Since you are a higher ed admission or marketing professional, I know that you rely heavily on digital media and email to communicate with your target audience: prospective students. But, are your digital media campaigns aligned with your email campaigns?

As a marketing professional at Spark451, I am part of the email and digital media team that has sent out over 100 million emails and optimized over 300 digital media campaigns in just the last year. We have set the tone for all our partnering institutions on best practices to achieve engagement rates that exceed industry standards.

Your digital marketing and email—both powerhouse channels—should operate in unison to turn your prospects into applicants. After all, sending the right message, at the right time, is key to any successful marketing campaign. Plus, with the latest privacy changes, it’s more important than ever to communicate to your prospects through various avenues to reach them where they are using every day. Here, I’ll share several smart ways to use digital media and email to engage prospective students and usher them through the enrollment funnel.

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Build Brand Awareness and Generate Leads

Before you can ask students to apply, they need to know about your school, so the first step with any prospective student is to spark interest. You need to build Brand Awareness, so students can become familiar with your college or university and keep it top-of-mind. Utilize creative digital media channels such as TikTok, Snapchat, Programmatic Display, or ConnectedTV to reach your target audience with eye-catching ads that will get them excited about your institution.

After building excitement and intriguing your audience, you need to keep the momentum going, which means gathering actionable user information with a Lead Generation Campaign. One of the most important factors in a lead generation campaign is the landing page. Driving your audience to a stand-alone landing page with an RFI form that has limited fields will bring in the most leads, as it prevents users from leaving the page and getting distracted. In fact, one of our partners saw a 500% increase in leads by using a campaign-specific landing page. Reach your target audience on lead generation platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google Search Ads (formerly Adwords).

Nurture Each Lead

After collecting the digital media leads, it’s important to acknowledge their inquiry. In fact, most people expect to receive a follow-up immediately after submitting their information. Setting up a transactional email such as an Auto-responder Email is the best way to respond to the interested student right away. Use this message to share high-level information about your institution or the program and keep the reader excited for more. This type of transactional email will save you time and fulfill the interested student’s immediate needs.

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Keep the Ball Rolling

Build more engagement and further nurture your leads by setting up a series of automated emails in a Workflow Email Campaign. Due to the automated nature of this workflow, as more leads start trickling in, each individual will have their own journey through the workflow path.

Each email in this series should include relevant and targeted messages on a variety of topics that highlight your institution’s unique offerings and qualities. Develop a compelling narrative flow that will keep your readers looking forward to receiving more emails, and include information that will ultimately push them to apply.

Our partnering institutions have seen great success and an increase in applicants over the course of their workflow campaigns. In fact, one of our partners with a robust email workflow had 43% of their digital media leads submit an application this year. By communicating to your target audience on various platforms with personalized and targeted messages, your institution can expect an increase in applications. Just by setting up automated emails to nurture your prospects, your leads can turn into applicants.

Push to Apply

Drive-to-Apply campaigns on social media are a great way to further encourage prospective students to apply. With the recent changes in privacy protection rules for targeting minors, it’s even more critical to reach out to your audience through multiple channels to help yield more applicants and keep your school’s name in mind when the student is ready to start the application process.

One of our partners, a small private college in PA, started doing digital media and email campaigns with us this year—including social drive-to-apply campaigns. So far, they have seen an approximately 28% increase in applications over the last year, thanks to their use of our DM and email strategies.

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Bonus Efforts

To further support your efforts on digital media and email, another channel to communicate with prospects is text messaging. In today’s digital world, everyone is constantly on their phones, so the best way to reach students is on the device they have in their hands 24/7. According to our latest college-bound student survey, one-third of high school seniors say it’s ok for a college to text them at any point during the college search process.

We know it can be overwhelming to determine which tactics to deploy to get the best results as you move prospective students through the funnel, and that’s why we’re here to help. As you continue to refine your marketing plans for the remainder of the cycle, feel free to reach out to the Spark451 team to discuss how we can optimize your digital media, email marketing, and other campaigns to turn your prospects into applicants.