Okay, it’s Topseyturveyville out there, but you can do this!

COVID-19 has us living in unprecedented times. Sure, transcripts are going to be a hassle and May 1 might move by a month or two or … more. But you understand enrollment. It’s always something. For once, maybe you don’t feel so alone in the fact that the universe is fighting you for every last matriculated student. The universe is fighting everyone for those students. In a way, the playing field has leveled. As fellow humans, we’re going to have to chart a new course to get high school students (who have frankly been through the ringer) to find the right college for themselves, probably without being able to visit. And after finding that right college, they are going to need to be vetted, maybe without standardized scores. Their families will have to find a way to pay for college, even if they’ve lost jobs amid the pandemic. And somehow, come August, they will have to start college either in your classrooms or on their couches.

It’s a tall order and a tight timeline, but you can do this. As we all pull together to navigate these murky waters, our team at The Parish Group has developed a cheat sheet of items to keep top of mind. From where we sit, these are ideas that can become your best resources going forward:

IP Targeting

  • Banner ads
  • Retargeting past visitors
  • Geotargeting

With fewer names available to you from SAT and ACT this year, it will be important to create a robust inquiry pool through current inquiries, site visitors, online data and alternative sources. Technology exists for you to develop look-alike profiles based on historic enrollment data and design advertising around those profiles and behaviors.

Pro-tip: You can take this tactic while being budget-conscious! Just focus on your primary market saturation to maximize efficiency and deliver higher percentage yields.

Paid Search Advertising

  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • PlayStation
  • Xbox
  • Roku
  • Disney+

There’s a good chance that even good IP targeting won’t fully replace the numbers you were expecting from SAT and ACT lists. To reel in more prospects and to manage impressions for your current contacts, you’ll have to stay visible and present. The relationship between you and your target families is becoming less of a two-way street and you’ll need to do a lot of the “going.” Now, more than ever, advertising through digital entertainment platforms will be key. Utilize industry research to strategically place compelling ads within platforms that rank as best fits for your prime targets.

Pro-tip: If you don’t have ads already created that you find compelling, it’s possible to stitch together quality advertisements with some time and elbow grease. Between student success stories and current photo/video assets, you may have more than you think!

Social Media

  • Audit of current platforms
  • Creation of content calendars
  • Staff training for best practices with admissions
  • Review of digital assets for building virtual experiences

In absence of any student’s ability to tour your campus or meet an admissions counselor at a college fair, it must be easy to fact-find and relationship-build through your school’s social media channels. Are your admissions counselors adequately trained to recruit and matriculate students from their homes? Are you using your current assets as creatively as possible to allow for a true taste of campus life online? While you can pay to advertise on social media, our thought here is to fully exercise your relationship-building muscles. Get your team excited about recruiting students in a new, highly-personalized way.

Pro-tip: One of the biggest struggles with running a captivating social media presence is developing unique and engaging content. Generate new ideas from your staff as a team-building exercise. (Bonus: Award the best idea a small Amazon gift card!) There’s no telling what new idea for a contest, story or brag will rise to the top and be a great source of buzz. This is a cheap way to make your team feel heard while brainstorming and maintaining a culture that’s warm and fun.

Requested Student Contact

  • Call campaigns
  • Text campaigns
  • Personalized email series
  • Direct mail flows

We’ve already seen an uptick in high schoolers willing to answer their phones. A study earlier this week showed 89% of students want to hear from colleges via email! And two thirds of students are hoping to hear from you weekly OR MORE! Like we said, Topseyturveyville, everyone. Are you ready to make use of these newly available, affable students? One call campaign we recently managed pulled from a list of 6,000 students that were supposed to be a dead-end. This last-ditch effort to information gather landed our client with 100 new students to enroll. No matter how you choose to communicate to students going forward, you’ll need to put the campus experience into words, pictures and videos in a way that is more personalized and compelling than it’s ever been before.

Pro-tip:  Even if you’re happy with your current campaigns, be sure to check your messaging! Many schools use a “Schedule a Visit!” button in their Junior communication and if this is the case for you, you’ll need to drive a different call to action.

Deep breath. Lots of hats to wear and lots of balls to juggle. You can do this. And if you decide you’d like a sidekick, we’re here to help!

Your team at The Parish Group