Online education has taken large steps towards a highly regarded and powerful industry over the past decade. Increased trust toward these types of degrees have stemmed from elite, traditional universities emerging in the online higher education market. The continued development in communication technologies and an increase in savvy online tools have cleared the air of a once cloudy online learning environment.
With this open window into higher education, the current workforce has an opportunity to expand their knowledge and gain graduate level degrees while continuing their day-to-day responsibilities. Universities are investing in professors and tools to provide top-notch education to their future students. Students are using the tools at their disposal to find the right program for their goals.
Higher education institutions are faced with the challenge of shifting from traditional marketing tactics (billboard, print ads, brochures, radio, etc.) to newer methods in order to strategically place their brand in the sights of prospective students. The competitive nature of online higher education is pushing institution’s marketing teams towards new platforms such as SnapChat, Instagram, and new video marketing tactics.
How Do Prospective Students Find Their Online Program?
Today, students pursing online degrees search for them, you guessed it, online. 67% of prospective students use search engines as their first source of information for higher education institutions, so it is more important than ever to have an active presence on major search engines in order to get your program and brand in front of potential students. The video below, created by our content team at Circa Interactive, provides a quick run through of the top 6 ways that students find degree programs online.
Organic search is the natural, unpaid search that occurs on search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). If your website is optimized for your core keywords and ranks in the search results, organic traffic is a flow of free visitors to your website. Even better, if your website is on the first page of results for a keyword (ex. Master in engineering program), you are in a good position to receive these free visits.
Fun Fact: Over 70% of users click on a result on the first page.
While organic search is the natural results shown when a user searches in a search engine, paid search is just the opposite. As shown in the video, paid ads appear on the top, sides, and bottom of the Google search results. These ads are shown based on the search query a prospective student used and a generally marked with the word ‘Ad.’
Fun Fact: 64% of users click on a paid ad when they’re looking to purchase a product or service.
Similar to organic search, organic social are the general social posts shared by individuals, institutions, or companies. Popular platforms for universities to leverage to place their programs in front of students are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Fun Fact: 38% of users are influenced by a school’s social media engagement
Paid social ads are the ads you see in social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These advertisements are a proven way to generate students for an online program. Paid social ads are able to be targeted to very specific groups of potential students.
Fun Fact: 57% of students use social media to research universities.
Another way to place your program and brand in front of potential students is to use the respectable faculty and stakeholders at your university. Through a multichannel PR approach, students are able to see professors published in major news outlets such as Wired, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and more.
Fun Fact: The Huffington Post has 33,647,468 unique visitors per month.
While Digital PR works to land opportunities for professors in news outlets and publications around the web, display advertising places highly focused visual advertisements on these same websites. These powerful advertisements are proven to generate high quality traffic to a program’s webpage.
Fun Fact: The Google Display Network includes more than 2 million sites.
While the 6 avenues for student acquisition highlighted in the video cover most of the options available, there are many other tactics for savvy marketers to leverage to place their brand in front of prospective students. To find out how to locate students for your program, drop us a line here.
Frederic has three years experience in higher education content marketing and search engine optimization. Working with Circa Interactive, he has gained valuable experience in paid search, analytics, SEO strategy, and client management. Follow him on Twitter: @