Marketing to a Younger Generation: How to Market Your University to Prospective Students

When it comes to marketing to a younger generation, digital marketing is a second to none strategy for most companies, especially for higher education institutions. Why? Chances are most of your prospective students fall under Generation Z, aka the “digital ninjas.” With 95% of them having a smartphone, and 88% having a desktop or laptop computer, it comes as no surprise that prospective students resort to Google and other online platforms for college information. As a result, we wanted to share 5 digital marketing best practices to market your universities to prospective students and connect with them at places where they spend most of their time.


1. Who Should You Be Targeting? 

It’s easy to position upcoming first-year students as your primary focus, and in most cases, they indeed are the driving force behind college enrollment. However, it’s important to remember people other than students that might be researching colleges right now, like parents or grandparents of high school students. Especially for undergraduate degrees, parents often have an influence on college decision making. When targeting these different groups like students and their parents, it’s important to remember to keep your messaging and platform consistent with the audience. For example, students are more active on newer social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, while parents tend to stick with old-fashioned Facebook.


2. Which Digital Platforms Should You Use? 

I’m sure you have heard about all the social media and search engine marketing in digital marketing, but what platforms can you utilize to get results?


  • Google Adwords: Utilizing Google Ads can help you get in front of users when they are searching for schools like yours. The best part? You only pay for results, like a click to your website or a call to your admissions office.


  • Facebook/ Instagram: Facebook Ads Manager allows you to put ads on both Facebook and Instagram. Facebook targeting offers a variety of targeting options to assist you to find the right audience. These options include demographic targeting, interest targeting, lookalike, and retargeting. Universities could utilize social media to reach the right audience and get their brand out there. Especially for prospective students who are not aware of your college, Facebook/Instagram is a good place to start.


3. Cluster Similar Programs Together For PPC  

Have you been intimidated by the thought of creating specific ads for each program? Clustering programs make the campaign creation process more efficient and allows students to explore similar programs as most of them are still weighing their options.


4. Messaging  

Finding the messages that resonate with your target audience could help turn that impression into clicks. The best answer to that is testing, testing, testing. Feel free to test different messaging on different audiences, locations, and platforms and stick with the best performing one. Great messages should catch students’ attention, keep them interested, and entice engagement while a strong call to action phrase in your ad copy will direct them on what to do in the next step.


5. Spice Up Your Organic Social Media Content 

Did you know that students often check out a school’s social media account for more information? This makes creating student-friendly content extremely important. A recent trend we notice from universities is to showcase “a day in the life of current students.” Let your current students take over your social media account for a day to share classes, events, what it is like during lunch, and more.  Feel free to utilize Instagram polls and the ask a question feature to make your content more engaging. Featuring alumni stories on your social media is also a great way to build a strong brand around your college.

Are you looking to take things digital with your higher ed marketing strategy? The Digital Hyve is a full service digital-marketing agency that can help you get your message in front of the right audience, on the right platform, with the right messages. Reach out for a digital marketing plan tailored to your institution.