18 to 34-year-olds are the most sought after age demographic of consumers, however they are increasingly becoming "adlergic." So how can online programs attract prospective students when they are using 4+ ad blocking tools?
With institutional pressures limiting the effectiveness of ad delivery algorithms and millenial students demanding greater privacy, it begs the question, how will universities reach prospective students in the future?
Digital Advertising in Higher Education
When we think of the golden age of digital advertising, we think of the early days of Google and Facebook when it was inexpensive and easy to get in front of the right prospective students.
With increased privacy concerns, data protection regulations like GDPR coming into effect, and students becoming more tech-literate, the days of cheap and scalable advertising campaigns are on thin ice.
So how do online programs recruit prospective students who don't want to be sold to in a marketplace with stiff competition and even stiffer regulations?
The Problem with OPMs
Before we talk higher education enrollment marketing strategies, let's talk about the problem with OPMs.
The solution for many schools is working with an OPM, or an Online Program Manager, to build effective courses, design engaging course materials, develop an easy-to-use Learning Management System (LMS), recruit prospective students, and provide ongoing support.
Sounds great until you read the contract.
Many OPMs require multi-year contracts, and take a large percentage of tuition costs for each student they recruit. Because long contracts and expensive terms handicap an online program's ability to adapt to the fast-paced, technology-first economy we live in, some are considering building an internal OPM model.
What do OPMs have to do with "adlergic" 18 to 34-year-olds?
When it comes to recruiting the best and the brightest students, OPMs rely heavily on paid advertising to recruit students. Because 18 to 34-year-olds are the primary demographic for graduate degree programs, a 10-year OPM contract a school signs in 2019 will not age well as more students become adlergic.
Please don't misunderstand us, paid ads are super useful. However, they have a fatal flaw: as soon as advertisers stop spending money, they stop receiving new leads.
So how can schools attract prospective students without living and dying by paid ads?
Higher Education Inbound Marketing
Universities should reallocate resources from paid advertising to inbound marketing, and create valuable and engaging content to organically attract prospects to their website.
As internet users, great content is ultimately what we want. We spend hours on Google and YouTube searching for answers, learning new skills, and seeking out entertainment. To stay relevant among prospective students, schools need to show up when they question international diplomacy strategies, ways to combat global healthcare challenges, and search for business administration best practices.
OPMs that say "21, in college or graduated college, and interested in business administration" may sound like a complete profile, but that's not true; prospective students are much more complex. When advertisers reduce prospective students to a collection of demographic information it cheapens who the student is as a person.
Our job in life, as people and institutions for higher education, is to serve others. Adlergic 18 to 34-year-olds are forcing schools and higher education marketing agencies to work harder to connect with prospective students.
Are you looking to recruit prospective students for an online program without having to sign a multi-year OPM contract? Choose a higher education agency partner that understands higher education branding, marketing, and design.