Influencing the Influencer: Connecting with the Parents of Prospective Students
Higher Education Marketing

Influencing the Influencer: Connecting with the Parents of Prospective Students

Date posted: May 26, 2014

Parents have strong sway in a student’s choice of where to attend university or college. In Eduventure’s spring 2014 “Survey of Admitted Students”,  it was reported that over 60 % of prospective students responded that their parents were the most important influencer in their enrollment decision.

Most important influencersSource: Eduventures 

Students and parents clearly have different information priorities and choose different digital media to fulfill them.  For a full analysis of some of the differences, see Noel Levitz’s 2011 E-Expectations Report on Prospective Students and their Parents.   

Some of their findings included:

  • Among students who had Facebook accounts, 27 percent said that they had visited a college’s Facebook page, compared to just 12 percent of parents with Facebook accounts.
  • Only 9 percent of students and 5 percent of parents said they had Twitter accounts.
  • More than 75 percent of both parents and students said they never or only rarely read blogs.

I am sure some of these stats will have evolved since that original study was done but the most important point I want to make is that students and parents have different tastes and appetite of details. I am very sure that that is still that same. Once you understand the differences in context that you are working with here,  it’s time to define a mix of tactics that you believe will work to meet your content and communication priorities, with the parents of your prospective students.

Of course email is generally used by all to tie these recruitment efforts together, so we are not going to talk much about that. We’ll assume everyone is already well schooled in how to use email effectively.

So, here are eight examples of different digital marketing approaches that you can use to reach out to, and connect with, the parents of prospective student.

 1)      Newsletters

 2)      Facebook Pages

3)      Blogs

4)      Twitter Accounts

5)      YouTube Videos

6)      Webinars
7)      Online Chat

8)      Web Portals for Parents

Parents pages are very common but more and more schools are moving forward with this idea, creating fuller microsites or portals to serve the prospective and enrolled student parent experience. This web portal for parents is a good example of how to tie together all of the different digital channels seen in examples above and to offer the different types of information that you provide, all in one place. There is no question that it adds a significant element to your already over-taxed workload but the results can be well worth it!

As is evident, these communication channels are the same as you would use when communicating directly with your prospective students.  It’s the context in which you present your information to parents and the voice that you use to communicate it that are so very different.

What channels do you currently use to communicate with parents? What’s the most effective one in your mix? From your experience, are there any from the above that you would recommend not using?