Lead generation is tough as a whole, but this is especially true for higher education lead generation. Student leads are not only hard to generate, but you can’t always rely on your usual lead ads to draw them in.
If you want to have a chance at drawing in future students that will make a huge impact on your organization, then you need to build a lead generation strategy worth using. But how do you draw in student leads effectively?
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How to Generate Student Leads
Getting qualified leads means understanding how you can draw in prospective students as part of your lead generation strategy. In most cases, a mixture of organic or targeted campaigns is best, approaching new students from multiple angles.
However, educational institutions only have so many resources to work with. Here are some of the most notable lead generation and marketing campaigns used by educational programs all across the country.
Paid Admissions Lead Ads
Paid ads can be a very direct but effective source of lead generation. Ads can not only encourage students to take a look at your organization, but it makes sure that they are aware of your higher education institution when they might otherwise never have heard of you.
The right lead ads can capture leads seeking their dream education, specific academic programs or even attract students who have no idea which university to choose. Good lead ads might even spread beyond their original audience and attract student leads you were not originally targeting.
Advertising on search engines gives you a lot more lead generation strategies that you can rely on. Targeting the right keywords ensures that you are getting the education leads you expect, allowing you to pick your target audience and choose whatever terms they search for the most.
Search ads also have the benefit of letting you use platforms like Google Ads, which can be ideal for gathering information. Data about search engine results can show you the keywords needed to build awareness, drive traffic to your landing pages, draw in new leads, and direct visitors to your lead capture forms.
Placing ads on sites – either as a standalone arrangement or through things like the Google advertising network – also helps lead generation.
You can target sites that are relevant to your intended audience, then simply wait as you start to gain even more leads.
If you choose the right websites, then you can push your higher education lead generation strategies even further by targeting people who are actively looking into higher education information.
The more of a presence you can give your organization, the easier it becomes to draw students into choosing it.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO gives you an easy way to generate student leads by promoting your brand directly, using keywords to appear in search engines far more often.
Since SEO makes it easy to specify relevant keywords, you can optimize your site and/or marketing material to appear in the right places at the right times. This makes it an incredibly powerful method of generating leads within certain niches, but only if you can approach it correctly.
Improving your website allows it to load faster and run more effectively, something that can be important for retaining the leads you generate. If a landing page does not load within a couple of seconds, a lot of your most qualified leads may simply leave instead of waiting.
If you want to secure new leads, then you need to be sure that you are giving them an experience they can tolerate. Direct high-quality leads to landing pages full of relevant content that don’t load slowly – if your site is struggling, then it reflects badly on your entire organization.
Marketing your higher education options through email systems can be a simple, cheap, but somewhat risky method of gathering up prospective students. However, unlike most kinds of email marketing, student leads are much less likely to delete emails from higher education institutions. As long as you have enough information to contact one of your student leads by email, you can pitch to them with a carefully prepared email.
There are a lot of specific strategies for doing this right, but it is often as simple as sending personalized messages (instead of automated responses) to a potential lead and hoping that they display interest in becoming new students of your institution.
While not exactly as cheap as email-based marketing, using physical mail can also be an effective strategy.
However, using it right requires that you know where a new lead lives, how to target them, and how you can produce a physical letter that will appeal to them. This makes it far more complex but also allows you to do a lot more with the concept.
Content marketing is one of the more subtle ways of appealing to your target audience.
Creating blog posts or website content designed to draw in interested students gives you an easy way to get them onto your site, allowing you to fill the landing page with promotional material that can hopefully hook them.
This is an excellent option for turning prospective students into interested leads.
As long as you can produce valuable content, you might see a spike in your conversion rates, as well as more traffic on your landing pages and higher website traffic overall. This increases your digital presence among your target audience, even if it can be time-consuming.
While a form of content marketing, blog posts (either from staff or current students today) can be used to draw in your target audiences and secure more students.
You do not have to become a new thought leader that posts creative content daily – you just need to post enough to form a decent blog marketing strategy.
Blogs are a great place to earn qualified leads. Posting a consistent blog about higher education life, current student progress, or any other kind of relevant information can make a huge difference to your active presence on the internet.
Not only that, but it gives website visitors something to engage with, which could lead to them lingering on your site for longer.
Putting guest posts on other sites can be a good way to direct traffic to your landing page and improve your SEO at the same time. This might sound simple, but it can make a huge difference for higher education lead generation, where every single backlink makes a difference.
Guest posts allow you to insert some of your own content on a site or get content written specifically for you.
Doing this for the express purpose of lead generation is quite a common tactic, but that is because it works – this kind of content can generate leads very well if the content itself is good.
Social Media Platform Advertising
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook can be great sources of prospective students, making them ideal for a unique lead generation strategy.
Not only can you establish Twitter and Facebook lead ads through the promotional features, but you can make normal posts to bring in organic traffic that might be worth targeting as well.
There are a lot of ways to generate leads through these platforms. Facebook lead ads are only one of the many lead generation strategies that you can come up with using social media, but it depends on your overall marketing strategy and existing social media presence.
Either way, being signed up to social media platforms is always a good thing.
Social media ads make great lead ad options, but you can also rely on social media as a digital messaging tool to contact prospective students – rather than having to provide automated responses or copy-pasted emails.
Other Ways to Improve Your Lead Generation Strategy
While the lead generation methods above are effective on their own, higher education lead generation often requires some more finesse to get right. Generating new leads is not about having the highest number of visitors but about ensuring that you get as many interested students as possible.
Sometimes, using simple paid ads can be enough to push you into a new market. If you have some budget left over and nowhere in your marketing strategy to spend it, then a few banner ads or some paid content can make quite a big difference.
It is not a bad idea to supplement your larger marketing efforts with smaller and more specific kinds of lead generation. Even if the main bulk of your lead work is already done, it can’t hurt to push a little more marketing content out toward your target audiences.
Use Lookalike Audience Data
Try looking at your past successes when it comes to marketing campaigns. You can use old data as a vague baseline for the kind of people you will be marketing to in the present.
In most cases, students will remain mostly the same between admission years, allowing you to rehash the same data over and over again if you are targeting a general audience. This makes the initial parts of your lead generation planning much faster.
Offer Lead Magnets
Sometimes an offer of something free can be enough to turn the tide in your favor.
For example, a state university might choose to offer campus tours in its marketing material. This is not anything special, but the fact that it is mentioned means that more students may take notice, even if it is something that other institutions are also offering.
Higher education can be an expensive prospect for students, so offering something for free can really mean a lot to them. Even if you are just giving away PDFs of useful information to prepare them for university life, it might be enough to turn them over to your side.
The best lead-nurturing environment is one where students feel seen and heard. Communication is key.
It is not a bad idea to promote live chat features or other tools that can put the students in contact with an admissions representative directly. The sooner you can get visitors connected with you, the easier it becomes to nudge them into becoming full-on students.
An educational institution that communicates well with its students is a good educational institution. Of course, different platforms are used for different kinds of communication, so it might help to have official accounts on multiple social media or communication platforms.
Proper planning is extremely important for dealing with any kind of lead generation work. Not only does proper planning give you more tools to work with, but it can help you avoid significant mistakes with your lead generation options.
The education sector is complex, so you want to be completely sure that you are not making any errors when you try to generate leads consistently. Proper planning provides you with a lot more opportunities than just “winging it” and seeing what works.
Planning is also important for avoiding any accidental pitfalls that could damage your image in the eyes of your potential students, such as marketing yourself incorrectly or running ads with unfortunate implications behind them.
Lead Generation for Prospective Students
There is no perfect way to generate leads. No strategy will work every single time, and you have to constantly adapt your strategies to match the markets that you are aiming for.
This means that you need to keep updating your lead generation options to suit your situation and goals, no matter how specific they might get.
Whatever strategies you build and the option you choose, you will always encounter areas where you can improve or new markets that you can move into. The nature of lead generation means that you are constantly looking to improve what already exists.
Take your time and think over your options. Rushing into a new lead strategy can backfire very badly, especially if you are not prepared to make changes once you start to notice flaws in the plan or discover a new target market that you do not have the budget to pursue.
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Kasra Dash is a Scottish entrepreneur, Kasra Primarily focuses on SEO & digital marketing for companies in the UK he enjoys brining positive ROI’s for business owners with his marketing expertise.
Kasra is also an investor in Searcharoo.