Video Marketing Strategies for Higher Education


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(Ad) Higher education is getting more and more competitive every year – schools are competing for students using every tool in their marketing and advertising arsenal.

If you’re wondering where to invest your budget in attracting more students, you might have wondered if video marketing is worth your time and attention. It absolutely is – and this guide will take you through the most effective video marketing strategies for higher education institutions. Let’s get started!

Education Video Marketing Overview

Why is higher education video marketing worth investing in? Because video marketing has a proven impact on admissions and enrollment numbers –68% of prospective undergrads say that videos were an influence on their final decision.

And colleges and universities are investing in video because it’s become such a huge part of how people use the internet, particularly younger generations. The amount of time people spend watching videos online has nearly doubled since 2018.

If your digital marketing plan ignores videos, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with and engage potential students and their parents.

And if you’ve experimented with videos but haven’t found much success with them, it’s possible that your strategy is lacking or non-existent. Simply posting videos and hoping they’ll perform well isn’t a great plan – here’s exactly how to create a better one.

Define the Goals of Your School’s Video Marketing Strategy

To begin building the right strategy for your college marketing videos, you need to clearly define your video campaign goals.

Creating videos without a defined plan because you see your competition doing well with them isn’t going to yield you the best results. And since creating videos requires a significant investment of time and money, you don’t want to make that investment without a clear plan.

Your video marketing strategy should describe what you want your videos to accomplish before you film and distribute them.

Some potential goals for your university video marketing campaign could include:

  • Building awareness of a new program
  • Generating more prospects and increasing enrollment
  • Increasing your conversion rate
  • Building brand engagement through storytelling
  • Getting more engagement on your social media channels

Once you’ve defined your goal for the campaign, your messaging and content should all be aimed at that goal.

For example, suppose you’re looking to get new leads. In that case, your video content should focus on content that speaks to potential students and gets them excited about exploring your college or university.

Targeting the Right Audience

The audience for your college marketing videos is also vital to determine before you begin creating them. Are you looking to engage the students who might be attending your university, or are you trying to target their parents?

Engaging students is essential for universities because they will likely be the first to find your recruitment videos and demonstrate interest. Don’t forget that there are many different types of prospective students – targeting by persona can be more effective at achieving your goals.

However, parents are likely to be the ones who will invest in the cost of your tuition and will have a lot of say in the final decision. If you’re looking to increase enrollments, they might be the group to speak to.

The messaging for each audience will be different, especially if you’re promoting your adult learning programs. The platform for distributing the videos may shift with each persona, so you should determine the audience before you start creating content.

Types of Videos for Your University or College

Once your goals are decided, and the audience identified, you can begin creating your video content. Unsure where to start? These college promotional video ideas can inspire your upcoming campaign.

Campus Tour Videos

With some on-campus tours getting canceled because of the pandemic and long-haul and international travel disrupted, creating compelling campus tour videos is essential for schools.

Your campus tour videos should be both engaging and informative. You can take students virtually into a classroom with a charismatic professor, a popular student hangout, and around the campus with a student guide, just as you would in-person.

This campus tour video from the University of New Hampshire is a great example of engaging and informative content.

New Student Search Campaigns

The process of converting prospects and leads into new students has many stages – most include getting them excited while envisioning their life at your school and covering the practical aspects of the admissions process.

Applicant Communications

What kind of communications can applicants and prospects expect from your school? Give them a sneak peek by featuring them in videos, showing students receiving acceptance letters, or walking them through other communications touchpoints.

Parent Messaging

While students will want to see videos about campus life and traditions, parents will typically have more practical concerns. You can create videos that address these concerns, such as financial aid processes, safety on campus, and housing options.

Admissions & Enrollment

Walking potential applicants through the application and enrollment process via video can help ensure they follow through on filling out applications and enrolling and don’t get confused.

Welcome to Campus

What can new students expect when they arrive on campus to begin their education at your school? Creating a video that gives them a taste of what the start of the exciting next phase of their life will be like can be effective at getting them excited to join you while putting nervous parents at ease as well.

Boston College creates a welcome video for each class – this one from 2021 walks them through the highlights of their upcoming college experience.

Unique Commencement Addresses

If you’ve had celebrities or other well-known speakers at your commencement ceremonies, those can be great sources of video content that you likely already have on film.

Stanford University added the 2021 commencement address from the actor, writer, and producer Issa Rae to their YouTube channel, and it’s received hundreds of thousands of views.

Personalized Video Content

Creating one-size-fits-all videos isn’t always good enough to convert leads into students these days. Personalized videos are more effective and becoming the norm in digital marketing for universities and colleges. Personalized videos also have much higher open and click-through rates.

You can personalize videos for prospective students based on your information about them. Some ideas for personalized college marketing videos include:

  • Explainers about the application process
  • Custom campus tours based on potential majors or interests
  • Explanations of the financial aid process
  • Individual acceptance videos

Sample Course Content

Potential students often want to know what the courses they could take will look like before they decide to apply – and their parents could be interested as well. Creating sample course videos that give them an idea of what a class will look like or what a semester will cover can be very appealing.

Livestream Events

One low-cost way to create more video content is to live-stream events you have already planned on your website and/or your social media channels. Doing this gives your events more exposure while showing potential students and their parents some of what they can expect to experience at your school if they are offered and accept admission.

Student, Alumni, and Faculty Testimonials

To show the education, connections, and values that alumni have received from attending your school can help convince parents and students that attendance is a good investment. Video testimonials are a great way to convey this information in an engaging way.

Harvard University alumni speak about how their education shaped them for the better.

Research Spotlights

If your university or college produces exciting research, you could share those accomplishments in video content for students and parents.

This video from Rutgers University about the research that went into growing the perfect hot pepper is a great example of this kind of video.

The Importance of User-Generated Content

And if creating hundreds of videos a year seems overwhelming, know that you don’t need to do it all yourself. Encouraging current students to create videos of their campus experience and sharing them can help you target prospective students without needing to make every video on your own.

Why Your School Shouldn’t Overlook Short Form Videos

With shorter videos, your viewers are more likely to make it to the end. And short-form videos can be shared on platforms that the demographic of prospective students love, like Instagram Reels and TikTok, making short-form videos appealingly multi-purpose.

Marketing Your University’s Video Content

By analia