92% of marketers using video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. (Wyzowl)
There are hundreds of companies generating countless reports on this topic - and while none of them are saying exactly the same thing, the common theme is that video is a powerful tactic. But 1) why is it so important? 2) How does any of this relate to student recruitment and 3) where do I even start with video marketing? Let's dive in.
Feeding two birds with one scone.
Why video is great for student recruitment.
Whether we’re looking at traditional undergraduate, transfer, or graduate audiences, 2020 has brought an obvious shift in how students navigate the college search process. An inability to visit campuses physically or meet with constituents in-person has driven us all to the world wide web. We’re now working in a primarily digital space, which, thankfully, coincides nicely with pre-existing Gen Z behaviors (as the video-first generation).
In short, your prospective students are online all. day. long. So your content needs to stand out, speak to them, and...move them to action.
Supplement your student recruitment strategies with videos to ensure you’re:
- Showing and not just telling. Video allows you to evoke emotion from your audiences - paint a picture so they can truly envision what it’s like to attend your institution.
- Delivering information quickly and comprehensively. Imagine if this written blog were recorded and you could watch/listen on 1.5 speed!
- Meeting students where they are. People watch an average of 16 hours of online video per week – a 52% increase in the last 2 years.
So now you might be asking, where do I even get started with video marketing? So glad you asked! Follow these six steps and you’ll be on your way to the student recruitment video Oscars.
Step 1: Identify the student recruitment stages where video marketing makes the most sense
Step 2: Determine the production quality you’re aiming for
For some recruitment teams, this question is really “what’s your budget?” If you prefer to start with a dollar amount and work your way back, check out the breakdown below.
Another way to identify your desired production quality — if you can afford to — is to ask, “what approach aligns well with our brand strategy?”
- $$$: Lights, camera, and action fit into your budget
- Strategic alignment: This is a polished end-product, so you can feel comfortable using this content to build brand awareness, engaging the masses at the top of the funnel, and boosting your lead generation efforts
- $$: A slight upgrade to your fanciest slide deck
- Strategic alignment: If you're looking to teach others about something specific, show how something works, or make something intangible look tangible
- $: Unleash the power of an iPhone
- Strategic alignment: Jump into selfie mode if you just need to put a face to the name and send a personalized communication to students at the bottom of the funnel who will benefit from knowing you're a real human being
Pro Tip: Don’t feel like you have to start from scratch on any of this. If you have a small team or small budget, you can still draw inspiration from other schools or other brands completely outside of the education industry! Here’s a collection of videos from DD Studio that span all budgets and objectives.
Step 3: Cast your star(s)!
You know your audience — so who do they really want to hear from? It’s best to match up the objective of the video with spokespeople who can really deliver on that value.
Open to suggestions? In no particular order, here are some ideas for leading roles:
Sara and Jose (Current Students)
It’s not peer pressure; it’s peer encouragement! Hearing what real-life students have to say about your programs can help get buy-in from prospective students who crave a sense of belonging. With parents and families often weighing in on the decision due to the level of investment, the perspective of someone currently going through the process can cut through the noise and give prospects an opportunity to relate to others.
Professor Murray and Dr. Bradley (Faculty)
Not only does including professors in a video prove to the students that their future teachers are eager to welcome and help them, but it also combats the current controversy on whether higher education is worth it or not. Reassure students that they have experts who are dedicated to sharing their knowledge with them so that they don’t have to figure it out alone. Could be a very powerful message right now.
Gordon B. Powers (President)
Important messages resonate most when they come from powerful positions. Presidents, deans, and provosts are charged with overseeing progress, positive improvements, outcomes, and the general impact their programs have on student and community successes.
Tim Brown - Go Bulls! (Advisor or Counselor)
The transitions from high school to college, undergrad to grad, working full-time then going back to school, etc. can be incredibly overwhelming. A human support system is just what the doctor ordered for students who value relationships and recognition. Let them know they’ll be set up for success and show them the real people who will help guide them along the way.
Jennifer Hobbleson, Class of ‘14 (Alumni)
Prove that your program works with success stories from young and/or esteemed alumni. Chances are the selected alumni will feel “seen” and gladly take you up on an offer to promote your mission. Make sure to work with your Advancement team on this initiative so you can also get credit for being a true team player!
Montage of any/all of the above
If one person or team just doesn’t do the trick to meet your objective, perhaps a more collaborative approach will work. If you can swing getting multiple parties involved in this production, go for it. Make sure you have a vision set before you rope them in, though, because you can run the risk of too many cats on the campus. Cooks in the kitchen? You get it.
Bonus points if you’re spearheading this initiative from start to finish. It takes guts and glamour, and we salute you. Follow your script or speak from the heart; whatever makes you feel most comfortable. To be safe, share it with a colleague before sending it along to make sure it passes as helpful/appropriate. There’s nothing like an awkward video of you getting forwarded for all the wrong reasons.
If you can somehow pull off an endorsement from Oprah, you’re looking at potential video virality here. Maybe you have famous people in your alumni or major donor lists. If this is the case, it doesn’t hurt to ask for their help in spreading the good word about your school. Don’t put all your eggs in this basket, though. It’s probably not a sustainable approach!
Step 4: Go channel surfing for the platform with the highest reach
Depending on who you’re trying to reach, you’ll want to figure out where your amazing new video will gain the most traction. Use whatever data you have available to tap into your prospective students’ preferred medium. If you don’t know, you’re going to guess, and that’s okay. The worst thing you can do is create something and have it sit in a file folder on your college’s intranet for no one to ever experience.
- Email — Liven up your comm flows with a video and a CTA combo that makes sense, such as book a meeting with me, let me know if you have any questions, send a text, etc.
- SMS — Not many means of communication are more personal than text messaging. If you have an existing relationship with a prospective student and you’re on texting terms, a video can be a fun way to keep the conversation going.
- LinkedIn Message — LinkedIn serves as another excellent medium for reaching your target audience in a personal way. And it’s frequented especially by young professionals (here’s looking at you, graduate enrollment marketers).
- Your website — Aligning with what we preach about inbound marketing, including video on your website pages will help increase session times, decrease bounce rates, and ultimately help improve your search engine rankings
- Hint: Ensure whatever page(s) you place your video are infused with the right keywords. Not sure where to start with that? Get a few SEO hacks here.
- Paid social — Put those ad dollars to work by setting up super-targeted campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube
- Hint: YouTube is the second-highest content channel for Gen Z and Millennials after Netflix (Ypulse)
Step 5: Publish your video and promote it
It’s worth repeating this point from Step 4: Do not let your video sit and collect dust! Videos need to be seen (just like your spoiled cousin, Pierre).
Get your recipient list ready, give your clever captioning a final proofreading, and…hit “send”!
Step 6: Analyze your video marketing results
Did prospective students watch it? Did they like it? Is it helping augment your other content strategy initiatives? There are a lot of ways to figure out whether your video campaign is worth rinsing and repeating.
The folks at HubSpot did a nice, thorough rundown of metrics that matter when it comes to evaluating video performance, including some of the following that we feel speak directly to our enrollment marketing friends:
Click-through rate 💪 (How effective was that call to action?)
If you included any sort of action item either in your video or in the context surrounding it (maybe in your email), did people actually take the bait? This is especially important for videos that have a super relevant “next step” involved — like tutorials. “Ready to fill out that FAFSA form? Click here to get started.” If your click-through rate (CTR) is low, it could be because your directions were unclear or the placement of the call to action (CTA) could use some tweaking.
Engagement 👏 (Is this compelling enough to get reactions?)
Some people post just to post. To get as many impressions as they can. To see what happens. But I think the best videos and content create engagement. Are students asking questions? Are they sharing? Are they commenting with silly emojis? All of that factors into how much more your video is seen AND helps give you a sense of how it’s making them feel. If you’re getting a lot of ‘heart’ reactions and comments like ‘yaaaas’, you’ve created something fridge-worthy. If you’re getting a lot of ‘angry faces’ or comments like ‘this sucks’ — move onto the next section below!
Negative feedback 👎 (What did I miss the mark on?)
Yes, it’s wise to think about what would offend anyone prior to creating and sharing your video, but mistakes happen. And many times it isn’t a matter of offensive content as much as it is misinterpretation on the audience’s end. With any negative feedback you receive, the best and first thing to do is address it immediately and diplomatically. Then, the only thing left is to learn from it.
Conversion rate 📈 (How many did I move through the funnel?)
If you’ve got this video synced up as part of a larger campaign, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing students take that next step in the process after they viewed it. This is popular with social ads—students watching your video on Instagram, clicking through to the landing page, and submitting their information to learn more about your school or program.
Who watches your video 😍 (Who are your BFFs?)
Think of people who watch your videos in their entirety as your fans! They must have found some sort of value in what you were sharing, so don’t be afraid to continue nurturing them. These students could be entered into a specific segment to receive additional content so you can continue tracking your video’s influence. Knowing who these students are could also lead to helpful customer profiling so you know which traits to look for next!
With all the thought and effort you put into following these steps (even if it was just a tiny bit of work) the worst thing that can happen is that you fail well. You were informed, strategic, and intentional with your approach. Between you and us, failing isn’t always super fun, so we’ll be over here cheering you on to be wildly successful! And if you need more help, send us a note and we’ll give you a hand with brainstorming ideas or analyzing what went wrong.