Alongside delivering successful college courses, increasing student enrolment can be a difficult task to handle. As of 2021, there are over 1.7 million students currently in college education so it’s becoming increasingly competitive to drive up enrolments. Thankfully there are a number of education digital marketing strategies that are at your disposal to help. Let’s take a look at what you can do to increase student enrolment for your college.

1. Pay per click advertising

A pay per click (PPC) campaign is a surefire way to not only improve awareness, but also increase student enrolment. This form of advertising can be very cost effective as you only pay every time a user clicks on your ad and through to your website. There are a number of platforms that you can use to run an effective PPC campaign on, including…

Google Ads

Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by the search engine giant. Advertisers can display adverts to a specified target audience online based on a number of key demographics including age, gender, location and search intent. The two main campaigns you can run are;

  • Display ads. These are adverts that are shown in online articles, videos or websites that potential students will visit. While users may not be actively searching for colleges, the advert will be put in front of those who may be interested in enrolling – a great way of increasing awareness of your college.
  • Search ads. These adverts appear in the search results (SERPs). You’ll come across ads like these with near enough every query you enter. They are the text-based ads that appear at the very top of the SERPs with the ‘Ad’ tag next to the URL. What’s effective about adverts like these is that they are triggered by specific keywords – meaning your ad will directly match the user’s search query.

            Example of Google search ads for colleges

Social media

The vast majority of students that you are targeting will be on at least one of the major platforms including Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Instagram. Through tailoring your campaign to a specific audience based on behaviour, interests and key demographics, an effective social media campaign can go a long way in increasing student enrolment.

Optimise your college’s website

It’s been established that a PPC campaign is highly effective in improving awareness of a college and driving traffic to its website. However, if the site is poorly designed or difficult to navigate then you are unlikely to generate many serious leads. Your website is the first impression of your college, which means that it has to work well on both mobile and desktop.

Mobile-friendly website

Your potential students are constantly on the move. Given that mobile devices generate nearly 55% of all website traffic, delivering a website that works well on mobile is crucial. This means that you have to make sure that your site runs quickly. A slow website with pages that take too long to load will simply lead to your prospective students closing the tab without taking the desired action. Page speed is also a key ranking factor for Google, meaning that poor loading times will lead to your website falling down the SERPs.

Search engine optimisation

Page speed is just one of a huge number of ranking factors. To ensure that you have a steady, consistent stream of prospective students visiting your site, there are other search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies at your disposal.

Content creation

Creating content built around your prospective students will go a long way in improving rankings and increasing enrolments. This means that you need to identify the right keywords that your target audience is searching for.

For this you need to think about what your ideal student is – build a persona. What type of course are they searching for? What are their career aspirations? Are they looking to learn online or in-person? For example, a student looking to get into engineering is likely to be searching for ‘engineering courses’. To identify keywords and discover how many searches they attract, you can use tools like Semrush or Google Keyword Planner. This ensures you aren’t using a keyword that nobody is looking for.

It’s important to note that you should avoid jamming as many keywords on your page as possible. This is known as ‘keyword stuffing’ which Google views as spam, meaning you will actually drop down in the SERPs.

Local SEO

You may have heard of the ‘near me’ searches, otherwise known as ‘local searches’. This is incredibly important for colleges looking to increase enrolments and attract students who want to learn closer to home – the vast majority. This means that you’ll need to include the geographical location of your college within your web copy. So if your college is based in Portsmouth, then you could include ‘college courses in Portsmouth’ throughout your site.

If you haven’t already, then you should look at utilising Google My Business (GMB). This helps you get a more established appearance in the SERPs. By having a GMB profile, your college will qualify for the local pack. This makes it much easier for prospective students to find where you’re based. A profile will display all the important information such as name, address and phone number (NAP), as well as courses you offer and reviews of your college.

Google local pack as displayed in the SERPs

Utilise social media

While social media is great for running the PPC campaigns discussed earlier, that’s not all it’s good for. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are three very powerful platforms in being able to create a community and generate awareness. You should be sharing the latest news about your college – giving students a better idea of what a day in their life will be like. Promoting success stories, like impressive exam results, on social media will of course be effective in increasing student enrolment.

Increasing student enrolment

In this increasingly competitive market, colleges are faced with a number of challenges with the aim to increase student enrolment. However, through implementing a number of these strategies you can greatly improve awareness in your area. PPC campaigns can drive traffic to the college website, but it’s crucial that the site is quick and easy to navigate. Having a successful SEO strategy in place will help you rank well in the SERPs, further boosting visits. And of course, social media is always there to help build a strong online community and demonstrate what a day in the life of a college student is like and what they can achieve.


Author bio:

Oliver Griffiths has a passion for film, video games and technology. He is a campaign manager at Tillison Consulting running a number of clients’ digital marketing campaigns across all sectors and platforms. Tillison Consulting links: Education Marketing Agency