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Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is a generation that has grown up in a world intertwined with technology, diversity, and environmental issues with a particular focus on financial security and job stability.

How is Gen Z different from other generations? Gen-Z are digital natives who’ve grown up during the dawn of the internet. This has afforded them a unique comfort level in online spaces where they gather information about the outside world and make decisions according to the data they collect. “They’re very mindful of how they live and how they make their decisions,” Scott Cross pointed out in our recent webinar.

From their purchasing decisions to work choices, Gen-Z tends to take a pragmatic approach to life, presenting a unique set of challenges for educational marketers.

Core Characteristics of Gen Z

Navigating their digital world isn’t just about finding them – they’re in every corner of the internet, after all. Successful digital marketing to Gen-Z is about engaging with them on their terms. With their mobile device usage ranging from 60-80%, and their propensity to use social media for searches, Gen Z is redefining how education marketing strategy is planned and implemented.

Incorporating attention-grabbing short-form videos and keywords that match voice search preferences is just the tip of the iceberg. Marketers should be aware of rapidly evolving trends on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, and adapt their strategies accordingly. Let’s explore some essential best practices for connecting with your Gen-Z audience.

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Engaging Gen Z With Authentic Content

The need for authenticity is a hallmark of effective digital marketing for Gen Z. They profoundly value real-world insights and experiences, making student ambassador collaborations and authentic content crucial in earning their trust.

Institutions should leverage social media, especially TikTok and Instagram, to deliver unique and visually appealing content. Incorporating SEO into social media posts and utilizing specific hashtags can extend reach and visibility, particularly for targeting international students.

Parents of younger Gen Z-ers, largely comprising Gen X, also require content that resonates with their aspirations for their children’s education. Monitoring competitors and integrating online trends are essential tactics that can help tailor content strategies for domestic and international audiences.

Want to learn more about engaging with your Gen-Z audience? Assess your readiness to appeal to this unique market for free.

Prioritizing Mobile Optimization

Gen Z’s reliance on mobile devices necessitates a mobile-first approach to digital marketing. Ensuring your website and all digital content are optimized for mobile viewing is paramount. This includes a responsive design, fast loading times, and easy navigation. 

Mobile optimization also means creating content that is easily consumable on smaller screens, such as vertical videos and swipeable stories. Additionally, consider mobile-friendly formats like carousels and interactive polls on social media platforms to enhance engagement.

Mobile-optimized content facilitates interactive engagement which is a hit with Gen-Z. This includes quizzes offering valuable insights into your target’s preferences, needs, and thoughts on your institution. 

You can also incorporate gamification appealing to Gen-Z’s appreciation of nostalgic entertainment. For example, try a virtual campus scavenger hunt that teaches prospects more about your institution and provides the perfect opportunity to show off your amenities.

R-MA Story

Source: Facebook | Randolph-Macon Academy

Example: Stories like the one pictured above are perfect for engaging with Gen-Z. Quick, timely, interactive, and optimized for viewing on mobile devices, stories, reels, and carousel-style posts are an excellent way to stay relevant in the minds of your Gen-Z prospects.

Leveraging Student Ambassador Partnerships

Influencers hold significant sway over Gen Z, making them invaluable partners. In the educational marketing sphere, student ambassadors are equivalent to influencers. Collaborating with them can amplify your reach and credibility. Collaborations can take many forms like Instagram takeovers, live Q&A sessions, and info sessions.

Educational institutions can also involve student ambassadors by inviting them to share their personal experiences, campus life, and academic journeys, providing a relatable and authentic perspective for prospective students.

Student Ambassadors JCU

Source: John Cabot University

Example: John Cabot University makes excellent use of student ambassadors in their marketing strategy, positioning them as relatable mentors within the age group of prospective students. They are easy to contact and serve as a resource for information on courses, residence, and adapting to university life.

Tactics for Connecting With Gen Z Learners

Before attempting to engage with your Gen-Z audience, it’s essential to identify their key characteristics, motivations, and concerns and develop key messages for content that resonates with your target.

We accomplish this through a process called persona building. It involves collecting demographic information to create a semi-fictional character representing your target audience. Targeted personas aid content planning and brand unity. Here’s what an effective persona could look like:


Once you’re sure who you’re targeting, it’s time to identify effective ways of engaging them. Keeping a digital-first audience, characterized by a rather short attention span involves using interactive tactics such as quizzes, polls, gamification, and interactive content.

What is Gen Z’s digital use? Gen Z spends considerable time on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, seeking authenticity and real-time connections. Short, engaging video content is paramount, as is fostering community engagement through online forums and user-generated content.

Experiential marketing, virtual events, and content marketing must be tailored to Gen Z’s unique decision-making processes. Podcasts also present a valuable opportunity when their content is optimized for written summaries, enhancing SEO.

Gen Z's Digital Consumption at a Glance

Measuring Success in the Gen Z Market

Understanding the impact of these strategies is vital. Metrics like website analytics, social media engagement, follower growth, engagement rate, content performance, and feedback should be closely monitored. Success in engaging with Gen Z is a blend of social media channels, visual content, user-generated content, and robust SEO practices.

Harness the wave of Gen Z and transform your educational marketing strategy from conventional to revolutionary. Capture their digital essence and turn it into engagement and trust, laying the foundation for a tech-forward educational journey that matches their high expectations. It’s time to speak their language, in bytes and visuals, and make every click and view count.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How is Gen Z different from other generations?

Answer: Gen-Z are digital natives who’ve grown up during the dawn of the internet. This has afforded them a unique comfort level in online spaces.

Question: What is Gen Z’s digital use? 

Answer: Gen Z spends considerable time on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, seeking authenticity and real-time connections.