The Rules of Engagement: Building an Intelligent Engagement Strategy

The Rules of Engagement: Building an Intelligent Engagement Strategy

Engagement strategy is a crucial component of your ongoing marketing efforts. Quality certainly beats priority when it comes to engagement. Most schools are focused on boosting their engagement numbers, and while that’s important, high-quality engagement matters more. 

When MindMax works with schools on their engagement, we build a strategy around three core principles that help schools connect with prospective students in a more meaningful and personal way. These principles can be used to determine how to engage with prospective students at any point in the consideration process.

  • Respect. Like anyone else, prospective students want to be treated respectfully. They don’t want to receive an avalanche of unwanted emails or be asked to fill out a lead capture form with two dozen fields. Find the balancing point between push and pull: how much content you should push out vs. how much content they should pull in by requesting it. Students should be able to learn enough about your school to intrigue them, but specific details on programs or financial aid should be sent out by request only. 
  • Relevance. Make your marketing as personally relevant as possible. Once a prospective student has visited your website or opened an ad, you can use that data to retarget them based upon their program interests, financial questions, and other factors. If you aren’t sure if something is true for a student and don’t have adequate supporting data, don’t overstep or make assumptions about them. Making a false assumption can quickly poison the well of the relationship for good.
  • Timeliness. Being timely is the most important factor in today’s busy world, and it’s important to set (and keep) a good communication cadence with prospective students. Leverage a marketing automation system to implement a consistent but customizable connection rhythm. For example, you might increase the cadence for a particular program as the enrollment deadline approaches, then slow it down after enrollment has closed. Use data tactically—based on someone’s behavior, discover where they are in the decision process and determine how often to reach out to them. 

The Medium is the Message

The principles of engagement apply across all marketing channels, but the channel you use to convey your message is as important as the message itself. Some content is best suited for email; other information belongs on your website. 

Here’s how you might customize your content and approach based on the marketing channel you’re using: 

  • Email: Solicits an action. An email prompts the reader to do something. Therefore, be clear and brief. Include between one and three calls to action (five is far too many). Each email should have no more than two clear objectives. 
  • Website: Delivers information. Use your website to deliver more in-depth content. The site should be easy to navigate, provide potential students with enough information to pique their interest, and answer any common questions.
  • Podcast: Delivers complex content. If podcasts are part of your marketing strategy, use them to do deep dives into specific programs, history, or unique facets of your university. Your audience is likely already highly engaged, so leverage this channel to tell a compelling, in-depth story about your school.
  • Live Chat or Phone Call: Answers specific questions. A live chat feature or call center is a hands-on way to answer prospective students’ questions about your website or application process. Live chat (with real people rather than bots), especially helpful for non-native international students, is a way to offer support and show respect—and that makes your school stand out.

If you want to create quality engagement that converts to happy students, employ the “rules of engagement” and create thoughtful content that’s appropriate to marketing channels you’re using. High-quality engagement requires dedication and insight, but the rewards are increased enrollments and strong relationships. 

MindMax offers advisory services that can help your school craft an actionable plan for engagement strategy. If you’d like to see what MindMax can do for you, email Courtney Holt at for more information.