Higher Education Enrollment and Marketing Trends of 2024

By: Jesse Homan Feb 07, 2024

Higher Education Enrollment and Marketing Trends of 2024

Top Trends to Master in Higher Ed Enrollment & Marketing

The student journey to higher education is no longer a linear path marked by brochures and open houses. Today’s prospective students navigate a complex, non-linear landscape, demanding a strategic shift from institutions.

This shift is fueled by a wave of optimism: after years of enrollment challenges, all sectors witnessed enrollment growth in Fall 2023, continuing a positive trend into the Spring 2024 semester. Notably, public two-year colleges experienced significant gains for the second consecutive term, marking a promising resurgence.

Simply keeping pace with the current higher education trends isn’t enough. Universities and colleges must proactively connect with prospective students across their frequent channels to combat the rising cost-per-enrollment and convert them efficiently. By creating compelling interactions, schools can build genuine connections that resonate.

Is your institution prepared to navigate this dynamic and ever-shifting terrain? Dive deeper into these five key trends to discover proven strategies to connect with the next generation of learners, grow your enrollment, and secure your institution’s future success.

Five Key Trends in Higher Education Marketing and Student Engagement

Trend 1: Increase focus on emerging marketing channels

As there are more and more streaming services, there’s a notable shift in how people consume media. As more streaming options vie for attention, individuals crave background noise without the commitment of undivided attention, all while keeping a keen eye on their budgets. Enter free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) – a solution that’s swiftly gaining traction.

Connected TV (CTV) and FAST platforms aren’t just trends; they’re becoming essential channels to connect with potential students in higher education marketing. In fact, FAST is now a staple for 47% of households, totaling a staggering 83.7 million viewers weekly.

In an era marked by subscription fatigue, where consumers are inundated with numerous paid streaming options, the allure of cost-free access to FAST services is particularly appealing. This no-cost entry point makes FAST an attractive platform for reaching prospective students who may be seeking free, high-quality content.

For higher education, leveraging FAST means more than just reaching a wider audience. It’s about delivering diverse, relevant content that resonates with students across various interests, from news to entertainment and beyond.

By harnessing the expansive reach, no-cost accessibility, and diverse viewing experiences offered by Connected TV and FAST platforms, institutions can effectively captivate and cultivate relationships with prospective students.

Trend 2: Invest in website content and optimization

An institution’s website is more than just a digital brochure—it’s the frontline of engagement, the virtual welcome mat for potential students. With over 69% of students initiating their school selection process by visiting websites, the significance of a well-optimized online presence cannot be overstated.

A static website won’t cut it in today’s fast-paced digital landscape. Continuously investing in website optimization and content creation is essential to truly stand out and resonate with prospective students.

Websites are the cornerstone of every digital strategy—a dynamic platform where information meets interaction. From crucial details like costs and admission requirements to immersive content that connects prospective students with the future they envision, your website serves as the ultimate resource hub for prospective students.

A website that’s finely calibrated for search engine optimization (SEO) and promotes effortless user navigation is essential for any institution that wants to thrive in today’s digital world. Focusing on SEO is crucial for gaining visibility and increases the chances of appearing in search engine results when students are looking for information related to your institution.

Yet, despite the recognition of SEO’s importance, a staggering 49% of higher education marketing departments are missing the mark by lacking a specific plan for its incorporation. This oversight not only hampers online visibility but also presents a barrier for potential students seeking information and connection.

In the competitive landscape of higher education, a well-optimized website isn’t just an asset—it’s a strategic advantage. It’s your ticket to delivering a personalized, immersive experience that captures attention, drives engagement, and sets your institution apart from the rest. So, invest wisely, optimize relentlessly, and watch as your website becomes a beacon of opportunity for prospective students.

Trend 3: Leverage multi-channel nurturing for increased student engagement

Think about the prospective students who are on the receiving end of your marketing efforts. What would turn them from ‘someone who is aware of your college or university’ to ‘somebody who might consider enrolling against all the readily available alternatives?

Introducing multi-channel nurturing is a smart strategy that goes beyond old-school marketing to build strong bonds with potential and current students. Schools can make sure every interaction feels connected and smooth by using different communication methods, like email, social media, personalized websites, and texts.

But here’s where the magic happens: personalization. It’s the secret ingredient that elevates engagement, conversion, and loyalty. By harnessing data insights to tailor the student experience, institutions can cultivate deeper connections that resonate on a personal level.

Personalization is key. Utilizing data to tailor the student experience enhances engagement, enrollment, revenue, and satisfaction, increasing revenue by 10%-40%.

A multi-channel approach allows institutions to create tailored student journeys. This leads to higher engagement, enrollment, and satisfaction. Institutions foster repeat engagement and loyalty by targeting the right students with the right message at the right time.

Data-driven personalization drives repeat engagement, stronger brand reputation, and higher return on investment. It’s a valuable strategy for higher education institutions seeking to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Trend 4: Prioritize value-focused information

Between glossy brochures and targeted ads, standing out feels like an uphill battle. But amidst the information overload, one question resonates: Are we truly connecting with students, or are we adding to the noise?

Imagine a marketing message that doesn’t just grab attention but speaks directly to your aspirations. It doesn’t bombard you with features but instead paints a clear picture of how your education translates into fulfilling your goals. That’s the power of value-focused marketing.

Sure, many students seek basic program details: availability, cost, and logistics. But a significant 22% dig deeper, craving insights into the program’s true worth and lasting impact. These students seek more than just a degree; they’re investing in their future.

Here’s how to tap into that desire for value:

  • Highlight curriculum quality: Showcase the program’s rigor, unique offerings, and faculty expertise. Show, don’t tell, how this curriculum equips students for success.
  • Emphasize accreditation: Explain how accreditation translates to industry recognition and opens doors to coveted career paths.
  • Paint a picture of potential: Don’t just list career outcomes; tell stories. Feature alumni testimonials, showcase real-world applications, and ignite the spark of possibility.

By focusing on genuine value, your marketing messages transform from noise to compelling narratives. You attract students who see your program as an investment in their future, not just another checkbox on their to-do list. Remember, it’s not about shouting the loudest; it’s about resonating the deepest.

Trend 5: Focus on student engagement

Forget the one-and-done approach. Today’s successful higher ed institutions understand – engaged students become enrolled students. They’re not just browsing – they’re asking questions, attending events, and actively interacting with your brand. This journey of engagement, paved with micro-conversions, leads to higher application rates and ultimately, a thriving student body.

Every click, download, or webinar signup is a micro-conversion, a step deeper into your funnel. Each action reveals valuable insights and fuels their investment in your institution.

By tracking these micro-conversions, you gain a treasure trove of data. Use it to understand your audience’s interests, tailor messaging, and refine your strategy in real time. Did a specific LinkedIn ad spark more engagement? Double down on it. Are blog posts about career outcomes driving downloads? Create more!

Remember, an engaged student is pre-sold. They’ve interacted with your brand, explored your offerings, and demonstrated genuine interest. They’re halfway through the application process, needing just a gentle nudge to cross the finish line.

Take a real-world example: a graduate law school saw a 38% improvement in cost-per-application by using targeted LinkedIn conversation ads. They nurtured prospects, answered questions, and guided them toward enrollment. The result? A 45% increase in applications driven by these micro-conversions!

Don’t just chase big wins. Embrace the power of micro-conversions. Track, analyze, and adapt your strategy based on their valuable insights. Remember, every click, download, and interaction paves the way for engaged students and a thriving future for your institution.

Future-Proofing Enrollment Strategies: Insights from Higher Education and Enrollment Management Benchmarks

Feeling overwhelmed by the ever-shifting trends in higher education marketing? You’re not alone. Keeping pace with student expectations and adapting strategies can feel like a constant uphill battle.

But take a deep breath! By embracing these key trends, you can transform your enrollment marketing and attract the next generation of learners. This blog post provided a snapshot of five crucial areas to focus on, but remember, achieving enrollment success is an ongoing process.

To truly thrive in this dynamic landscape, dive deeper into the insights and actionable strategies offered in our complimentary Higher Education Benchmarks Report. This comprehensive resource delivers:

  • Data-driven insights on emerging channels like Connected TV and FAST platforms, helping you maximize reach and impact.
  • Practical guidance for crafting a website that converts, with optimization tips and personalized content strategies.
  • Expert advice on nurturing leads like a pro through multi-channel engagement and personalization techniques.
  • Actionable steps for delivering value-focused messaging that resonates with students’ aspirations.
  • Proven strategies for harnessing the power of micro-conversions to fuel enrollment success.

Don’t let the fear of change hold you back. Download the Higher Education Marketing and Enrollment Management Benchmarks Report today and take the first step towards a bright future.

This valuable resource empowers you to adapt, evolve, and attract the students who will shape your institution’s success.