Meeting Graduate School Intenders Where They Are

Month: November 2020

Spark451 Strategy TeamBy Spark451 Strategy Team|November 30, 2020

2020 has brought tidal-wave-sized shifts to higher education. While virtual events, test-optional policies, and COVID closures have dominated the admissions workday, a new player has quietly entered the graduate school arena—the first wave of Generation Z students.

That’s right: The eldest Gen Z students are now about 23 years old, and they’re making their way into the workforce and graduate programs. The question is: Are your graduate marketing efforts primed to reach this new breed of prospective students?

Gen Z: What We Know

You’ve heard about them. You’ve likely done your own research on them (and if not, there are countless resources available if you need to get up to speed). In fact, our 2020 Graduate School Intenders Survey found that:

  • Email and text messages are their preferred direct channels of communication
  • Most of these students spend more than three hours a day on social media
  • Google is the most used resource in their search for graduate programs

Cultivating Leads

As our survey confirmed, Gen Z is a “just-Google-it” generation who will never know the pain of scouring a library full of encyclopedias to find an answer, waiting on a dial-up connection, or the primitive experience of an “AOL keyword search.”

To reach this audience where they are, it’s crucial to run digital media campaigns that use Google Search Ads (formerly AdWords) paired with an engaging landing page. Google Ads allow you to deliver content that directly relates to what these students are searching for. For example, an ad for your Master of Business Administration program can be there when a prospective student searches Google for the “best MBA program.” Similarly, you can deliver an ad for your Master’s of Education program to those searching for answers to questions like “How do I become a teacher?”

Appearing at the top of their search with a succinct, engaging value proposition can earn you clicks and new leads from those eager to learn more about your program. Plus, our team of digital marketing experts can help you get the most out of each Google Ads campaign by continuously optimizing your ads and their paired landing pages.

Lead-Nurture Tactics

Once you pull these students into your funnel, you’ll need to deliver a steady stream of relevant messaging in order to keep them engaged, and ultimately, drive them to apply and enroll. Spark451 has been perfecting outreach methods to Gen Z for years with great success. We’ve built key strategies that meet this generation where they are — online and mobile. Our secret recipe for success isn’t all that secretive:

  • Hyper-personalized, segmented, and captivating e-communications
  • Robust, personalized text messaging
  • An extensive digital media strategy implemented across targeted social platforms

Each of these “ingredients” is, of course, created with mobile-friendly design and accessibility in mind.

Get Ready for GenZ

Now is the time to make sure your recruitment efforts are optimized to reach the latest generation of grad students, and the experts at Spark451 can help you do just that. We’d love to discuss your institution’s specific challenges and help you determine which strategies and tactics will best prepare you for your next cycle. Reach out so we can get started.

Supplement Your Search and Fill Your Next Class

Month: November 2020

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|November 3, 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for admissions—there is no getting around that. With a shortage of names typically available during this time, lack of in-person visits, and limited financial resources, there is no longer any such thing as a “traditional” senior search—at least for the short term.

At Spark451, we pride ourselves on being able to adapt to change and pivot to strategies that will help drive in a strong incoming class. That’s why we’re such strong believers in deadline-driven marketing, especially in this unique cycle. Here, we’ll explain some of the reasoning behind that philosophy, and highlight a specialized tactic that could help ensure you finish your Fall 2021 recruitment strong.

Why Timely Marketing is Critical

In this digital age, consumers are under constant pressure to buy something new or inquire about a new product or service. But, have you ever wondered why companies with deadline-driven campaigns, such as Amazon’s Prime Days, are so successful?

Marketing campaigns that emphasize deadlines compel consumers to take immediate action because they tap into our innate fear of missing out. This sense of urgency can be easily replicated in the higher education landscape.

Take, for example, a recent Spark451 partner case study: A small, private, liberal arts college in suburban Pennsylvania came to us looking for a strong winter push for Fall 2020 applications. We quickly launched our Supplemental Senior Search Program, which features a personalized letter and tip-in card, delivered in a branded envelope, as well as an accompanying e-communications nurture stream. Because all of the messaging prominently promoted an application deadline that was set for just a few weeks after we launched (and we tied in some special incentives), students immediately took action. In just a few short weeks, the effort provided a 27% lift in applications.

Why Supplemental Senior Search? (Hint: Strong ROI!)

At this point, your team has likely just finished launching your initial Senior Search campaign, and you’re starting to see your efforts roll in, so you’re probably wondering why you should even consider a Supplemental Senior Search. The short answer: Because now is the time to make sure all your bases are covered to ensure a successful year.

Supplemental Senior Search is a proven tactic for eliciting additional applications from those in your search pool who are actively engaging with your institution, or who have a high likelihood to apply.

At Spark451, we have conducted many successful Supplemental Senior Search campaigns— both for longstanding partnering institutions as well as new-to-us schools that have needed a late-stage push to increase their incoming classes. In fact, we’ve observed that students who receive these Supplemental Senior Search packages are twice as likely to submit an application than those who don’t receive the mailings.

As always, Spark451 ensures that every service we offer has trackable metrics. We create trackable URLs and performance dashboards that give you clear and immediate insights into the return on your investment.

Achieve Your Goals

With so many uncertainties in how this year’s class will shape up, we recommend planning for a Supplemental Senior Search early on in the cycle (now), so you’ll be poised to deploy this additional effort in the late fall or early winter months. Given the current recruitment landscape, you can feel fairly certain that you will benefit from having these additional touchpoints to help ensure you can hit your recruitment goals for the year.

Let us help you get there. Reach out when you’re ready to discuss specific strategies for your own Supplemental Senior Search.