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Gen Z and College Recruitment Marketing | Steel Advertising
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The 3 Things You Need to Know About Gen Z and College Recruitment Marketing

college recruitment marketing and gen z

The 3 Things You Need to Know About Gen Z and College Recruitment Marketing

by Sarah Richardson

Gen Z and College Recruitment Marketing

How did you decide where to go to college? Was it a decision you made independently of your parents? Did you just want to go to the state school where all of your friends were headed? Maybe you opted to spread your wings and opt for the best education available to you. Was it the result of some awesome college recruitment marketing materials? Regardless of what drove your decision then, the burden of that decision wasn’t so heavy. You had a few influencing factors that you kept in mind, and off you went. The connected world we live in today, where decisions can be influenced by thousands of factors, didn’t exist. Gen Z is inundated with bits of information, constantly at their fingertips, each one changing and forming perceptions that drive their college selections. As marketers, we have to bend to their needs and dig into the reality of their world.

The environment for enrollment is changing everyday. Recruitment advisers need more resources to lean into and they can’t do it in isolation. The biggest pitfall we begin to see is when recruitment teams aren’t actively intertwined with marketing. Yesterday’s world of direct mail and campus visits is gone. Keep in mind these 3 things when looking to build that next freshman class:

  1. 10 places at once. Streamlined media doesn’t exist – we need to be reaching these students in 10 places at once. They are listening to podcasts, checking instagram, and getting a notification of a new email simultaneously. Media strategies have to be deep. Brands need to be present on all social media channels and not just posting, but with a team ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
  2. Personalized blanket emails don’t work. They get buried. Gen Z wants to receive custom information specific to them. With the amount of data available online, advertisers are able to target specific messages based on interest. We know enough about these students to do the same in email. Tools like Hubspot allow for persona development and customization in email strategy.
  3. Shift to consumer voice. A recent study found that 70% of customers trust peer reviews over content from the brand and this goes for colleges too*. Potential students want to hear from others on-campus. Many campuses already use students to host campus tours, but using students to answer phones, respond on social media, and become brand ambassadors is critical. Social Toaster is built for just this – creating brand ambassadors that share content and earn points for prizes.

Do you know of social media influencers that attend your college or university? We are likely to start seeing colleges tap into these students in a paid way to influence potential students.

Gen Z rewards brands that meet them where they are. They trust a brand if that brand is authentic, personal, and engaging. Colleges just need to learn how to adapt to their needs, and do it quickly.

Need help building a strategy to reach Gen Z? Check out Steel’s experience with colleges and universities.

Based in Austin, Texas, Steel is a full-service integrated ad agency that uses a deep understanding of how families make purchase decisions to deliver brands that families love. In close partnership with our clients, Steel unites data, technology, creativity and influence to produce more stunning growth for brands in health, education, food and fun that serve the American family.
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