How to Use Marketing Automation to Attract, Engage and Retain Students - Ventrix Advertising
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How to Use Marketing Automation to Attract, Engage and Retain Students

How to Use Marketing Automation to Attract, Engage and Retain Students

How to Use Marketing Automation to Attract, Engage and Retain Students

The higher education space is remarkably competitive; counselors typically recommend that students apply to between five and eight colleges, and it is not unusual to find some applying to as many as 15. That many of these prospective students are millennials compounds the challenge as they expect to interact with institutions across locations, time zones, channels, and devices.

Throw in competition from other institutions, online schools, and massive open online courses; flat or declining marketing budgets; and the tendency by prospective applicants to find information on their own before engaging with institutions, among other trends, and you have a doozy of a problem.

Higher education institutions seeking to address the issue need to get more creative with their marketing efforts. That should include adding marketing automation to the mix to improve the process of attracting, engaging and retaining students. Here are several ways in which marketing automation can help your institution achieve its marketing goals.


Like any other business, higher education institutions need to attract as many quality prospects as possible. There are several things you can do to find such people online. One is offering free courses on your website or through platforms such as edX. That will give prospects a way to sample your wares, as it were, and allow you to burnish your image by providing value to those who cannot afford to pay.

Other things you can do include:

• Having landing pages for every course that you offer with a list of critical benefits
• Running blogs, vlogs, newsletters, and online magazines with content relevant to your audience
• Partnering with websites frequented by prospects
• Running targeted ads on platforms such as Facebook
• Organizing online meetups with celebrities and well-known alumni.
Even something as simple as adding sharing features to your site or email communication can make a huge difference.


Once prospects have indicated an interest in pursuing higher education (usually by signing up to hear from you) you need to convince them that studying at your institution is worth their time and money. Use a variety of channels and formats to give them a vicarious taste of life on your campus, and incorporate stories from past and current students to improve the believability of your communications.

Do not forget to provide prospects with a way of getting back to you; the feedback can prove to be a goldmine of insights. Because the typical period between interest and signing up can be lengthy, you should be prepared to run your campaign several times before seeing results.

The process does not end with prospects enrolling; you need to keep in touch with new students to provide help and guidance. Send interest-based recommendations, congratulatory messages, and requests for an opinion where necessary; this will also help nurture an emotional connection with your institution. Finally, encourage your audience to interact with past and current students to cultivate a sense of community.


Customer retention is vital for any business, higher education institutions included. Requesting (and acting on) feedback is particularly valuable in this regard. The easiest way to do this is to configure your platform to automatically send surveys after students complete assignments or the whole course. If the feedback is inadequate, follow up with more questions.

Include stories, videos, and photos from past and current students on your website, blog, or social media channels to establish a sense of tradition and continuity, and keep updating your audience with relevant information and interesting tidbits. To rekindle good memories, organize online meet-ups and reunions, and once in a while, send personalized messages to past students to remind them of particularly good experiences.

Closing Thoughts

How you use marketing automation to attract, engage and retain students depends on the nature of your school; e-learning platforms, for instance, cater to a different audience from traditional institutions. While the methods may vary, the ultimate goal of nurturing lasting, beneficial relationships with your audience remains the same.

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