The pandemic forced the acceleration of changes that many educational institutions planned to implement gradually. The situation required quick adaptation of the existing tools to new processes and developing different modes of conducting tasks. Thanks to quick decisions and efforts made by all university employees, it was possible to maintain the smooth functioning of the units and ensure the safety of students and employees.
Ongoing analysis shows that the solutions introduced to meet unexpected changes, although they fulfill their role, do not fully reflect the needs and require further development.
Currently, most people involved in the recruitment process understand that it begins much earlier than filling in the form and paying the fee by the potential student.
Building the university's brand, its media, and local visibility are elements that facilitate the acquisition of candidates. Although, they are not directly related to recruitment processes, often managed by different people or departments and financed from separate budgets.
The situation is different when it comes to reaching the right people with information about the offer of specific faculties or conducting education fields. Financial constraints preclude the possibility of carrying out large-scale campaigns in the mass media. However, this doesn't mean that universities have no chance of reaching the right audience. As long as the marketing campaign meets its goals, it does not need a large budget. First of all, it is about the precise selection of communication channels and the use of an appropriate (attractive and personalized) form of communication. The issue is to reach effectively the right target groups in the media that are their "natural environment". People carry out many daily activities using them (like relaxing, searching for entertainment, organizing social or professional matters). These can be online social channels, popular portals, or thematic websites, reflecting the interests of the candidates. It is worth noting that they should be thematically consistent with the promoted offer. Digital marketing tools enable planning and displaying appropriately tailored messages online and mobile.
It is necessary to realize that the offer of universities takes part in the race for the attention and interest of potential candidates on an equal footing with other content - sales, professional, and entertainment. The choice of a university and a field of study aren't based only on rational reasons. Properly conducted communication may bring advantages. Changes in purchasing styles and the approach to education by young people have brought recruitment processes closer to shopping paths. Because of these changes, efforts to maintain high-quality education (even if they translate into high positions in the rankings of fields of study) and communication in own media (websites, social media profiles) are too little activity. Such an approach does not guarantee that the number of applicants will be obtained, which would allow the admission of the best candidates to studies.
Our experience from cooperation with universities clearly shows that the recruitment process reflects very complex sales paths. Especially it applies to activities in the field of communication and marketing. Due to the current situation and the transfer of most doings to electronic devices, it is necessary to conduct more Internet campaigns, with the main focus on mobile solutions. Such activities are also consciously undertaken by universities. From a practical point of view, they may achieve satisfying results using knowledge and commercial standards related to communication management and the entirety of the processes building the so-called "Customer experience". This approach brings results in optimizing recruitment activities in higher education.
One of the first steps in every marketing action is understanding the receiver, target group's needs, expectations, and behaviors. Then, to understand the mechanisms related to choosing the field of study and university. Communication management can be supported by advanced IT tools, offering analysis using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Then, optimize campaigns based on the obtained data. Thanks to their use, communication will be both automated and personalized. The precise configuration of marketing activity, supported by ongoing analytics and smooth implementation of changes in line with the received indications, will allow you to achieve a high level of effectiveness. Of course, each university is different and requires an individual approach. Therefore, apart from choosing IT tools, using the knowledge of experienced consultants may be very useful.
Feel free to contact me, I will be happy to share my knowledge and experience.
Adam Czeczuk, Head of Consulting Services