Tips for Recruiting Millennials to Your College
May 23, 2016
Instead of another article on how to leverage Snapchat or Pinterest or Periscope – this post is going to focus on your audience, Millennials. Here are a few important strategies you need to implement in order to see greater success recruiting millennials.
Don’t target Millennials. That’s right, you read that correctly. And the reason this is #1 is because there are many different segments within the large generational group referred to as Millennials. This group ranges from high school to people in their mid-30’s. Some are single, others are married with kids. Some live at home with Mom and Dad, others have a mortgage. Do some research and identify those that are already successful at your college, then find out where there are more just like them!
Segmentation and Personas. This requires research so you can understand what their wants, needs, expectations and perceptions are as well as how they go about gathering and analyzing information so that they can make an informed decision. And it requires a content marketing strategy that delivers.
Personalization. This is way more than being able to start off each email with their first name. It’s asking the right questions, gathering the right information and using that to continue the conversation. Asking for “Desired Term Start” on the web form needs to lead to messages from you that tie that information in – so if they told you next Spring, don’t push tomorrow’s start date on them because it isn’t relevant. If they told you “MA in Teaching”, don’t send them information about other programs. If you show them testimonials from recent graduates, make sure they graduated from the program the prospective student is interested in. Holding an open house in Dallas? Then why promote it to all prospects regardless of location? Do you really expect them to fly in for the event?
Mobile focused. If you send them emails that aren’t optimized for mobile, you have a problem. If that email has links that take them to your website that isn’t optimized for mobile, you have a problem.
Social media. Have a strategy. And remember that the prospective student is going to have a variety of interests so maybe one university-wide Facebook Page isn’t the answer. Does the Colleges within the University need their own social media presence? What about Programs within those Colleges? What about other departments like Career Services, Student Services, Athletics…
Identify and utilize key influencers. People buy from people. People buy from people especially when the purchase is a major purchase. College is a major purchase – yet many colleges seem to push marketing technology between themselves and the potential student. Instead, put your faculty, admissions staff, current students and alumni in the mix. Feature them in your communications – have a faculty member hold a live broadcast on Facebook. Do the same with a member of the financial aid department using Periscope. And yes, depending on the age group, include the potential student’s parents in your strategy and communications; because, in a lot of cases Mom and Dad are the key influencers and are still footing the bill or at the very least contributing to it’s payment.
They want “career opportunity”, build it into the experience. When I went to college, the focus was on learning, developing critical thinking skills and preparing for life. Today, Millennials are focused on this investment into their career so show them how your college and their program of interest delivers. Bring in alumni to talk about their experiences – the good, the bad and ugly. Bring in community and corporate leaders to do the same. Set up internships and volunteer opportunities – incorporating them into the curriculum when you can.
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.