Top Marketing Strategies for Attracting Graduate Students

Posted: January 16, 2024

Christian Jessup Company Marketing Manager

Marketing to prospective graduate students presents a unique set of challenges distinct from the more defined processes of undergraduate marketing and admissions. It’s important for higher ed marketers to understand the nuances that set graduate enrollment apart and recognize the need for tailored strategies to effectively reach and engage this diverse demographic. Here are some key insights and strategies to elevate your graduate program marketing:

A SHIFTING TIMELINE

Unlike the rigid timelines of undergraduate admissions, the graduate space boasts a considerable degree of variability. With application deadlines, decisions, and enrollment periods scattered throughout the year, institutions must adapt to a more fluid and personalized marketing approach.

This timeline fluidity is particularly important as postgraduate prospects are navigating diverse lifestyles and responsibilities, a complex web of family, work, and financial considerations. The decision to return to school is often intertwined with career advancement, career pivots, or even just a commitment to lifelong learning, adding layers of complexity to the decision-making process.

VARIED MOTIVATIONS AND COMPETITORS

With more at stake, prospective graduate students dedicate extensive time to research and information absorption. Understanding this propensity for in-depth exploration is crucial for providing the detailed information these individuals seek.

The information you provide should cover a broad range of topics. Graduate messaging is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Motivations range from pursuing a hobby or interest to career progression to a complete change of fields. Do your research to understand who is really seeking graduate degrees and what type of students your institution has been attracting, especially in today’s shifting job market. Tailoring your content to appeal to the specific aspirations of your prospects creates a more personalized connection, making them feel seen and making you stand out from competitors.

Speaking of competitors, unlike undergraduate recruitment, graduate programs face competition from a variety of sources. You’re not only competing with other institutions, but also with alternative credential methods, in-house company workplace learning programs, the option to delay education, or the option to skip a graduate degree altogether. Keep this landscape in mind for not just effective differentiation, but effectively showcasing your value.

THIS ISN’T UNDERGRAD

Once you better understand the lifestyles and motivations of your graduate prospects, you still need to adjust your marketing efforts to this audience. One common pitfall is the tendency to approach graduate prospects with the same messaging designed for prospective undergraduates. This misalignment can result in a lack of resonance, showcasing a misunderstanding of the unique needs and goals of this demographic. For example, while campus community and extracurricular activities are often an effective messaging point for undergrads, graduate prospects likely care more about flexibility and career ROI, such as professional development and training opportunities. Make sure your messaging matches your audience.

Reaching graduate students also requires a diverse media channel mix tailored to their preferences. Sure, your TikTok and YouTube ads are seeing great performance in your undergraduate marketing, but is your graduate audience on those channels? A copy-paste approach from undergraduate recruitment often falls short, highlighting the need for strategic media planning that aligns with graduate prospects. Consider a better platform for graduate marketing such as LinkedIn, a channel with an older and more career-focused audience.

STRATEGY, STRATEGY, STRATEGY

Ultimately, having an effective strategy is the linchpin for maximizing your graduate recruitment and enrollment. It’s easy to want to jump ahead to designing ads or planning events, but thoughtful research and strategic analysis lay the foundation for building custom campaigns, both in media and creative, specifically targeted to resonate with your graduate students.

At VisionPoint Marketing, we recognize the need for strategic insights to drive impactful campaigns, fostering connections that go beyond information to deliver meaningful insights and, ultimately, successful enrollment outcomes. Fill out the form below to start the conversation with us about effective graduate marketing strategies.

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