How Colleges Can Create a Personal Experience Without In-Person Interaction

How Colleges Can Create a Personal Experience Without In-Person Interaction

The COVID-19 pandemic has indelibly changed the way we interact and communicate. Now that the vaccine rollout is in place, there’s finally an end in sight, though experts predict we still have months before things start to look more normal. 

In higher education, many colleges are still a long way from resuming in-person activities like fundraising and college fairs. The absence of personal networking opportunities has posed a challenge for us here at MindMax, too. 

In December, MindMax Founder & CEO Lee Maxey presented at the virtual 2020 UPCEA Marketing and Enrollment Management Seminar. While we’re grateful that conferences have adapted to accommodate remote attendance, nothing truly replaces face-to-face conversation. 

How do you best replicate organic interaction when you can’t be in-person? 

The obvious answer is that conversations need to effectively leverage the digital space. Here at MindMax, we’ve spent much of the pandemic examining our own digital presence. Our goal has been to make our online interaction more personal, closer to a real-life dialogue. Institutions of all sizes can—and should—apply these learnings. Any changes you make will have lasting positive effects long after the pandemic is over.

Strategies for Personal Networking in a Digital Space

Move the Conversation Online

Are your school’s digital marketing channels (e.g. website, email, advertisements) effectively representing your institution? Does your digital marketing give prospects a sense of your college’s values, what student life is like, and how they’ll benefit from becoming a student? It’s challenging to do all that online—but not impossible. 

Examine your content and ask questions to craft an online experience that feels more like an authentic conversation: 

  • Is the user experience easy to navigate?
  • Will potential students understand and respond to your messaging? 
  • Can your content be easily accessed from any device (e.g., a mobile-responsive website for smartphone users)? 
  • What other content (e.g. podcasts, webinars, blogs) could you be putting out to reach and resonate with prospective students?

Supplement Cold Outreach with Digital Assets

Now more than ever, there’s an opportunity to make the most of digital assets as part of your university’s demand generation strategy. You can rely on the strength of thoughtful, high-quality content to warm up cold outreach, establish trust, and build credibility:

  • Use retargeted marketing to direct a lead to a valuable blog post 
  • Continue the enrollment conversation with prospective students by sending newly published content their way
  • Foster collaboration between different departments (e.g. customer service, sales, marketing) to make better informed decisions about which content to reference and when

Prepare for a Longer Consideration Process

Nurturing prospective students through the consideration process looks different during a pandemic—or any time of economic instability, for that matter. Potential students may continue the “wait and see” approach for the next several months before making a big decision. This hesitancy can result in a longer enrollment cycle than what colleges typically see for their programs.

In short, schools must find creative ways to showcase their value, without the in-person interactions and experiences that act as key differentiators and selling points. It’s vital that colleges build up the digital presence needed to effectively communicate who they are in the online space. 

For support strengthening your institution’s digital marketing strategy, connect with MindMax to learn more about our demand generation services.