The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in the way many businesses attract customers, and higher education is no exception. With the shortage of in-person open houses and recruitment fairs, universities and colleges have had to pivot in order to remain competitive and attract new students. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, total postsecondary enrollment has declined by 4.2% since the onset of the pandemic.
To stay relevant, connect with potential students, boost site conversions and ultimately increase applications, there’s one not-so-secret marketing tool that can make all the difference: video.
Check out a video overview of the blog below:
Why is Video a Compelling Marketing Strategy for Universities?
Video not only captures attention, but it triggers an emotional response. When video content is targeted at the right audience, video can lead to higher engagement and higher conversions (when a student decides to apply). Because video is given priority on search engine results pages (SERPs), it’s become the prime format of content for attracting new audiences online (Video is also 50x more likely to get organic ranking than text). That’s key for any industry looking to expand their reach and stand out among competitors.
Another reason choose video as a marketing strategy for universities, is that it paints a more accurate picture of your school community. Your student body is diverse, and that’s worth being showcased. The real faces and voices of your students and faculty are much more impactful than text on a page or a scripted, studio-produced video ad.
Check out the student video example below for UCLA:
Peer-to-Peer Marketing Works
Think of your best students and alumni as influencers. Their success stories can work magic to inspire potential students and convince them to apply to a specific program. Marketing research shows that 90% of people are more likely to trust a brand recommendation, even from a stranger. Humans are better convinced by other humans than by an advertisement, no matter how well-scripted, well-shot or well-edited that ad is.
Capturing authentic video content using your students and alumni can admittedly be a daunting task, especially if video has not been part of the marketing mix previously. Below are five ways to harness video to help attract prospective students and market higher education programs.
1. Inspire With Your Alumni
Start doing some alumni research, if it’s not already part of your marketing strategy:
- Who are the school’s most successful or influential graduates? This doesn’t have to be the highest-earning. Consider anyone who has done something meaningful that might be inspiring to future students.
- What program did they graduate from, and what skills might they have learned in that program that they could be applying to their role now?
It doesn’t hurt to reach out and ask for a school or program testimonial. Many alumni are proud to support their higher education institutions — especially those who have gone far with their skills and degrees. While the logistics of bringing them in to film a video testimonial can be challenging, it helps to plan ahead. Consider the questions they would answer on camera that might get the best reviews about your school.
- What made you enroll in X school / X program?
- What was the most memorable or valuable part of your education?
- How did your degree prepare you for your future career?
- What advice would you give to potential students?
Videos don’t need to be long or studio-produced with music or fancy visuals. Authentic, no-frills interviews can be powerful on their own.
2. Highlight Your USP
What makes your university (or a specific program) different from what competing schools are offering? Maybe your program has the highest placement rates in a specific industry or the most expert professors. If you’re in charge of marketing a school or its programs, chances are the answers came to mind easily. But not everyone is as familiar with your university’s selling points, and it’s hard to convey that information online. People are unlikely to read long amounts of text on web pages. Video is the best format to transmit information (and make sure it stays top of mind). Data shows that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to only 10% via text.
A video that strategically mentions your institution’s USPs is a surefire way to transmit the value proposition. Keep in mind that it should be short and attention-grabbing to really work in terms of raising awareness. It should be shared on your site, on YouTube and on social media networks to access a large audience of potential students.
3. Show Off Your Campus
This is another element that a marketing team might take for granted without realizing how appealing it could be to a high school student. Does your school have an impressive facade or building that might make a future student feel proud to attend? Does it have a renovated dormitory with comfortable rooms and trendy shared spaces?
More than ever, people are concerned with comfortable, enjoyable living arrangements (after spending so many months in COVID-19 lockdown). Showcasing outdoor areas, gyms, shared spaces and dorm rooms is a great way to introduce potential students to your campus and help them imagine the positive life experience that education at your institution could provide them.
4. Optimize Your Online Presence
Today, SEO is crucial for making sure your institution reaches the largest number of potential students online (along with a fast-loading website and user-friendly design, of course). Video SEO can help drive traffic to your site, but to make your video content live up to its potential, you should be familiar with how video SEO works. Here are a few aspects to pay attention to:
- Keywords: Find the best words to use in your videos with popular tools such as SEMRush or Answer The Public, which lets you find the specific terms and questions that are likely to bring in the most traffic (and get the most views). You might even discover questions that potential students are asking about your university and not finding answers to.
- Titles: Almost all hosting sites will ask you to title your video. If you want search engines to index and rank your video correctly, aim to include your primary keywords.
- Tags: Tags are short descriptors used to help search engines deliver content that’s relevant to users. Different sites will have different rules about how many tags you can include, but you should be able to include all your target keywords here.
- Descriptions: Video descriptions should be written with SEO best practices in mind. Aim for a high-quality, relevant description with good keyword density.
- Transcripts: A video transcript (in essence, a text version of all that is said within your video) lets Google “crawl” the content and show it more often when it’s relevant. It’s an important tool for improving views, engagement, and search engine rank.
5. Stay in Touch
Chances are your institution is already on social media (if not, please stop reading this and go set up your accounts immediately). Your social channels (such as Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook) are a place for your video content to come alive and work powerfully through every stage of the student journey: from the initial stage when a would-be student is first considering university to the hours they spend researching their shortlist, to the decision factor that comes with application, to the process of remaining connected and loyal to their institution once they’re accepted and enrolled.
Newsletters sent by e-mail are another key marketing tool and can be a great way to share your video content with prospective and current students, faculty and staff, and alumni. If you’re not already sending out an e-newsletter, consider implementing this as part of your marketing strategy. It’s versatile and can also be used to share announcements, important information, feel-good school “wins” and more.
Market Your University with StoryTap
StoryTap is a patented video creation platform that helps businesses and institutions create authentic, engaging videos starring your very own students, staff and alumni, from testimonials to campus culture videos to program explainers. StoryTap works seamlessly with your own marketing team and existing strategy; it’s an affordable, easily-implemented tool that helps your school do way more with less resources. Video doesn’t have to be time-consuming or budget-busting. Our automation tech makes it easy to create volumes of content at a fraction of the cost of studio production. All videos include SEO metadata added by our savvy team and are fully owned by you to share across multiple channels and add to your site (with light code and ultra-easy integration).
Book a demo and see how our user-friendly tech can transform the way your institution connects with potential students and current ones.