advertising on both search engines like Google and social media channels, particularly LinkedIn, can help you reach your audience very quickly and effectively and should be a key part of your brand awareness strategy. Another good idea is boosting content such as blog posts, videos, and longform guides on LinkedIn, which can greatly expand their reach to your target audience.

Improve your university’s brand awareness today

With a detailed strategy and engaging content, you can improve your university’s brand awareness today quickly and cost-effectively. Need a hand doing it? GPRS has the expertise and resources to increase your institution’s brand awareness so you can ultimately boost enrollments and revenue. Contact us today to find out more.

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | December 14th, 2023

Higher Education Trends to Watch in 2024

Higher Education Trends to Watch in 2024 Higher education is constantly changing, with each year ushering in new challenges – but also new opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath both sparked, as well as accelerated many notable trends. Following are higher education trends to watch in 2024 that are likely to impact undergraduate and graduate programs.

Institutions need to stay ahead of the curve and keep tabs on these fast-changing developments to ensure that their marketing and recruitment efforts remain effective. Here, we take a closer look at some of the higher education trends to watch in 2024 so that you can plan, and adapt, for success.

Online and hybrid classes

The COVID-19 pandemic saw the explosive growth of online and later hybrid learning virtually overnight. In the wake of the pandemic, these options remain popular among prospective students thanks to their flexibility.

When marketing your programs to prospects, be sure to highlight your modalities and the benefits. Doing so can position your institution as a place where students have the flexibility and freedom to learn on their own terms.

Rising costs present a challenge

It’s no secret that rising costs have put a damper on the public’s enthusiasm for higher education in recent years.

The solution? Stress the value that your programs offer to students over the long term. By shifting to this messaging in your marketing campaigns, you can help prospects understand that their continued education is an investment that can reap rewards for many years to come.

Upskilling and reskilling remain important

The Great Resignation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic saw millions of Americans rethink their careers and everyday lives to follow their passions and achieve better work-life balance and more meaningful, engaging careers.

Although the Great Resignation has largely ended in recent months, its impact on the mindset of both students and professionals remains. Not surprisingly, upskilling and reskilling has become very important and will likely remain so in 2024 and beyond. Higher education institutions should embrace this trend and highlight how undergraduate and graduate degree or certificate programs are an effective way to shift careers/industries, gain new marketable skills, and ultimately create a more fulfilling life.

The rise of AI

Talk about AI has been everywhere in 2023 and certainly will be in 2024 as well.

There’s no doubt that this powerful technology movement has instilled a lot of trepidation in people, including in higher education. However, it can also be harnessed and used to boost marketing, recruitment, and administrative efforts in many ways. For example, chatbots can give fast, personalized answers to prospects online while advanced analytics can help narrow down applications quickly, letting staff focus on more productive tasks.

Although AI technology is still in its infancy, its potential should be embraced by schools as a way to make life easier and simpler overall due to its many useful applications.

Stay ahead of the higher education trends to watch in 2024

These are just some of the key higher education trends to watch in 2024. However, by having a better understanding of what to expect, you can position your marketing and recruitment efforts for success well into the new year.

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | November 30th, 2023

What you need to know about higher education content marketing

What you need to know about higher education content marketingContent is king when it comes to promoting a university to a target audience – but just how do you go about higher education content marketing effectively?

By creating and distributing engaging and useful content tailored to your target audience, you can do everything from building brand awareness to boosting conversions to educating prospects about the key details of your programs. Ultimately, all of this can play a crucial role in increasing enrollment, but the trick is doing it effectively. As prospects are bombarded with content online, via social media, email, and other channels, creating content that really stands out and reaches them is imperative.

To that end, here are a few strategies and ideas for creating content that truly stands out and engages with your target audience!

Optimize your blog

Blogging is a crucial tool at your disposal for effective higher education content marketing. Topics could include your program’s history, campus culture, the benefits of enrolling, interviews with professors and alumni, and much more.

To optimize your blog, be sure to take search engine optimization (SEO) into account and conduct thorough keyword and topic research beforehand. Establishing a content calendar to publish content on a steady cadence is another good idea to stay accountable and keep tabs on key metrics like views, dwell time, and conversions.

Create valuable longform content

Longform content like eBooks, guides, and whitepapers are great for bringing more in-depth information to your target audience efficiently and effectively.

Topics for longform content could include campus life, your school’s local community, career options, and the like. Another advantage of longform content is that it’s easy to distribute via email or social media and can also be gated, making it useful for lead capturing.

Leverage case studies and testimonials

Case studies and testimonials from students and alumni are an excellent way to humanize your school’s programs and add a more personalized touch. By highlighting real-life examples of students and alumni, schools can help prospects imagine themselves in your program and boost the odds of their enrollment.

When creating case studies and testimonials, focus on the success stories of students and alumni profiled and relate them directly back to your program. Also, remember to share this content on social media and email to increase its reach to prospective students.

Create engaging videos

Given the popularity of social media channels like YouTube and TikTok and the changing nature of how content is consumed, video marketing has never been more important than right now.

Embrace this trend and leverage video marketing to its fullest potential. Some ideas include video case studies and testimonials, campus tours, interviews with faculty, campus events, and more. Keep in mind that shorter videos tend to convert at a higher rate and that sharing on social media is crucial.

Share useful infographics on social media

Finally, don’t overlook the power of infographics.

They’re a great way to communicate key information in a visual, simple, and engaging way. Before creating them, create an outline for each one that focuses on telling a relevant story, and be sure to make it visually appealing with the right colors and fonts. After creating an infographic, share it on social media channels like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram to ensure it reaches as wide an audience as possible.

Boost your higher education content marketing strategy today

The bottom line is that content marketing is crucial for promoting your school, and its programs. Interested in optimizing your content strategy? Contact GPRS today to leverage our resources and experience in this area.

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ABOUT GPRS

For over two decades, GPRS has been a trusted higher education marketing agency, offering custom solutions to institutions of all sizes and degree types. Admissions directors, marketing directors, deans, and presidents rely on GPRS to provide a depth of services, including strategy, lead generation, digital marketing, nurture communications, recruiting, and analytics.

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