How Educational Institutes Are Inculcating Digital Marketing To Improve Admission Process?
Let’s take a look at various digital platforms that educational institutions have been leveraging for the admissions cycle.
Traditionally, the admission process of educational institutes is conducted offline. Whenever the admissions cycle begins, institutes take a number of steps to spread a word about it. They put advertisements in the newspapers, make television commercials, distribute brochures and send out letters in the postal mail. They also display the information on their institute premises and entertain queries from the walk-ins.
However, over the past decade, the offline admission process has undergone a sea change. Today, institutes are setting up online channels to make the admissions electronic. The advent of technology, the internet, and social media has made it possible for students to access institutes at the click of a button. Right from enquiries to enrolments, digital platforms are enabling both institutes and students to make the admissions paperless, convenient and hassle-free.
There are also other reasons why digital platforms are becoming popular. They help institutes to organize application and admission data in a structured manner; process the admissions faster; eliminate any biases in the selection, and automate end-to-end admission processes.
Let’s take a look at various digital platforms that educational institutions have been leveraging for the admissions cycle:
A website can provide valuable and official information to prospective students in terms of program/course, curriculum, faculty, alumni, fee, placement, campus amenities, hostel facility, etc. The website also creates credibility about the educational institute among students. It also gives students an insight into what the educational institute has to say about itself. A good website is one which is attractive, functional, interactive, always updated and easy to navigate. A website also serves as a platform to accept online applications and fee payment from students.
Today’s youngsters are actively engaged on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. It is necessary that educational institutes have social media presence to boost their visibility and engage students. Many institutes use social media to create awareness about their programs, give daily updates about what’s new on the campus and share every little piece of information that is useful for students before/during/after admissions cycle.
Social media also serves as a tool to facilitate two-way interaction with students - understand their need and concerns, answer their queries, and listen to their opinions. Even institutes can assess students through their social media profiles and make informed decision about giving them admissions. Institutes can also initiate online discussions and hashtags, post videos and do a lot more other interesting activities to keep students engaged on social media at the time of admissions cycle.
Social media is a goldmine for academic institutes to generate leads and find prospective students through hosting a webinar, sharing links to gated content and running contests. Institutes which offer niche courses such as agribusiness, brand ecology, telecom management and design thinking among many others can also create brand awareness among students.
Students and smartphones are inseparable. There is no doubt that a majority percentage of students access admission information on their smartphones. So, it is imperative that the educational institute has a mobile-friendly website to make things simpler for students. A mobile-optimized website automates routine admission activities. By using their mobile devices, students can easily apply online, check their application status or schedule a campus visit anytime, anywhere and on the go.
Not just for admissions, a mobile website keeps the educational institute and students connected all the time. The institute can send notifications regarding important notices, fee payment reminders, document submission, emergencies and everything in between. Basically, a mobile website acts as a centralised communication system and increases student engagement by multifold.
However, it is necessary that the mobile website should be fast, visually appealing, and interactive. It should be able to provide admission information in real-time.
Online forums and groups on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn or messenger apps such as WhatsApp can bring the institute, staff/faculty, students, alumni and parents on a common platform. An institute can form separate or mixed groups for each target audience, depending on the requirement. These forums and groups can facilitate discussions among the target audiences about admissions and any other matter that is relevant to the student community.
Search engines are perhaps the first touch points for students to connect to an educational institute. Be it Google, Yahoo or Bing, students expect the admission information to pop up in search engines. The search engines show pages and URLs which direct the students to the institute’s website or landing page for more information on admission and other aspects. It is a known fact that institute which appears in higher ranks, preferably on the first or second page of the search engines have better chances of visibility among students.
Blogs are another powerful medium to engage students and increase their footfall on the website. Blogs contain keywords, which are instrumental for SEO strategy and boost page rankings in the search engines. Blogs can be utilized to provide information on admission opening and closing dates, cut-off percentage, the launch of new courses, change in the application process and basically any communication that needs to reach the target audience.
Public Relations (PR)
PR is another useful medium that educational institutes can leverage to increase brand visibility and create a strong brand perception among students, parents as well as other stakeholders at the time of admissions. A PR agency can help the institute to disseminate information through various channels, conduct networking events and career fests and do all activities that can build good relations with the community.
Digital platforms have dramatically transformed the way institutes and students connect with each other, whether for admissions or any other purpose. An institute with a robust digital presence can make itself stand out of the crowd and become the most preferred one among the students. In order to create high online visibility and make the most of its digital strategy, institutes must consider hiring expert digital marketing agencies
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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