While digital communication is at the center of many recruitment planning discussions, the focus should be on student preferences and actual online participation behaviors. When considering eight potential interactive marketing channels, high school students overwhelmingly prefer direct mail, email, and search engines as sources of information.
In a survey of more than 1,000 high school students nationwide, DemandEngine found that 73 percent of respondents use text messaging, while 66 percent check email, daily. In contrast, 61 percent rarely or never read blogs, while another 40 percent report the same inactivity with chat or instant messaging. Despite regular use of social media — 62 percent are on social networking sites at least daily — students are largely unreceptive to informational contact through this medium, with only nine percent stating they definitely would use the sites this way. We also found what behaviors students engage in most often online and what devices they use to get there.
In our newest research report, The Interactive Marketing Profile Of High School Students — 2012, our findings include:
- Inquirers prefer direct mail, email, and search engines as information channels
- Communication preferences increase as the relationship grows
- Students prefer channels they can control
- While students associate with college Facebook groups or pages, most activity is spectator-based
- Other online behaviors do not measure up to the hype
- Laptops and desktops still matter
College and university admission professionals seeking to earn the ‘strategic’ in the strategic enrollment management moniker should take a more calculated to their recruitment marketing efforts by:
Understanding the online participation profile and preferences of their students
By viewing high school students through a different lens — their behavior and preferences —making marketing and technology investments becomes evidence-based, rather than opinion-, or worse yet, hype-based.
Matching interactive marketing channels to support the student decision cycle
Search engine marketing works best to identify students who are actively looking for educational opportunities, while social media, texting, and phone calls are better suited to applicants — when a more definitive relationship exists. Direct mail search is still a winner to engage standardized test takers early in their decision process.
Developing a content plan
A content plan moves recruitment communications from the typical stream of visit, apply, or deposit messages to a dialogue that helps students evaluate their options and make decisions.
Open interactive channels when they can be scaled
Discuss the internal implications of each channel initiative to ensure your team, department, and institution can deliver a positive student experience.
Build a foundation first
Consider your own internal production process for a print publication versus creating and sending a promotional email. In most cases, an admission professional would never dream of printing or mailing a brochure using the same approaches that many use for email today.
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