Picking what university or college to attend can be one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. It represents a huge investment of time and money, all with the hope of being part of a learning environment and obtaining a degree that will lead to a successful career.
Due to the magnitude of this decision, both prospective students and their parents often take part in the research process. Naturally, both groups might approach the selection process with trepidation, each with their different sets of criteria they would want the higher education institution to meet.
For example, as reported by Times Higher Education, the 2017 International Student Survey found that the following factors were most-commonly chosen as being the most important to international students when seeking a suitable higher education institution:
- High-quality teaching (30.0 percent picked this as being the most important)
- The availability of scholarships (29.9 percent)
- The institution being well ranked (23.5 percent)
However, this may not necessarily be the case for their parents, whose ranking of most important factors might differ.
To craft a marketing strategy that best speaks to the needs of both groups, it is crucial for institutions to grasp their needs and expectations across their respective customer journeys.
This is where the Voice of the Student comes into play.
In this post, I look at two of the different ways Voice of the Student insights can help you transform your Higher Education marketing strategy.
Confirm and improve the brand perception of your institution
A Higher Education institution’s reputation and brand perception, like any other brand, is an intangible characteristic that can play a key role in attracting prospective students.
From the quality of the education they will receive to how they will be viewed by future employers; brand perception can strongly impact a prospective students’ decision to apply.
Conducting Voice of the Student research not only enables you to easily measure what your audience thinks of your institution, but it also allows you to gauge where you stand compared to other institutions based on different attributes.
Let’s look at a fictional State University, whose goal is to position themselves as “dynamic, innovative and unique”. By collecting customer feedback, State U can determine not only how successful they are in radiating these attributes, but they can also see how they compare to other institutions:
From this example, you can see that two institutions (positioned in the top-right quadrant) are perceived as being more “dynamic, innovative and unique” than State University.
Also, by simply segmenting their feedback to focus solely on parents, State U can perform this exercise to see how they perceive the university. This could help them identify where some of the biggest gaps in brand perception currently are between students and parents, as well as help them determine the specific factors to address when devising their marketing messages to these two groups.
By understanding the perception of your institution and how you compare to others in your space, you can better craft the approach you may want to take in your marketing campaigns to outclass the competition.
Optimize your marketing message for each channel
Prospective students and parents now have the tools at their disposal to give them more control over the selection process than ever before.
They can now learn everything they need to know about your institution with the click of a button, whether it's through your website, on social media or videos you post on YouTube, just to name a few.
Each of their interactions with your brand can ultimately influence their final decision. With this in mind, it’s important to consider that communicating the same homogeneous message to both prospective students and parents across all your channels could potentially alienate your audience.
That’s why Voice of the Student data is essential; it can provide you with a granular understanding of what message works best for each channel for both parents and students.
For example, below are some of the different ways a prospective student might have learned about our fictional State University, examined alongside the different reasons why they visited your website:
For instance, we can see that of the prospective students who learned about State University via an ‘online search’, over half of them are looking to apply. This could indicate that State U should optimize its SEO strategy to focus on application-related content.
Plus, you could dig even further into this segment and determine whether students may have different expectations and perceptions of your brand depending on how they first accessed your website (Check out the example in the previous section).
With a Voice of the Student program in place, you gain a unique understanding of the effectiveness of each advertising dollar you spend and how to optimize each dollar.
Higher Education Institutions + Voice of the Student = Improved Marketing Strategy
When it comes to learning more about your prospective students and their parents, sometimes you don’t know unless you ask.
Whether you are trying to improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns or looking to increase enrollment, customer feedback provides a gateway into the minds of your audience to better understand what you can you do to meet their needs better and become a top-of-mind institution.
The examples I’ve provided in this post are just some of the ways you can leverage the power of Voice of the Student research to optimize your marketing strategies. To learn more about how feedback can help you gain the insights to meet your specific needs, make sure to book a demo with one of our experts today.
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