8 Ways to Recycle Student Testimonials for Maximum Recruitment Mileage
Date posted: March 2, 2016
Testimonials are one of the most powerful and enduring marketing tools out there.
When was the last time you tried a new restaurant or made an important purchase without first scanning dozens of user reviews?
A recent consumer survey found that 90% of us check reviews as a matter of course, before making any final purchasing decisions.
Of course, selecting a school is really no different. Students and parents will examine a wide range of ranking reports and student feedback when comparing their options.
Testimonials from parents, students and alumni (depending on your audience) are absolutely crucial for:
- Building trust in your programs and educational model
- Resolving doubts and other barriers to enrollment
- Steering the narrative away from salesy self-promotion (which will do more harm than good)
But while gathering testimonials is crucial, you may only have time to solicit a handful of new ones each year.
A surprising number of schools – K12, universities, career colleges, language institutes – neglect to fully leverage their hard-earned reviews.
You may have recorded those video interviews (or collected those feedback forms) with YouTube or a specific promotional campaign in mind. But why limit the possibilities?
Here are 8 ways to re-package, recycle, and re-use testimonials, and multiply their recruitment power both on and offline.
1. Turn Testimonials into Feature Blog Posts
Blogging is a key element of your school’s inbound marketing strategy for student recruitment. Done well, blog posts help:
- add quality content to your website
- create opportunities for link-building
- boost your visibility in search engine results
- enhance your online presence with personalized, shareable content
But coming up with consistently engaging and well-written posts is extremely challenging for most schools, who operate with a small team of admissions and recruitment professionals.
Save yourself some time by re-purposing your existing testimonials as student-focussed blog posts.
If you’ve used interviews to gather feedback from students, you can simply add an introduction, some subtitles, an image or two, and a strong Call-to-Action before publishing the content as blog posts.
If you’ve asked students for a simple statement about why they love your school, or how they’ve succeeded following graduation, flesh out the content by following up with a more detailed interview. Select students who best reflect your target audiences, and whose stories will inspire and motivate prospective applicants.
Here’s a great example from Trebas Institute who interviews students to gather success stories. Then, those testimonials are transformed into SEO-optimized blog posts and shared across social media:
Blog posts that demonstrate the value of your educational programs should be a staple of your student recruitment content strategy. Treat every testimonial or quote as a potential new narrative to develop and share with fans online.
2. Sample Testimonials for Social Media Short Quotes
Research shows that at least 68% of prospective students visit your social media channels as a way of evaluating your school. What are they looking for? Proof from their peer group (your student community) that your institution is the one they should select.
If you’re hoping to attract new fans online, increase website referrals, and generate student inquiries from social, you should put testimonials front and center.
In addition to sharing whole videos, sample your interviews and inspiring student reviews for short quotes that support your school’s key marketing messages. There are many different ways to leverage these:
- paired with images of graduation ceremonies
- combined with an open house announcement
- as part of an motivational campaign around exam times
- coupled with application deadline or start-date reminders
Here’s how the career college, Academy of Learning highlights student reviews on Instagram. Short quotes like these (likely taken from longer interviews or feedback surveys) support some of their most important claims around flexibility, personalized instruction, and caring staff:
Notice how the college is careful to contextualize the testimonial by naming the student, describing his goals, and including a CTA to encourage inquiries.
3. Distribute Testimonials Strategically Across Your Website
Well-placed testimonials add credibility to your website. They inspire longer visits, and when combined with on-page forms and strong CTAs, can help schools generate more student leads.
In addition to the homepage, it’s always a good idea to place testimonials on your academic program pages, where you know prospective students will go to learn more about specific study areas and courses.
When re-using video testimonials from a previous project, just be sure to include a brief text-based introduction. Let your website visitors know who they’ll be meeting in the video to hook their interest and entice more views.
Here’s a great example from the Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy. OVCMT includes a descriptive hook with this program page video testimonial, letting viewers know what’s special about the content:
You can also pluck a line or two from a longer testimonial to enhance an important key marketing message on one of your website pages. In this next example, Lakefield College School (a private day and boarding school) uses a well-placed short quote to help parents see the benefits of living away at school.
4. Curate a Dedicated Testimonials Section on Your School Website
This suggestion seems fairly intuitive, so it’s surprising just how many educational institutions forget to do it!
If you have a series of interviews with happy current students, successful alumni, and satisfied parents, consider giving them a permanent home on your website.
Visitors will be sure to visit this section when researching your school and weighing their enrolment options.
Curate a selection of your existing testimonials, spread across study areas, putting emphasis on themes that matter most to your target audience (campus safety, employment outcomes, personalized instruction, hands-on learning, internship opportunities, instructor prestige, support for international students, etc).
Here’s an example from John Cabot University who features a link on their homepage to a testimonial section called “The JCU People Hub.” This section includes both text and video-based content, and is divided into helpful categories:
And here’s how the University of York Law School curates and categorizes a selection of YouTube-based video testimonials on their website – for easy access by visitors interested in specific topics:
5. Broadcast Testimonials at Your Next Open House
Who said student testimonials are only useful for online marketing? Set up a big screen and run a series of video reviews or inspiring short quotes (paired with images) at your next open house event.
Or set up a series of media stations, categorized by subject area/theme, so visitors can zero-in on the real-life stories that matter most to them.
6. Decorate Your School with Existing Testimonials
This is a great tactic for year-round engagement with visiting students and families. Ideal for institutions of all kinds, from K12 to university, incorporating testimonials into your school’s décor sends a persuasive, highly visible message, to new prospects.
Younger students can hand-make their statements (perhaps sourced from a larger project on life at your school) and post them in your entrance and hallways.
For older audiences, consider re-purposing existing content to create a display wall of student success stories. Focus on positive alumni outcomes and don’t forget to always include pictures. The possibilities are endless!
7. Recycle Testimonials on Your Paid Search Landing Pages
In order to generate leads and inquiries, your landing pages must be persuasive on several levels.
- They must clearly explain why your institution or program is uniquely desirable to the target audience
- They must instantly connect with the distinct motivations and concerns of the visitor
- They must communicate a trustworthy, reputable school brand
- They must pique enough interest that the visitor feels inspired to fill out the form
While several elements come together to achieve these goals, one of the most crucial is the student testimonial.
As always, no one tells your brand story better than a happy student or successful graduate.
Re-package your testimonials in both video and short-quote form on your landing pages to see an increase in new leads from paid search campaigns.
Here’s a good example from the University of Roehampton, who puts their landing page testimonial front and centre:
8. Publish Testimonials on Your Print & e-brochures
Whether you’re going with print, e-versions, or a combination of both – promotional brochures are the ideal place to re-use your student testimonials.
A good balance between institutional messaging and authentic student stories will help your brochure avoid self-promotional quicksand.
Here’s an example from Spokane Community College’s e-brochure, where each page features a different video testimonial:
You could use some of the video testimonials you’ve already added to your YouTube channel, or posted on your university website. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel when resources and time are limited.
Here’s a look at how Flinders University incorporates student reviews into their e-brochure:
And there you have it. Eight starting points for extending the life of your student testimonials, and getting the most out of each and every positive story.
Know other creative ways to re-purpose and amplify student testimonials? We’d love to hear your comments or questions in the section below!