5 Digital Marketing Strategies to Combat Declining Enrollment Yields

Enrollment and graduation rates continue to decline. Even if your school has a stellar reputation and full applicant pool, you’re likely feeling the pinch of declining enrollment yields amid increased competition. To ensure that your applicants actually become enrollments, you need to continue to do what you already do well: provide great programs that educate well and prepare graduates for rewarding professions.

But that’s not enough.            

Your good reputation is only part of the equation. High school students in their freshman year opt for colleges and universities with big names, but as senior year approaches, their choices evolve. The Ivies take a significant hit in popularity and in-state public colleges bump up in prospects’ esteem.1

How do you make sure that you’re among those students’ top choices? Use some of the ESM Digital marketing strategies:

  1. Protect your reputation. Your school’s reputation may only be part of the equation, but it remains a very important part. Be vigilant. Have a PR and social media strategy in place to defend its honor and that of your students and graduates; they want to be proud of their alma mater. And no, reputation management cannot be left to an intern. Posting and responding on social media platforms must be thoughtful, precise, and integrated into an overall marketing strategy that puts forth a consistent brand voice.


  1. Foster your school brand. Start with your mission statement and consider your value proposition. What is it that you are able to provide to students that other institutions cannot? Consider your audience. Who are your most successful students and how do you attract more men and women who resemble them? Each division, major, program, and department will likely have its own tone, but they all must consistently adhere to your school’s unique brand.


  1. Evolve your website. Take a hard look at your existing site and make certain it is built on sound search engine optimization principles and full of robust content. Always consider the user. Your website should be easy to navigate, answer users’ questions and point them toward a next step. And it should capture data like name, contact info, and possible program interests. Don’t miss an opportunity to connect with your future students because you ignored their visits to your website.


  1. Tell your story. Produce and disseminate content across social media that tells the story of your school and its students. Everything is content. From the blog post you house on that SEO-built website to the email you send to someone who visited a landing page they found through a digital ad. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to reach prospective students, their parents and their friends. Create a digital word-of-mouth blitz to engage with current and future students and stay top of mind as college decisions are made.


  1. Track the analytics. What good are great digital marketing strategies and campaigns if you can’t measure their results? Track all you do so you can see what works and what doesn’t. Combine data from individual campaigns with information from Admissions and Alumni Relations. It’s the marriage of big and small data that will yield you the best information about enrollment yield and show how you can improve yours.

Were these five strategies helpful? We have more! Contact the HigherEd Geeks at ESM Digital to find out how we help clients effectively target applicants who are more likely to enroll, stay, succeed, and graduate.

~Linda Emma

1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/05/02/how-high-school-seniors-really-pick-the-colleges-they-attend-new-report/?utm_term=.0c01936782a1