Let Your Audience Guide You to Yield Success
Looking back on conversation topics and trends we’ve seen in our five+ years of industry research, we see lessons and insights you can use moving forward to make the most of yield season (or the recruitment process at large) and build a robust incoming class.
Learn from What Your Audience Is Saying
Listen to your admissions audiences and speak to their logistical and emotional needs as they go though the process. The visibility of Twitter mentions and online conversations—especially those that tag your campus—give you the chance to start meaningful relationships with new students before they step foot on campus (virtually or in-person). Develop and adapt your content to fit time-specific phases of the admissions journey (application, yield, etc.). How can you make their user experience and application process smooth, clear, and easy?
- Admitted students are active on social media and forums, offering broad opportunities for engagement, celebration, and learning, while welcoming them to your admitted student communities. Prioritize online engagement to amplify admitted student content via UGC sharing, liking posts, and responding when appropriate.
- Don’t overlook the financial impact of the yield process. Seek and learn from the conversations you see around finances and paying for college.
- Amplify the voices of those who are best positioned to tell your campus story from a perspective of value. How and where can you capture and share their voices with your admissions audiences? Hint—it’s where students and their caregivers receive and digest their content.
- Position your content to educate your audience about the financial aspects of the admissions process while growing general awareness. Conduct an audit of where your financial aid and student support content lives on your website. Is it accessible and easy to understand? Consider adapting key information and messaging for social media and multiple modes of communication at critical points in their admissions journey.
Connect your accepted students with each other, your campus community, and resources at the time when they crave it the most. It’s not enough to create an online group for accepted students; think about how to maintain and sustain safe spaces for questions, concerns, learning, and celebration as students make their decisions.
- Highlight your digital community and campus identity across every digital platform and yield communication resources. Provide every opportunity for admitted and current students to connect with one another and your campus, online and in-person, if applicable.
- Support the humans involved in responding to admissions questions and communications, creating content, and building your digital community; and give them adequate resources and training. Make sure they’re representative of your admissions audience and provide them access to current students for peer-to-peer connection.
- Think about the added value and recognition your admissions audiences receive on social media. Do they feel the love, or is the conversation one-sided or static as they share concerns and milestones about their applicant experience with their followers?
Bring Awareness to Pain Points
Let the questions students ask and the emotions they share shine a light on areas you may have in your admissions communications.
- Create engaging, institutionally relevant social content that speaks to pain points, confusion, or lapses in information within your admissions process.
- Review your admissions goals, brand messaging, and content to ensure alignment and relevance to your audience. With each, post ask:
- Is this visually interesting and appealing? Does it provide enough context to instantly connect the image to my campus?
- Will the first three seconds of this content/copy compel my audience to pause their scrolling and pay attention? Is it useful or entertaining?
- Is it accessible? Are the specs correct for this platform? Is alt text included and/or is appropriate visual contrast present when text is layered with imagery?
- While social conversation should inform the gaps in information, think outside of social when addressing those breakdowns in communication. Reflect on:
- Is your website easy to navigate and is critical information easy to find?
- When students can’t find what they’re looking for, is contact information readily available? How long does the contact us process take? (Try it yourself!)
- Where else is information about your campus and programs available? Is it up-to-date and accurate?
Speak to Concerns with Empathy
When accepted students share their vulnerability and uncertainty, let them feel heard, seen, and answered. It’s not enough to acknowledge that these concerns exist—anticipate them and prepare proactive and thoughtful communications to ease their anxieties and fears.
Admitted students often expressed anxiety about their next steps. They talked about housing, such as the pros and cons of living on campus.
- Think about and complete the following for each of your social platforms and enrollment communications: My admissions audiences come for the [specific interest/engagement], but stay for the [value and community].
- Acknowledge the admissions process from the eyes of your audience. Speak to perceived challenges of your admissions process and share resources to help your audience move through them.
- Share external messaging that captures a spectrum of emotions involved in applying and selecting a school, not just the positive.
- Allow individuals with firsthand experience every opportunity to share their knowledge and connect with empathy.
Make it easy for an accepted student to share their excitement. Get creative in your approach and let your new class know that you’re just as excited to welcome them to the campus community. Set a strategy and get creative about how you amplify and uplift them during this exciting milestone in their lives.
Admitted students flock to their networks—especially on social media—to celebrate successes.
- Offer a space and opportunities for admitted students to share questions and milestones. Make sure it’s easy to find your primary account handles and that your digital and print collateral align and support social media sharing and tagging.
- Create an accepted student hashtag, class pendants, fun branded vinyl stickers, or a simple RT with a personalized comment as ways to amplify and spread the word about your campus.
- Pro tip: Don’t forget guidance counselors, caregivers, and pets—can your admitted student swag appeal to family members and supporters who are just as excited to share the good news?
Whether you implement a few of these ideas or the whole lot, you’ll be on your way to creating meaningful relationships with your students. The best thing you can do right now is listen to your audience and let them guide your strategy and set the tone. And remember, it’s okay to take it one engagement at a time.
Ready to take the next step?
Let us know how we can help you align and elevate your strategy with your enrollment targeting and positioning. We'd love to talk to you!