How to Impress Students and Their Parents (Virtually)

Video is king in marketing, with users spending 88% more time on websites with video. But Zoom and other video conferencing can extend the reach into a more personal realm. Together with your other marketing efforts, video conferencing can help not just with recruiting from a distance but can enhance your overall efforts by giving extensive follow-up opportunities. Making a personal connection with a student—and their parents—through video conferencing is more challenging than in person, but it can be done with a bit of extra effort.

Even as more in-person tours begin again, you may find that you will continue to use virtual tours, interviews, and special events more than in the past. In addition, with the competition for a smaller pot of prospective students increasing, you should continue to use every possible venue to recruit. Giving students, families, and your staff more options for connecting can boost your recruiting efforts from now on.

 

Personalize Virtual Campus Tours

Easily accessible video on your website allows students to take a pre-recorded video tour. But this is not the same thing as a virtual tour that encourages interaction with admissions staff and student workers to answer questions. Adding interaction can be as simple as having staff available to do small group zoom sessions with prospects where they show different campus videos, answer questions, and conduct a “responsive” tour that “goes” to areas students want to see. Or it could be a staff member walking the campus with video while interacting with the group of prospective students.

 

Another advantage of having virtual tours is that it is easier to run different sessions for parents and students, giving each group more information on the topics that particularly interest them. Being able to offer various events that cater to distinct groups of students and parents can give you the time to showcase many aspects of your institution. For example, with student-athletes, you can spend more time on sports facilities, while prospective students looking at computer science, law, or medicine may be more interested in seeing labs and libraries in detail. You can offer more thematic tours when they are virtual.

 

Offer a Mix of Tours, One-on-one sessions, Panels, and Interactive Online Events

During the pandemic, virtual events had to stand in for all the on-campus and in-person recruiting events that usually bring in applicants. As in-person starts up again, you can broaden your offerings with a mix of online events that might clinch the deal for different students. Even students who have visited but have not decided may be swayed by more virtual events that interest them. Panel discussions with students, faculty, and staff can offer insights into the experience of your school that might persuade an undecided student. Get-to-know-us events where prospects can interact with each other and current or former students can be a fun way to use technology to extend your recruiting. For students with hurdles getting to your school, one-on-one sessions can give them the support they need to make it through to orientation and registration. See if you can offer creative virtual events from places you might not expect, like the dining facilities, the dorms, a club, or a meeting room, to give prospects a unique “feel” for your campus life. An exciting mix of “live” virtual events can be a draw, and recordings of events can be useful in the future too.

 

Use Technology to Make it Easier for Prospective Students to Reach You

Once you have done great marketing to attract students to consider your school, make the steps of getting an appointment as easy as possible. Over three-quarters of customers in a Salesforce survey said that technology makes it easier for them to take their business elsewhere. You want to keep them interested in your institution, so make the ease of technology work in your favor by making it easy to schedule an appointment, preferably immediately and online. In sales, every point of friction that makes it more difficult for the customer to complete the deal—choosing your university—makes it less likely that you will enroll that potential student.

 

Another way to make accessing your admission department smoother is to offer online drop-in hours for students with questions. And don’t limit your digital efforts to Zoom meetings—meet prospects where they are comfortable: Facebook, Instagram, Google Hangouts, or any platform that will provide an enjoyable connection to extend your success in recruiting these digital native students.

 

Continuing Virtual Efforts into the Future

As in-person ramps up, you may think that continuing your virtual connections with prospects is unnecessary. Yet as international students come back into the mix, your slick virtual tools and accessibility to personalize distance recruiting will be vital to enrolling students. Adult and non-traditional learners require ways to connect around their busy schedules, making your range of digital options an advantage. Plus, now that the public has become so much more comfortable with virtual meetings, video conferencing options may entice more prospects to use the convenience to explore more schools. For better or worse, more of our lives will be conducted remotely after the pandemic. If you invest in great virtual resources for prospective students and their parents, you can make virtualization an asset rather than a hindrance to your recruiting efforts into the future.

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