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Higher Education Marketing: 4 Reasons to Update

There are currently about 5,300 colleges and universities throughout the United States. With so much competition to attract new students, higher education marketing needs to be smarter than ever. However, as Generation Y (Millennials) continues to graduate and enter the workforce, Generation Z (those born between the late 90’s and early 2000’s) are rapidly taking their place. Gen Z now accounts for 40% of undergraduates and more than a quarter of the U.S population. As the new generation of undergrads prepare to enter college, many institutions are looking to alter the way they market to prospective students. Here are the top 4 reasons why universities need to adjust their marketing strategies.


higher education marketing, sms marketing, gen z marketing, university marketing, SMS for universities1. Gen Z is a Unique Kind of Student


Gen Z has never known a world without modern technology. Smartphones, computers, and the internet are not only prevalent in their personal lives, but it shapes their education as well. This is the generation of “self-educators” who expect constant, instantaneous access to information. They are generally more budget conscious and tend to put forth a lot more research before making decisions.


2. Higher Education Marketing Needs a Makeover


As of 2013, non-profit colleges and universities spend over $1.24 billion dollars in paid advertising each year – that’s almost on-par with their for-profit counterparts (Educational Marketing Group). However, these large advertising budgets aren’t translating into higher enrollment numbers. Enrollment has been on a steady decline over the past few years. This is due to several factors including the extremely budget conscious Gen Z students who already have access to a wealth of knowledge at their finger tips – the internet. It takes more convincing to justify the high costs of college to them. This means that university marketers should allocate some of the marketing budget towards more effective means of communication.


3. Personalized Digital Marketing Increases Reach and Effectiveness


Most of higher education marketing involves bombarding students with as many catalogs, pamphlets, and emails as possible. Due to the high volume of these communications, it’s easy for many schools to get lost in the decision pile. One simple way to reach prospective Gen Z students is through multi-channel marketing with a heavy emphasis on the digital communications. While many colleges have dedicated social media pages that work concurrently with their direct marketing components, social media is also a place of “shouting” a message. It makes sense to play on the same field as the students that you’re trying to attract, and there is no better field than their most precious tool – mobile phones.


4. SMS Improves Higher Ed Communications


A rising trend in higher education marketing is the use of mobile marketing – specifically SMS communications. Gen Z spends approximately 15+ hours each week using their mobile devices – that’s about an hour more than their Millennial counterparts (Vision Critical). Since this new generation of students is so mobile, it’s crucial for higher education marketers to recognize that trend. SMS allows colleges and universities to provide a personal and instantaneous communication experience that is desired by many prospective and current students.


Sources: Washington Post, neaToday, Faculty Enlight, CBS News


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