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04.26.19

Why Personalization Matters in Your College Admissions Strategy

Aaron Puckett

“You talkin’ to me?” (Pause while this 1970s movie reference cruises right over most of Gen-Z's heads.) Dated references aside, this demographic might be the most difficult to earn attention from in consideration of your marketing efforts. They desire content relevant to their specific needs and desires and base decision-making on planning for the future, as well as considering cost-to-value.

So when just about every digital medium offers a personalized experience, how does a higher education marketer integrate this into a college or university strategy? Well, —I’m so very glad you asked!

Audience Clusters & Interest Segments

Audience segmentation is certainly not a new tool to effectively target your audiences, and hopefully you’re already utilizing it. However, this goes further than identifying segments by general information (i.e., gender, age, geography, etc.). Take it a step further, and let your audience’s interests inform your marketing material. Create unique messaging in your marketing material that speaks directly to these micro-segments of your audience. Reaching your audience at a point of common interest earns more recognition and messaging retention, leading to more effective awareness. Your CRM can be used to centralize this specific audience contact information and help you evaluate as your contacts’ interests evolve.

Contact Data

Your CRM not only helps your team manage contact information, but it also helps your material become personalized. Utilizing contact data (i.e., first name, date of birth, alma mater, etc.) allows you to make content extremely personalized to individuals receiving the information. Most email platforms provide easy personalization tools to help automatically populate contact data into the email content. From personalized subject lines to specific email content based on a special occasion, these minor adjustments can create relationships between your brand and the audience. Similarly, video platforms like VidYard provide personalized video options that can inject contact information into video format. Strategically planning your traditional marketing can be influenced by contact information, as well. If a large amount of your contacts reside in the same city, or more specifically go to the same high school, having a brand presence in these geographic areas can be considered when budgeting for media placement.

Pertinent Content

In conjunction with personalization, every campaign should strive to provide a message that resonates with its audience. To better understand your audiences’ needs, take the time to learn more about it before jumping into a new campaign with both feet. Survey some brand ambassadors who were in your audiences’ shoes not long ago. Find out not only what they are interested in, but what they value in a college. This information should inform the foundation of your campaign messaging, as well as present opportunities to utilize personalized content to speak directly to incoming students.

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