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By Noelle Brooks

Trust Issues: 5 Ways College Marketing Can Regain Students' Confidence

With the steady rise in tuition and the increase in university scandals (Howard University for example), attracting prospective students is harder than ever. While higher education may not be for everyone, higher education can provide excellent opportunities. However, emphasizing this fact is not enough. Colleges must improve connectivity, developing personalized marketing that educates and reassures. Here are four ways that college marketing can regain students’ confidence:

Optimize Digital Presence

It is not enough to just be online. Colleges must create a digital presence that is easy to find and viewable across platforms. This means developing mobile-friendly websites using the best SEO practices. It should also be easy for people to connect. Adding a live chat feature or ways to book one-on-one tours online are great additions. Compelling content is another must. Video, particularly live streaming, is an excellent way to attract prospective students and their parents. Blog posts are the best way to accomplish this, allowing for longtail keywords to improve search rankings. Easy-to-find colleges with tons of useful resources appear more legitimate and trustworthy to students and parents. If done correctly, most concerns are addressed well before the initial application.

Diversify Social Media Strategies

Since colleges typically target younger generations, it is important to keep up with the latest platforms. Snapchat, for instance, has been an excellent way to create connections with prospective students. Universities have used this app to send announcements, provide unique geo filters and even create special events, like Tennessee Wesleyan College’s orientation scavenger hunt. With social media, the goal is to maintain continuous connections with current and prospective students while increasing brand awareness. Be wary of simply broadcasting college events and news. This creates a cold and disengaged image. It is important for universities to not only be present but fully engaged with their target demographics to earn trust and loyalty.

Create Alumni Influencers

People love a good success story. And for universities, these stories are essential to showing value. Often, alumni “where are they now” accounts are reserved for the graduation days and college newsletters. These updates are too brief and infrequent. Prospective students want to not only see the end result but the process along the way. Additionally, maintaining relationships with alumni boosts loyalty and future investment with the college. The key is to make it easy for alumni to share their story and for others to engage. Colleges can create a website dedicated to alumni news with ways for current and prospective students to connect. Another method is to follow alumni on social media. By staying up to date with what alumni are up to, colleges can identify opportunities to highlight their journey.

Give A Gift

Gift giving is an excellent college marketing strategy. Arkansas University increased their enrollment by 29% by sending a promo gift box to accepted students. While people love receiving free swag, Arkansas University’s success lied in creating something that reflected the college’s values and history. “We know that so many factors go into deciding on a college or university,” Reggie Hill, assistant vice president for advancement and director of enrollment management, said. “In this case, the boxes, which greeted potential attendees on their doorsteps, showed how eager we are to have them experience our culture and share that appreciation for our setting with us.”  When considering a similar initiative, it is crucial to reflect the college’s identity. It is not enough to send cool swag. Students need to know why they should choose your college. Make sure what you give accurately represents that reason.

These are just a few suggestions for regaining students’ confidence in higher education. Although universities have a challenging road ahead, personalizing strategies and emphasizing value goes a long way. College marketing that centers students not only improves brand reputation but moves colleges closer to their most important purpose: to change the world.

As a college-licensed company, Choice Premiums can address your college marketing needs. In addition to our curated college collection, Choice Premiums offers custom kits. Contact us at or 478-741-8888 to start your next campaign. 

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