Leveraging Current and Former Students in Higher Education Internet Marketing

By May 12, 2014 No Comments

At times, marketing managers may be left scratching their heads when deciding how to attract more students towards their programs. While the Higher Education Marketing Journal covers a number of areas for improvement, one way in particular is taking advantage of the resources already present in the university community, specifically students and alumni. Universities generally have a wealth of information about their students and can use this information to boost their Internet marketing campaigns.
From this knowledge, a marketer can surmise many statistics of their students such as the average age, gender, and undergraduate study choices. This information, which is attained mainly through admission’s paper work and transcripts, is useful to marketers in a number of areas. Primarily, it is essential in understanding the target audience and creating accurate student personas. Knowing, in detail, the various student personas that choose a program, is an incredibly important facet in creating a detailed and focused online marketing campaign.
With a clear understanding of the students that are attracted to a program, a marketer can put together a targeted strategy that speaks directly to this audience. For example, a Master of Science in Health Law may attract a female audience aged 40-50, while a Master of Computer Information Systems may attract a male audience aged 25-35. When positioned correctly, a university’s brand and unique value propositions can attract a different audience than the same program at a different university. Marketers must understand their students in order to foster their targeting, tone, and value propositions towards the correct audience. Learn more about unique value propositions in our earlier post.

Leveraging Student Information 

There is no denying the benefits of utilizing landing pages in an Internet marketing campaign. In order to optimize these landing pages to be well received by perspective students, marketers can use the information generated by current and former students. The tone, imagery, and value propositions offered in these campaigns should be targeted toward their students. In addition to the landing pages, a university can use this content across many pages of their website to help offer prospective students additional information.
Apart from understanding a target student market, as mentioned before, marketers can also use current student images, quotes, and testimonials, as well as alumni images, quotes, and highlights. Putting together clean and informative student and alumni highlights such as this one below from the University of Southern California Online LL.M. program can appeal to the many prospective students that visit a university website.


An alternative way to utilize current and former students on a university website is by making a video of student testimonials. These student clips can be combined with segments speaking to the unique value propositions of the university, as well as commentary of faculty and staff. These videos are easily consumable and affective in establishing a connection between prospective students and a university brand. Here is an example of a video testimonial created by the University of Florida’s Distance Learning website:


Alumni Highlights on University Websites

While current student profiles and testimonials are excellent in helping with the conversion process of an Internet marketing campaign, alumni can also be used in the same manner. Many students pursue higher education in order to boost their careers, and by offering highlights of alumni who are successful, these students get a first hand look at the ROI of their investment. Take a look at this following portion of an alumna highlight profile from Johns Hopkins University.


Leveraging Students to Boost Social Media Campaigns

Taking advantage of what a university has to offer is an easy and quick way to find content for social media campaigns. Each student profile, alumni highlight, and video testimonial has the potential to reach a large social media audience, as well as stimulate engagements and dialogue surrounding the program. Complemented by quality images, social posts can be constructed around this previously created content.
Marketers can also take the time to reach out to current students in order to build a repertoire of student testimonials and images. Similarly, alumni can be contacted for updates on their careers and quotes about their experiences with a program. If the alumni are eager to work with the program, they may be willing to develop into a brand ambassador for the program and assist in spreading the message of program success across social media. Take a look at this Facebook post highlighting an alumnus from Ohio University’s Online Coaching Education program.


As the competitiveness of the online higher education field continues to increase, marketers must be savvy in finding ways to attract students and build their brand awareness. An important piece of this puzzle is taking advantage of the content currently housed by the university community, as well as the connections to current and former students. Creating and sharing fresh, quality content will continue to be an incredibly important facet to the field of Internet marketing, and gathering the resources already available is an easy and effective way to pursue this strategy.

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