6 Keys to Student-Centric Marketing

Key takeaways from a white paper Volt co-produced with Salesforce about creating optimized, student-centric marketing campaigns.

3 minutes
By: Aaron Stern
Sponsored by : Salesforce.org

Well-resourced, tech- and data-savvy marketing teams will be pivotal in helping higher ed through this historically difficult and transitional period (even if they have to do it with increasingly shorthanded teams). 

To help provide actionable best practices for today’s higher ed marketing teams, we partnered with Salesforce to create a guide for student-centric marketing in higher education. We surveyed 107 recently enrolled freshmen at four-year institutions about the marketing tactics they felt worked, those that came up short, and those that seemed flat-out disingenuous. Then we interviewed four dynamic leaders at the forefront of higher education marketing to get their ideas on what works, what doesn’t, and what it takes to fill the gaps in between. 

Our goal? To glean insight and introspection from various higher ed marketers about how they do what they do, what’s working, and where they think they are failing, and then stack those assessments against students’ perception of those same marketing strategies.

Here, we offer six key statistics and encapsulating quotes that highlight what we found. 

Get the full report

  1. “If we aren’t asking the kinds of questions in our professional lives on a university campus that we encourage and require students to ask in the classes that are on that same campus, we are never going to evolve,” says Kevin Tyler, an account director at SimpsonScarborough and the host of the Higher Voltage podcast, on the importance of creating an authentic brand and guiding purpose. In order to do so, institutions must take a long, hard look at exactly what they do, why they do it, how they can do it better, and who they do it for.
  2. College Websites > College Social Media Channels: We asked students to rank the most influential sources of information during their college selection processes. Out of nine options, social media channels rated lowest, with college websites beating out other influential sources of information including third-party websites and college admissions counselors. In fact, institutional websites were rated the second-most influential source of information – second only to parents or guardians. 
  3. 68%: The percentage of students we surveyed who said they expect a college or university’s digital marketing to be personalized to their interests, meaning schools that don’t offer such personalization in their web experiences or targeted digital marketing may be putting themselves at a disadvantage.
  4. “You really need to step back and look at your end goal, where you are now, and what your staff and budget are currently able to do,” says Eric Greenberg, senior director of marketing strategy at The Wharton School, on the importance of securing the right resources – internally or externally – to execute a data-driven, unified communications strategy.
  5. 30%: The percentage of surveyed students who said the way the college or university they chose to attend does not communicate with them in a way that makes them feel as valued as when they were being encouraged to apply to the institution. 
  6. 51%: The number of surveyed freshmen for whom their interest in social justice impacted their selection of coursework, reflecting the broad trend of Gen Z’s strong identification with mission-driven causes and organizations.

That’s just the beginning; to get more insights from our student survey and our panel of industry experts, visit Salesforce.org to get the full report.

Aaron Stern

Aaron Stern

Aaron Stern is the managing editor for Volt, and the director of content for eCity Interactive.

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