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Implementing a robust paid and multi-channel strategy is pivotal for engaging both prospective students and alumni effectively. Marketing strategies can be leveraged to drive engagement, foster relationships, and elevate brand presence. A well-crafted multi-channel marketing strategy serves as a strong recruitment tool, facilitator of quick dissemination and announcements, and drives community-building efforts. By addressing the interests of both students and alumni, institutions can cultivate meaningful connections and foster engagement.

Engaging students and alumni across various channels, such as paid ads, direct mail, and social media, maximizes opportunities for enrollment and alumni engagement. Consistent communication is key, with experts recommending between 7 and 12 touchpoints to effectively engage prospects. Distributing valuable and relevant content through blog posts, infographics, videos, and direct mail attracts and engages a diverse audience. Engaging content, such as student and alumni success stories, case studies, and testimonials, serves as compelling proof of an institution's excellence and value proposition. Hosting giveaways, competitions, and scholarship programs further enhances engagement and attracts attention from target audiences.

Digital channels offer a powerful platform for driving engagement through highlighting educational impact and providing valuable career resources. Paid advertising on social media platforms offers unparalleled reach and targeting capabilities. Active engagement on social media profiles is essential to maintain audience interest and prevent attrition to competing universities. By leveraging these platforms, both organically and through paid media, universities can bridge communication gaps and demonstrate the value their education offers.

Personalization plays a crucial role in tailoring communications to individual preferences and interests, thereby enhancing engagement and resonance. Leveraging personal interests and demographics, institutions can deliver tailored messages to potential students, current students, alumni, and other key stakeholders. Paid advertisements are significantly effective on social media platforms. Using the user data available, ads are able to offer precise targeting applying diverse and detailed user information to facilitate the delivery of ads to highly relevant audiences. These details, often inaccessible through organic marketing efforts, pull personal interests and demographics into the marketing mix that organic marketing struggles to access.

A study by HubSpot revealed that targeted advertising can result in a 74% increase in conversion rates, underscoring the impact of personalized messaging facilitated by social media's data-rich environment. By harnessing this wealth of information, institutions can craft campaigns that resonate with specific audience segments (prospective students, students, alumni, donors) thus driving engagement. This targeting not only enhances the efficiency of marketing efforts, but also maximizes ROI making paid ads an indispensable tool for businesses looking to reach their target audience effectively on social media.

Alumni, as an institution's largest constituency, require targeted engagement strategies to foster meaningful connections. Creating a culture of giving that springs from involvement and not obligation, is key to driving engagement. It can be tempting, in the face of stagnant enrollment and rising costs, to make every alumnus communication about donations and giving. Your responsibility is to create a campus environment that prioritizes excellence and improvement; there is rich potential in your graduate population that quite literally walked the halls experiencing the campus environment that was created. One reason for low rates of alumni engagement may lie in the perception that every outreach is just another ask. The result is that your alumni communications are ignored. Non-monetary engagement opportunities, such as game watch parties and alumni networking events, strengthen ties to the alma mater. Personalization is paramount, with tailored communications ensuring relevance and resonance with individual experiences and aspirations. Applying these techniques add value to your alumni, which in turn, foster engagement, and meaningful connections with your institution.

It’s imperative to seize the advantages of a multi-channel marketing strategy that applies personalized data to paid ads, social media, and direct mail to deepen existing relationships and further the engagement with your students and alumni. Here are three tips to foster an engaging environment by applying personalized data for a unique experience:

  1. Use Your Data to Greater Effect
    The ability to properly target your message based on specific information gives you incredible power to craft tailored communications that get read. Utilizing demographic information, income, major and field of study, extracurricular activities and clubs, you can keep your messaging fresh and personal as well as share content that you know your audience will find interesting. The insights you can glean from the data can help you create stronger, more impactful relationships.
  1. Integrate a Multi-Channel Marketing Approach
    Higher education institutions are beginning to recognize the cost savings and wider visibility that occurs when you present consistent messaging across marketing channels. Social media that flows into personalized direct mail communications with digital integrations and augmented reality experiences allow you to create an environment of engagement. Utilizing custom splash pages and display videos, you receive detailed analytics on each click and scan, thus refining the campaign and marketing efforts in greater detail. Applying the data obtained to retargeting opportunities allows universities to cater messaging based on location, interests, and past interactions with your institution. The goal is to drive fuller experiences that cause further engagements with your university.
  1. Combine Digital and Print Strategies to Connect
    Sharing the benefits and moments of being a community ripple the social sharing and interactions between institution, students, and alumni. By celebrating the moments of a university community, you humanize the institution and your values, building trust with prospective students and alumni through personalized interactions. Combining WebAR into your printed material with insights gleaned through data into student behaviors and motivations allows for innovative and fun ways to target your audience during holidays, graduations, reunions, and other memorable events. Personalized QR codes can transport messages from print to digital and share greetings, congratulations, and enhance storytelling through video, animation, 3D, and AR-immersive content. Here are examples of how Texas Tech University integrated WebAR into their direct mail to alumni.

A comprehensive paid and multi-channel marketing strategy is essential for engaging both prospective students and alumni effectively. By leveraging digital channels, engaging content, targeted engagement strategies, and data-driven insights, institutions can cultivate meaningful connections, drive engagement, and elevate their brand presence in a competitive landscape. Contact a Marketing.com expert today to learn more about how we can help your school connect the dots and build deeper and wider engagement.