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Unless you're a household name or a local university, chances are most colleges will face an ever-present recruitment battle as they jockey for the best and brightest among the future academics of the world. For those that represent an online university, the challenge can be even more significant, as there are no campus visits, vibrant social life, or other extra-curricular activities to show off to prospective students.

But that doesn't mean it's impossible to attract people to your virtual doors. Through digital marketing, online universities can target and interact with students. In many ways, this is more beneficial than traditional means.

1. You Can Get Warm Leads

Whether you're looking for passive traffic through organic search results or clicks on a paid advertisement, the initial interest by the student is the same: they are looking for a school, and they found you. The better your digital efforts, the more students you can reach and the higher your potential enrollment will be. Rather than canvassing school after school with in-person trips, you just lay out the content and let those who are already interested in higher education come to you.

2. You Can Get Qualified Leads

High school graduation rates are steadily climbing. This means enrollment in colleges across the board is dropping at a similar rate. In turn, not everyone that hears a traditional college pitch is interested in going to school at all. Part of that reason is the rising price tag associated with a brick and mortar college. This is an area that online universities excel in. Using paid advertising tools like Facebook's power editor, for instance, you can target not only people who are interested in attending college but also those who can as well.

3. You Can Tell Your Story

Even though an online university may not have a football powerhouse that is playing in the next national championship on live television, that doesn't mean it has nothing to offer. Whether it's the flexibility of an online school or a lower teacher-to-student ratio, with results in more personalized attention, schools need to be able to get their message in front of the students they want to attract, and digital marketing is one of the best ways to do that. Create a viral video, use targeted advertising, generate killer content and testimonials. Do anything to be able to tell your story to prospective students.

4. You Can Get Diverse Leads

High School students are the bread and butter of any university. But no school, no matter how big, can afford to overlook the other sectors of society that are looking to enroll as well. Some of those who have opted to skip the traditional college path immediately after high school and enlist in the military may be looking to return to a formal education. Moms who now have kids in school and have more free time may want to finish. There is always the full-time, 40-hours-a-week employee who wants to complete their higher education. All of these groups are prime candidates for an online university. An online degree program offers the flexibility necessary for success. Through digital marketing, you can not only uncover who these people are but put your message in front of them with lightning speed and precision.

5. You Can Get Passive Leads

Gone are the days of a recruitment team getting on a school bus and driving across country to go on a four-month college tour. Now, if you want to get leads, all you have to do is get your search engine optimization and paid marketing efforts in place (or outsource it to a company who does that kind of work), and let the students find you. Saving on expenses is essential. It also allows you to funnel more money back into the system and create a better experience for your students. Creating better experiences gives the students tools they won't find other places. It also allows you to retain your star professors. Less money and time wasted through passive marketing techniques is a win for everyone. It allows the right people to attend the right school at the right time.



Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Online Education

Education Dive


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