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5 ways to stand out at HigherEd recruitment events

Standing out and making a lasting impression on prospective students (for the right reasons!) at increasingly overcrowded recruitment events is challenging. Two success factors include engaging with students on a more personalized, individual level, and better understanding their motivations for enrollment. When you fully understand what motivates students to choose a school, you can then use these driving factors in more effective ways to boost enrollment numbers.

According to research by Eduventures, 80% of students said that they considered at least one of these seven factors when choosing to enroll in a college:

  • Affordability
  • Program availability
  • Academic reputation
  • Career outcomes/job opportunities
  • Value of education for cost
  • Feeling of fit
  • Proximity to home

With these factors in mind, here are our top 5 ways to stand out at off-campus recruitment events:

1. Registration forms that are on brand and look awesome.

“Feeling of fit” and an institution’s reputation are two factors that play into a student’s choice of college. By serving up fully branded, mobile-responsive, digital registrations forms, you’re letting them know you’re a modern college that puts their preferences first. No more dog-eared paper forms for students to complete, and no more laborious, manual transcription tasks for your admission staff. Digital registration forms offer a more seamless experience as students engage with your institution and have been proven to convert at a higher rate than traditional, paper-based channels — especially when considering that up-to 30% of paper forms are found to be useless due to poor handwriting.

2. Get slick with data capture.

Now that smartphones are glued to almost every hand within today’s student population, why not capitalize and turn every phone into a data capture channel for your college? QR codes, for example, are a quick way to drive students to your lead capture form, allowing them to complete forms in their own time, on their own device. For more details, check out this post on using QR codes to capture student inquiries.

These modern methods for capturing data let you stand out as an organization, but they also help to minimize costs. How? By reducing the need to have multiple shared tablets on your stand for students to input their details. Multiple students can be sending you their data concurrently — you need only keep a single tablet for those who do not have their phone with them. No more waiting for the tablet to become free!

3. Let speed give you the edge.

After a recruitment event, you want to be the first institution to respond to students. If you don’t, your email will languish down in 35th spot in their inbox, destined never to be clicked on. Many schools are busy transcribing forms and importing data into their CRM when they should be responding to students in a more timely manner. Instead of missing this opportunity to get your school front-and-center in students’ minds, having an integrated process where your event data is automatically synced into your CRM can give you an edge on the competition.

4. Personalized post-event emails, texts and calls.

Time-to-first-communication is vital, as we’ve just discussed. But what you send is just as important. Sending personalized emails and text messages post-event (yes, so they’re “sent from you”), can really make a difference. Of course, this process can be automated (check out this article on how we can help blend automated and one-to-one messages) and from a student’s perspective, it’s a big differentiator. It not only helps with aspects of ‘fit’, but can also help with other factors too. For example, if a student has concerns about the affordability of their education, communicating with a friendly face (rather than a faceless institution) can alleviate those fears and help them uncover supporting information.

5. Engagement as a journey vs. isolated interactions.

Modern institutions are starting to change the way they view engagement with their students. To encourage students to continue down the enrollment funnel, the most sophisticated schools look at each engagement as a single step in a wider process, rather than isolated event. The trick is to think about what you want the student to do next, build a process around it, then communicate it from the beginning of their journey.

For example, do you think prospective students would benefit from speaking with an existing student? Great! Then build that into the process, and start communicate those next steps when you’re face-to-face. Tailoring your post-event comms around that next-step will bring a focus to your messaging — “…remember I mentioned I could put you in-touch with another student from Beijing? Click here to set it up!)  — and you’ll be able to optimise the process like a mini-funnel. (And if you’re using a ChatBot, it’s even easier! 😉)

It doesn’t just work for setting up chats with existing students. It’s the same for other goals too, such as “come visit our campus,” “ask us questions about financial aid” or “review my portfolio” (for art schools).

Plus, as well as increasing your comms-to-goal conversion rate, you’ll definitely stand-out in the minds of the students you meet at the event. Think about it, what’s more memorable? A dozen schools who all say they’ll “send you some information”, or a school that promises to set-up a conversation with a student from your own neighbourhood who is a few years further down your path?

Each of the tips listed above will help to move the dial, but the most effective way to stand-out is to take a more holistic approach to the recruitment event experience. And that’s where we can help! Reach out, if you’d like to discuss what we’ve learned from helping schools run thousands of recruitment events around the world.