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7 Ways to Break Through the Marketing Clutter and Differentiate Your School In a Crowded Online World

StudentBridge Staff October, 30, 2020

The global pandemic has exacerbated online overcrowding, forcing colleges and universities to come up with new and innovative ways to capture the attention of their target audiences. What's more, 3 out of 4 students are relying solely on the college website to make an enrollment decision.1

55% of visitors are spending less than 15 seconds on your website according to data collected by HubSpot, a popular CRM system. Even more concerning is attention spans wane far earlier.

With so much competition for user attention both on and offline, consider these 7 tips and tricks to hook your prospects and drive action.

1. Keep It Short and Sweet

The messages you communicate are important, so naturally, you want them to be internalized. But with the average young adult encountering somewhere between 6,000-10,000 messages a day, you have only a fraction of time to get your information across in a meaningful way.

  • Condense your copy into bite-sized chunks
  • Optimize your headlines
  • Make content scannable
  • Use complementary visual clues

And, if you haven't done so already, throw a text messaging campaign into your mix. Mobile users open and read over 90% of messages they receive.

2. Know Where Your Audience Is Spending Their Time

51% of Gen Zers are using social media constantly—and almost 40% of rising seniors use social media as an informational resource.2 You'll only have a few seconds to convince this generation to consume your content, but once you do, these digital natives have significant buying power.

  • Focus on finding the right time, the right channel, and the right budget for your brand
  • A/B test several strategies for positive ROI which will lead to sustainable growth and meaningful competitive advantage
  • Create quick, effective content that tells an authentic story
  • Use video and photos to tell your story, not just text
  • Design unique experiences into your offerings - Gen Zers can detect a one-size-fits-all approach from a mile away

3. Tell Your Unique Story

Every institution has a unique story and as an admissions marketer, it's your job to tell it. Showcase what really sells your campus -- the people, stories, and value.

So, while many schools tend to make the same generalized claims, illustrate how your institution is different by giving a voice to your students, faculty, and staff.

4. Focus on Personalization

54% of students prefer websites that allow them to personalize content to meet their interests according to RNL's 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report.

Turn to a robust technology platform that will allow you to identify stealth visitors and personalize their experiences.

  • Attract prospective students with emotional content and personalized experiences based on specific interests
  • Wow prospective students with branded and interactive solutions that create emotional connections
  • Remind prospective students why they should choose your school and reassure them that they made the right choice

5. Differentiate With Unique Online Experiences

It becomes exceedingly difficult to differentiate one school from the next when you take the traditional day-to-day college experience out of the mix. Without the experience, you are left only with the value of education as a point of comparison.

Both students and parents alike value college as an experience, oftentimes more so than the value of the degree itself. As such, it's not enough to simply replicate in-person experiences in an online environment.

Keep engagement high through immersive virtual event experiences. Create content that allows students to interact and engage online, anytime and from anywhere to keep that sense of community alive.

Try this - Keep things interesting by implementing polls, videos, and breakout sessions into your virtual event experiences.

6. The Slow and Steady Relationship

Relationships have to be nurtured and courted over a period of time. Show your prospective students that they are more than just a purchased name by feeding them bits and pieces of information over time before making any big asks.

Be present for prospects by offering them an easy way to connect through live-chat or a 1:1 zoom call.

Then, once the relationship has been established, pop the question: are you interested in us?

7. Learn What Works (and What Doesn't)


To measure a successful marketing campaign, you must start with a goal, time frame, and set success factors. Do you want more organic traffic to your website, a broader social media reach or higher click through rates? Your end goal will determine the metrics you should be measuring against your campaign.

We suggest trying the following:

  • Pull analytics daily and track them in a spreadsheet
  • Analyze your results weekly against your call to action
  • Determine what efforts are driving action
  • Allow the data to drive your approach and adjust accordingly

Let us help you increase conversion by elevating your unique story.

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