facebook marketing strategies

Facebook Marketing Strategies for Higher Education

facebook marketing strategies

Social media has become increasingly important to marketing, branding, and lead generation. This is just as true In the higher education industry where your audience may be spread across multiple social media channels, from master’s and doctoral candidates on LinkedIn to bachelor’s degree hopefuls on Instagram.

Despite the current social media attention centered on TikTok (and Clubhouse, more recently), one cannot deny the massive presence of Facebook in nearly everyone’s lives. According to Statista, there are 2.6 billion monthly active users on Facebook, and, as of January 2020, it was found that 98% of active users accessed their Facebook account from their mobile devices. (Keep this information handy!)   

Facebook Ads for Higher Education 

By now you know that it’s important to reach prospective students on social media, but each unique platform should be handled a little differently. This is where an expert can help you make the most of your social media strategies.   

Sextant has helped many higher-ed clients create Facebook ads for their university and target their prospective students and/or parents to generate interest and student leads. Like most social media platforms, Facebook offers an Ads Manager platform via which you can create ads, set targeting, and launch your campaigns to reach prospective students.  

Must-use Facebook Marketing Strategies 

Following are a few of the best Facebook marketing strategies for higher education that Sextant Marketing uses to drive results. 

Choose the right campaign objective. 

When starting a new Facebook campaign, be clear about your main objective. Do you want to increase awareness of your university? Is your aim to improve engagement with potential student leads? Or do you want to generate student leads via a lead generation form or a landing page?

Regardless of your goals, Facebook Ads Manager offers campaign objectives that will fit your strategy like Brand Awareness, Reach, Engagement, Video Views, Lead Generation, Conversions, etc. This objective might change depending on the stages of the student journey you are trying to target. Adjust your Facebook campaign strategy as needed.


Define and refine the target audience. 

Once you choose the campaign objective based on your business goals, you can then define your target by creating custom audiences and lookalike audiences and refining them based on detailed interest targeting.  

The Custom Audiences campaign objective allows advertisers to find existing audiences among people who are already on Facebook. The most frequently used custom audience sources are websites, customer lists, and engagement on Facebook pages. 


If you want to grow the target audience size, combine custom audiences with Lookalike Audiences. To further refine your audience, focus on location, age, gender, detailed targeting (demographics, interest, and behaviors), and languages. Utilize the exclusions feature to exclude certain users that you absolutely don’t want to target.  

We recommend starting broad with your target audience and going narrower as you optimize your campaign learnings.

The Apple ios14 update has impacted audience sizes and how Facebook reports on conversions, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on your audience sizes and conversion volume.  

While Facebook’s targeting might not have the robust professional data that helps target your enrollment leads on LinkedIn very easily, it is still the primary social network for higher ed and something your college or university should not miss out on.  

Select the best ad format for you. 

There are multiple ad formats to choose from when launching a campaign on Facebook. You can select a single image, carousel, collection, or video ad. If you’re utilizing a video ad, don't forget the close captioning. We all watch Facebook videos on our phones without sound sometimes, so close captioning will ensure the video is accessible and the message is effectively communicated.  

Remember to follow Facebook’s Ad guidelines for design specification and technical requirements across each platform and placement. 

Regardless of which ad format you choose for your campaign, it is important to use relevant call-to-action (CTA) buttons (learn more, apply now, etc.)


Look at your ad placements. 

Facebook offers multiple ad placements such as Facebook news feed, Facebook and Instagram stories, Instagram explore, Instant Articles, Marketplace, etc. Sextant recommends starting a campaign with automatic placements to maximize your budget and visibility. Reviewing your placement performance and manually selecting the placement that works best for your university based on that information will yield the best results.  




Don’t forget about pixels! 

Facebook pixel is a code that is implemented on the back end of your website that will help you track and collect data. Tracking becomes particularly important when you have invested your media dollars into a platform. The tracking data will tell you how the users you reach react to your ads and what kind of action they take when they click on your landing page or open a lead-gen form.  

Facebook pixels help you measure results, optimize campaigns, and retarget visitors.  Setting up the Facebook pixel will help you track the actions students are taking on your website after viewing your ad and help you optimize your campaigns effectively.  

Test your messaging and ad creative. 

Videos are popular and are great for engagement, but you can still get results from a single image ad or a carousel ad. The trick is to test your ad creative and messaging to discover what resonates with your audience. Once you determine your best creative and messaging, you can implement those across other campaigns. There are several ways to A/B test within Facebook Ads Manager depending on what variables (ad creative, audience, or placements) you are trying to test.  

Review Performance, optimize, and repeat! 

As with all digital advertising, Facebook advertising is not a one-time launch-and-done scenario. We recommended regularly reviewing performance, optimizing according to data, and refreshing ad creative and messaging. With each campaign, your university will not only have a chance to land in front of prospective students but also educate those students on why they should choose your university. It’s an important opportunity to learn more about your target audience and how they react to or resonate with your brand messaging.  

How can Sextant help you with Facebook ads for your higher-ed institution?  

Sextant marketing creates digital media strategies for higher ed across multiple platforms.

We get results.

While Facebook is the most used platform of all, others like LinkedIn offer advantages too like detailed targeting and high-quality leads that play an important role in delivering those results.  

Contact Sextant Marketing and learn how we use a personalized approach to create and implement effective Facebook marketing strategies for our clients and how Sextant can help you do the same.  

University Branding Strategy

University Branding: How to Tell a Story Prospective Students Want to Hear

University Branding Strategy

What is your university’s brand? Where do you find it? Is it in the bucolic campus quad? Its storied past? The dean’s office? The alumni newsletter? The mix of degree programs or reputation of its professors? The excellent research opportunities for post-grads? The football team?

The short answer is yes. And no.

A university brand encompasses every aspect of what makes it great. But telling a persuasive story is the art of clarity, precision, and understanding your hero’s journey. 

For each element that comes together to make a college or university great there are motivated, passionate women and men behind it, each with their own idea of what is most important, all vying for the attention of our hero - the right student.

In order to build our story we need to get out of our silos. If your brand is everywhere, it’s nowhere.

University branding is a whole greater than its parts. It feels like a daunting task. But all the elements are there. You’ve done much of the hard work. It is on that hard work that we build a brand.

How to Market to College Students - The Art of Sacrifice

Branding, Chris Perkins of Bernstein-Rein told Sextant in a recent interview, is “knowing your ‘why’ and ‘who would care?’” It means know your True North, who you truly are and why you do what you do.

Put another way, a successful brand understands and articulates its mission, it knows who that mission serves, and how to tell a story that is compelling for those people. A good brand brings it all together.

The challenge here is precision. There is a natural tendency to try to “boil the ocean,” Perkins says. It’s not so much about finding any student, but the right student.

After all, our story and our brand is exclusive. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to university branding, though Perkins sees ad agencies and marketing firms try.

“Positioning is the art of sacrifice,” says Perkins. “A position done well automatically disqualifies the right people for the right reasons.” It requires precision. This, he explains, is why Bernstein-Rein is a key partner of Sextant Marketing.

Sacrifice is hard. When done for the right reasons, it leads to clarity. At its best, a clear message is a simple message.

University Branding Strategy - A Holistic Approach

Articulating a brand that resonates is no simple task. According to Greg Ash, president of the advertising firm Heavy Studios, one of the “pitfalls that often come” up is integrating the many components that make up a great college or university into a single, compelling message.

Everyone has the same goal in mind - elevating the brand of the university, furthering its mission, but there are many perspectives to consider. What constitutes “brand” in the mind of one department may not necessarily resonate the same in another.

“When colleges and universities use the term brand, it can mean a lot of different things,” says Ash. “It can mean something as targeted as an admissions campaign trying to recruit the next class or it could mean raising money... focused on giving initiative. Maybe it's about reputation, development, or management. It could be around faculty recruitment.”

It is a challenge, but managed strategically, all these various perspectives come together, like a well-diversified portfolio, into a brand “holistic enough to consider all those audiences and applications,” Ash says.

With a sound strategy of collaboration, precision, and focus, we have our ‘why.’ Now it’s time to tell our story.

Create a Conversation with Your Audience

According to the New Oxford American dictionary, a conversation is “a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged.” It’s a connection.

It may seem like oversimplification but connecting with your audience is really just a conversation. Asking a lot of questions and listening. Mostly listening.

“It’s not rocket science,” says Greg Ash. “It's a series of interviews with students, faculty, alumni, donors, the cleaning crew, campus security, folks in the surrounding neighborhood, the football team, the servers at the bar down the street where all the kids hang.”

Inevitably they’ll all say a lot of different things, the professor from the bartender, the cleaning crew from the quarterback. But what you realize is that there are bits and pieces that each has in common. When you boil that down into the four elements shared by all, you have the foundation upon which you can build a unique message.

“You always come back to those four things that you heard across 75 different interviews, Ash says, and with those four things,” you know exactly how to tell your story.”

By listening, you know what to say. Though you won’t say it exactly the same way to each person.

Generational Marketing - Know Your Audience

Traditional college-age students grew up in a different media landscape than their parents or adult students. If the story remains essentially the same, the format for telling it is important for generational marketing.

Technology has lowered the cost of entry for access to advanced story-telling tools. Upper funnel techniques like video campus tours are important methods for extending a school’s outreach, especially in the challenging situations brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether a video tour or a printed brochure, it’s the story that connects.

“What cool stuff happens in this lab?” says Ash. “What amazing breakthrough was thought of in this classroom? Who sat in these chairs?”

That’s where you find your connection, your conversation, with the people who care.

Your Students Tell Your Story

All these things may help inform the story that makes the brand, but ultimately, the best place to look for a college or university brand is in the students themselves. Find your students where they are and let them tell your story.

University branding is no less a challenge than it ever was. More so now with increased competition and the rise of online education, especially in response to the COVID-19 health crises.

Any good story employs both a top-down and bottom-up perspective. From the top we consider what the story is, why we want to tell it, to whom we will tell it, and why they should care. From the bottom comes how we tell the story and all the elements that comprise the whole.

What the people associated with your brand say about you informs your raison d’être.

Sextant Marketing - Your Partner in Branding Strategy

Sextant Marketing’s vision is of a world where each prospective student selects the right institution to support their best learning experience.

A student’s journey begins with a story, a conversation, and a brand connection. Sextant Marketing is an extension of your brand story.

We are a full-service marketing consultancy and a comprehensive complete enrollment cycle management partner for residential and online programs. Sextant is uniquely positioned to understand and articulate your brand, telling an engaging story that reflects and connects with your ideal student.

Our storytelling framework is built on a diverse set of tools. Used individually or collectively, we create the foundation for a holistic, coordinated, and persuasive brand narrative.

College branding is at once complex and simple. Sextant Marketing understands both. Our mission, our raison d’être, is incorporating the complexities of college branding into a story that connects with your students. One that lasts throughout their journey, from discovery, enrollment, and study, to graduation and whatever lies ahead.

Student wearing mask looking at phone with personalized digital recruitment message

Personalized Digital Recruitment and Enrollment Management for Higher Education

A growing number of colleges and universities stay competitive by employing data analytics and digital tools to create successful strategic enrollment management plans. 

Student wearing mask looking at phone with personalized digital recruitment message

A new survey has found more college and university admissions offices are driving creation of strategic enrollment management (SEM) plans through the use of data analytics and digital recruitment.

It’s an approach Sextant Marketing successfully implements every day for academic institutions. By using digital recruitment strategies in SEM plan development, schools can improve how they  identify, recruit and support students.

The new survey, conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and Salesforce, reported that 65% of school admissions offices have SEM plans designed to align their efforts with the institution’s overall vision and mission.

More than half (52%) reported that they either completely outsource data analytics work for undergraduate admissions or work in collaboration with an outside agency.

Julie Walbrun, MBA, BSN, Director of Client Services at Sextant Marketing, said the survey’s findings reflect Sextant’s client base. She said some academic institutions have fully staffed data analytics departments, while others understand the need but may not have the required manpower or expertise.

“Sextant is comfortable consulting universities with any level of expertise,” Walbrun said. “Institutions can outsource areas to Sextant where they need our in-depth knowledge and experience. With some clients, we manage 100% of enrollment data and media buying. With others, we manage a portion. It’s up to the needs of the client, and Sextant is happy to support them at any level.”

Key Findings from the College Admissions Survey

NACAC and Salesforce conducted the survey by contacting 1,194 four-year colleges and universities to find out how admission offices use data strategically to develop and achieve institutional goals.

The survey focused on questions about SEM plans, data analytic capabilities, predictive enrollment modeling and the source of various data analytic functions (in-house or outsourced).

Some of the findings include the following.

  • While 65% of admissions offices have SEM plans, 36% have no SEM plan or were unsure if they do.
  • Among institutions with SEM plans, about 72% called the plan very important in guiding recruitment efforts
  • The areas that schools outsource the most are search, predictive modeling, geodemographics, prospect pool, financial aid, and enrollment forecasting

Schools also reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them to rethink approaches to recruiting a freshman class for 2021. Already, college fairs have moved online and campus tours have gone virtual. Admissions offices must now find new ways to reach potential students, and digital recruitment can help them meet the challenge.

“Colleges and universities are having to change how they connect with students, and they’re having to do it quickly,” NACAC CEO Angel Pérez said in a news release about the survey.

How Sextant Marketing Guides Clients to Personalized Digital Recruitment

Developing an SEM plan that leverages digital recruitment strategies and tools is essential to  compete in the current higher education environment. It’s also critical in supporting an institution’s mission to recruit a diverse group of students and support their academic success.

Sextant takes a student-centric approach in that digital recruitment meets students where they are through social and mobile technologies. Insight gathered from data analytics helps schools better understand the needs of potential students and the attributes of those most likely to enroll and complete their education.

Sextant also provides retention services as well as expertise in areas such as video marketing that are critical in influencing the “feel” a student gets about a school.

Sextant’s work has led to dramatic results for clients. For example, Fresno Pacific University in California experienced an 82% increase in organic traffic to the school’s website and a revenue increase 11.3% higher than the 2020 budget.

In another example, a personalized video campaign for St. Francis College in New York City featured powerful videos sent to new prospects and accepted students that connect their future aspirations with what St. Francis College and New York City offer. The school experienced a 30% increase year-over-year in deposits and enrollments.

Universities Partner with Sextant to Improve Their Process

Marian University also partners with Sextant to improve student recruitment processes. A small, private institution in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Marian has both a robust on-campus student population and a broad range of online degree and certificate programs. "As mentioned in the research, Marian has many of the challenges schools of our same size face including data in multiple systems that do not connect, different departments needing different data and not one place to find it, and no centralized expertise to gather, extract, and interpret the data," said Lisa Kidd, Assistant Vice President, Marketing and Communications.  "While we try to outsource as little as possible, a partner like Sextant helps us keep the number of partners we work with to a minimum as their expertise is so broad."

Sometimes, Sextant Marketing works as a partner to help 'fill in the gaps.'  "We recently completed a project to automatically populate our student contact system with new leads for our admissions team to work," said Kidd.  "Prior to this project, the team had to hand key in every lead."

Creating a Successful SEM Plan

Sextant begins its work with all clients by first understanding what they want out of their SEM plan and then researching how data analytics, digital recruitment and personalization can help them reach their goals.

Walbrun called this a “flipped funnel approach.” This requires working with clients during their budgeting process to understand their enrollment goals.

“Once we know how many students they are looking to obtain, we work backward to develop the media budget,” she said. “It is an open dialogue to determine if their enrollment goals are possible based on both market conditions and the money they can spend in areas such as advertising, link building and organic marketing.”

Sextant offers colleges and universities expertise through the entire enrollment cycle. This ranges from lead generation to Sextant’s contact center working with prospective students on application submissions.

“Some institutions use us as consultants to identify areas of concern and provide a plan. Others outsource their entire enrollment process to us knowing their expertise is elsewhere,” Walbrun said. “Whatever the case, we are keenly able to work with clients to identify processes that need improvement and provide solutions.”

thoughtful higher education call center professional

A Personalized, Relational Approach to Higher Education Call Center Services


thoughtful higher education call center professional

Sextant Marketing offers more than your average higher education call center, focusing on engaging students on their terms, building relationships, advising, and treating students with understanding and respect as they make a life-changing decision.

Everything we do points to the fact that not all call centers are created equally. As with every phase of enrollment management services, we have reimagined what can be done with a call center and created a better way to engage modern students.

“We’re helping students make a choice that will be one of the top three financial decisions of their lives,” said Matthew Speer, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner for Sextant Marketing. “We work hard to personalize the experience, communicate with students where they are, and understand all aspects of the student journey.”

Not All Higher Education Call Centers Are the Same

Jimmy Lynch, Vice President of Engagement Services for Sextant Marketing, says that choosing the right kind of call center as a partner is a critical decision for colleges and universities.

“Nothing less than the reputation of your institution and your brand is on the line every time an engagement campaign is executed on your behalf by a vendor,” says Jimmy. “While I am not advocating that you go with the most expensive, I would advocate that if you are considering a low cost vendor you fully weigh the potential impact on the quality of services you may receive.”

Jimmy points out that academic institutions should carefully consider all options, performing their due diligence that includes reviewing the company’s strategy and raw materials and listening to some of their phone calls with prospective students.

With a partner like Sextant Marketing, colleges and universities can look at prospective students as more than mere numbers on an enrollment data report. Together we see prospective students as people trying to make one of the most important decisions they will ever make about their future.

It’s a decision that will change someone’s life for the better, affecting their career, personal life, and financial goals. Sextant endeavors to treat that decision with the respect it deserves, taking steps to help students better understand the college application process and walk them through enrollment, registration, and beyond.

As part of our modern approach to enrollment management services, our call center focuses on supporting prospective students and building a relationship for the long term.

“They are not out buying a toaster, they are making a life changing decision,” says Jimmy. “The interactions and messaging must be designed to nurture and support and not appear as cold and transactional.”

Many prospective students make their decision based on how they feel about the school and the emotional relationship or bond they either have or anticipate. The quickest way to lose a prospective student is to give them an admissions process that lacks warmth, compassion, and understanding.

Building a Relationship with Prospective Students

The entire Sextant approach to providing higher education call center services builds upon being relational, not transactional, with students. Advisors focus on learning about the students' goals and aspirations and connecting them with the right degree program.

Sextant sees its role as consultative in nature. In many cases, students have are interested in a school, but are not yet ready to commit. They remain a viable and necessary part of the enrollment funnel for a university and should be treated as such.

A variety of situations can keep prospective students from entering a program. They may need to complete a specific exam, prerequisite course or earn a license (such as with nurses preparing to earn a BSN). According to Jimmy, “regardless of the reason, it is important to continue to foster that initial engagement and to continue to build on the relationship.”

Communicating with Students

Continuing contact with students, engaging with them across multiple modalities, is another focus that sets our higher ed. call center apart.  As Jimmy said, “We do not make phone calls for the sake of making phone calls.” Instead, Sextant uses a multi-faceted, omni-channel contact strategy uniquely designed to fit the needs of each client.

Sextant communicates with students through mail, email, phone, SMS, online chat, and social media. Through each of these channels we have the ability to focus on both initiating engagement and reinforcing a prospective student’s interest in the school and their chosen field. Through initial engagement, nurturing, and reengagement Sextant, adjusts the type and frequency of messages depending on each student's needs and preferences.

The Sextant Enhanced Student Services Difference

Case studies  show how our Enhanced Student Services approach offers a better return on investment. One such study involves Kentucky State University. The HBCU wanted to increase enrollment of traditional ground-based undergraduate students on its Frankfort campus. They wanted to do so while maintaining the school’s commitment to social responsibility, academic standards, and core values.

In other words, no shortcuts. Instead, they bought into the approach offered by Sextant Marketing. Together, Sextant and Kentucky State created a high-touch communication model that allowed Sextant advisors to serve as extensions of Kentucky State’s admissions office. They enhanced student support, built strong one-on-one relationships with students, revamped some of the school’s admissions material, and provided front-end support to several university offices, including student success, institutional research, and financial aid.

The process included 46,000 phone calls, 13,000 targeted emails, 4,728 pieces of direct mail and seven campus visits by 11 team members. The result: Kentucky State University experienced a 90.2% increase in fall first-time freshmen enrollments and a 170% increase in spring first-time freshman enrolments.

Those numbers are a testament to our approach to higher education call center and enrollment management services. It’s an atypical approach that leads to extraordinary results.

college application process

How Colleges Can Help Students Understand the College Application Process

college application process

A Changing Educational Landscape Requires New Approaches for Admissions and Enrollment  

With more than 4,000 degree-granting academic institutions in the country, colleges and universities face an abundance of competition in both capturing and retaining the attention of potential students.

Success in this area requires a change in traditional approaches, especially in supporting students through the application, admission, and enrollment processes. Engagement during the college application process and following stages is critical. It calls for a student-centric approach that meets them where they live, rather than waiting for them to come to you.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown this issue into stark relief. Colleges that rely heavily on traditional methods of reaching students, such as college fairs or campus visits, suddenly found these avenues no longer available.

It’s a situation that could adversely impact the financial viability of as many as 10% of all colleges, according to Inside Higher Education, which called for a “great enrollment and admissions reset” for academic institutions that want to compete in the coming decades.

College leaders who have adapted to the modern marketplace are in a better position to weather the current crisis and sustain success in the coming years. They understand that the role of an admissions office has changed.

Sextant Marketing specializes in improving student engagement. The full-service digital marketing agency and consultancy helps colleges and universities do a better job engaging, supporting and enlightening students.

“There’s a great deal of complexity in the services we offer that help academic institutions improve admissions and enrollment,” said Adrian Marrullier, founder and CEO of Sextant Marketing. “But all that work is built on the foundation of one important idea: engage students and provide them a positive experience.”

The Evolving Role of College Admissions Offices

One of the main drivers behind the need for change is the simple fact that students now have more options than ever for a college education. To compete in this environment, admissions offices need to become more proactive in offering college application assistance and making the application experience a positive one.

College admissions offices not only need to become more focused on the student experience, but also understand that the services they provide are extensions of the school’s brand identity. In other words, the actions of the admission’s office and student engagement in general must back up the promises made in marketing materials.

Accomplishing this goal requires an omni-channel approach to engagement with prospective students. As with all successful marketing campaigns, the goal is to reach students on their terms. This means developing outreach efforts on various channels, including texts, emails, phone calls and social media posts.

A successful admissions office must also act quickly when it comes to engagement. Today’s potential students live in a world with instantaneous communication. Fast responses are expected.

“Any successful admissions campaign begins with a well-defined omni-channel engagement strategy,” said Jimmy Lynch, Vice President of Engagement Services for Sextant Marketing. “A strategy that provides reinforcement in their choice of your school, their chosen field of study, and allows you to meet the applicants using the modalities of their choosing, all while effectively moving them through the enrollment funnel and admissions process.”

How Sextant’s Approach to the College Application Process Works for Colleges and Universities

Sextant is built to provide colleges and universities the strategic ideas, tools, and techniques they need to engage prospective students in the modern educational environment. Kentucky State University is an excellent example of this work in action.

The historically black college or university (HBCU) accredited school came to Sextant with a challenge: they wanted to increase ground-based undergraduate enrollment while maintaining the school’s core values of high academic standards and social responsibility.

In one year of working with Sextant, Kentucky State University increased year-over-year spring freshmen enrollment by 170% and year-over-year fall enrollment by 90.2%.

Sextant accomplished this goal by working with Kentucky State University to develop a high-touch communication model through which advisors served as an extension of the school’s admission’s office. This included developing one-on-one relationships with students that enhance student support, updating admissions material, and providing support to the university’s offices of financial aid, institutional research, and student success.

Replacing Costly and Inefficient Older Marketing Models

Traditional marketing models often prove too costly and inefficient in meeting a college’s goals. Sextant’s leaders help schools develop a defined engagement strategy that reinforces the school, the chosen degree, the college application process, the financial aid process, and other key components of the application process.

The company’s business model is built around a team of rapid-response experts and strategists who provide schools the resources they need to meet goals on demand. The Sextant full-service enrollment and advising call center can take students from their initial inquiry all the way through their first day of class.

This type of engagement and multi-channel approach is missing for some schools. In its article that looked at college and university admissions and enrollment, Inside Higher Education wrote that the issue would persist long after the coronavirus crisis ends.

“We need to address the Class of 2021 and beyond with equal urgency and figure out how to connect not only with today’s rising seniors but also with their younger siblings,” the educational website notes.

Today’s students grew up with technology and are often far more comfortable engaging via text, email, and social media channels. Sextant adopts that approach to work with students, partner with parents, and collaborate with university faculty and staff. This includes services such as an application portal that allows students to quickly find out where they are in the process, including the ability to track what they have submitted, find out what is still outstanding, and quickly assess what decisions remain to be made.

It's this type of innovation and an omni-channel approach that allows Sextant to support its university partners in creating more positive and successful application, admission, and enrollment processes.

Mental Health for College Students. Breaking the Taboo

College Students and Mental Health: Breaking the Taboo

Mental Health for College Students. Breaking the Taboo

Emerging adulthood is a time when the world stretches before us. Like gazing up at the clear night sky, it is at once thrilling and vaguely frightening. Where do we fit among the vast possibilities? With the newfound autonomy of young adulthood comes the fading of support structures we’d once known. Faced with the task of defining ourselves as adults, we feel “in-between.” The role of parents in our lives diminishes with no set support structure taking its place. With that there is uncertainty, exploration, and confusion.

Emergence in any form is inherently fragile. We are vulnerable to the stress brought about by transition. There is arguably no greater transition, after birth and death, than emerging as adults. For many, college is the vehicle propelling our journey into adulthood.

In light of this, and reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, redoubling efforts to discuss, understand, and treat mental health among college students has never been more important.

Stress and Mental Health in Young Adults

Stress is an integral part of the human condition. Without stress you or I wouldn’t be here. It is an evolutionary adaptation; a defensive mechanism that has kept us alive through the dangers of an emerging species. It comes, however, with tradeoffs.

Modern life is often maladaptive to a psychology evolved for the world in which our species grew up. It can be especially maladaptive for individuals growing into modern adulthood, a time of inherent vulnerability combined with the oncoming pressures of college life.

According to a paper published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, citing a survey by the World Health Organization, one-third of all college freshmen report having had mental health issues in the years leading to college. The college years, write the authors, are the “peak period for onset of many common mental disorders, particularly mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders.”

An article in Best Colleges lists the 5 top mental health challenges facing young adults entering college. They include depression, anxiety, addiction and substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide ideation (thoughts, planning, or actual attempts of suicide).

Increasing Awareness of a Growing Crisis

A 2018 article in Higher Education Today reports on the “worsening” mental health crisis in U.S. colleges and universities. Campus counseling centers across the country are experiencing “increased, unmet demand,” write authors Hollie Chessman and Morgan Taylor.

Citing national assessment data, Chessman and Taylor show “rising levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among the college population.”

An American Council on Education survey, also cited by Chessman and Taylor, shows that eight in ten college presidents consider student mental health as a greater priority over the past three years (since 2018).

One president wrote that “mental health has become a major issue for retention and the general well-being of our students . . . this is in my top three areas of improvement for my college.”

What factors will lead to this improvement?

Resilience - Helping College Students Cope

We all have a psychological baseline. but our emotions are never static, nor is the environment or physiology that drives them. We deviate from our baseline. The ability to bounce back from stress to a normative emotional state determines our resilience to adversity.

“Substantial transition and change often include a loss of internal baseline support. Loss of support creates disequilibrium,” concludes Joel Hathaway in Why College Students Experience Crisis: Identity Challenges Arising from Loss of Baseline Support.

“Part of the solution” writes Marvin Krislov in Forbes, “is working to develop resilience among our incoming college students.”

Krislov emphasizes three suggestions from the American Psychological Association that can help students build their resilience:

  • Have a strong support network: Having a network of friends, parents, mentors, and counselors who will listen to a student’s issues helps them maintain a resilient outlook on whatever those issues may be. It can also help identify warning signs and at-risk behaviors.
  • Focus on reaching goals in small steps: College is overwhelming. Learning early on how to break up goals and expectations into small, more easily accomplished tasks helps to maintain a sense of control and progress.
  • Build self-confidence: By utilizing the first two steps, students will gain confidence in their ability to bounce back from challenging situations. Each small step builds resilience.

All these steps, maintaining supportive relationships, managing goals effectively, and building healthy self-confidence, are a product of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence, Resilience, and the Sane Student

A paper published in Frontiers in Education describes a resilient person for whom “positive outcomes occur despite challenges they face.” A key ingredient to this positive outlook, the paper argues, is emotional intelligence.

According to authors Christopher Thomas and Staci Zolkoski, emotional intelligence “consists of a constellation of abilities allowing individuals to process and use emotional-laden information in a manner that facilitates effective problem-solving.”

Christopher Ruel, writing in Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Students, explains the hallmarks of this “constellation of abilities” as:

  • Recognizing and effectively managing one’s emotions
  • Leveraging emotions to solve real-world problems
  • Communicating effectively in emotionally charged situations
  • Making good decisions
  • Building effective relationships
  • Managing stress

Like cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence is a means for understanding ourselves and the world around us. That understanding leads to effective problem-solving and generally positive outcomes.

“A review of the literature,” write Thomas and Zolkoski, “highlights that learners with higher levels of emotional intelligence often experience increased psychological well-being, persistence, and retention.”

When knocked off our baseline, emotional intelligence and resilience help us land on our feet. For young undergrads, landing on their feet is made that much more difficult when the ground beneath them is unfamiliar. They often need support to help them find that ground.

College and the Sane Student: Supporting Mental Health for College Students

In its broadest perspective, the most effective way of supporting student mental health is removing the taboo that can shroud students in isolation and emotional distress. This starts on day one.

Individual empathy and compassion are key elements for identifying students struggling to cope with their new situation. Trudi Kessler, Sextant Marketing’s Associate Vice President, Student Success & Retention, emphasizes the point by example through her many years of working with students one-on-one.

“Whenever I encountered a student who I felt may be at risk, I would personally walk them over to Villanova’s mental health counseling office,” Kessler says of her work at Villanova University as Assistant Dean in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

In all circumstances, going “above and beyond” at an individual level is critical for student well-being and identifying those at risk, Kessler says. That extends to online students as well, particularly considering the COVID-19 health crisis.

Dr. Kessler’s role at Sextant builds on her experience working one-on-one with students, extending to non-traditional students facing a multitude of challenges and responsibilities. Counseling incoming and enrolled students at Houston Baptist University’s BSN program, Dr. Kessler works predominantly with women “who have kids, families, and aging parents,” she says. “Many are going through major life changes or are in the military.”

While also balancing careers as RNs, the state of Texas Mandates these working professionals earn a BSN to continue their work as nurses. That’s a lot of stress. “The conversations with this particular group tend to be deeper in nature because of where they are in life,” Kessler says.

Oriented Toward Ongoing Mental Health

“Colleges provide orientation sessions on drug and alcohol use, sexual violence prevention, and other student health and lifestyle topics, so why not address mental health more directly?,” asks Amy Eva in the article How Colleges Today Are Supporting Student Mental Health.

Eva suggests a range of approaches, including panel discussions, videos, small group discussions, and student testimonials. Making these sessions relatable is important, Eva explains. Using a storytelling approach provides students an open space to discuss and relate their own feelings with their fellow students.

Integrating mental health awareness, dialog, tools, and support throughout student’s enrollment carries forward the opportunities of orientation.

Every institution will implement a plan according to their needs, ability, and circumstance. Any plan can include the following:

Free mental health screenings:

From on-campus kiosks to online self-testing and assessments, these free, anonymous tools and resources help keep students connected to their emotional well-being. These services are also useful for encouraging students to seek further help.

Programs and initiatives:

Worldhealth.net reports that access to on-campus classes and online resources teaching meditation, breathing exercises, and other stress management techniques are effective resilience-building tools.

Identify at-risk students:

Mental health services:

Examples of support and services colleges can provide include:

    • JED Campus, offers, among its many services, an action planning guide for college administrators. With more than 450 campus chapters, the mental health advocacy group promotes comprehensive evidence-based mental health and suicide prevention programs.
    • Active Minds brings mental health awareness and dialog out into the open, with measurable positive results.
    • Kognito is an online simulation program used by more than 350 colleges to help students learn and talk about mental health issues with friends who are suffering from emotional distress.

Happy Days? Breaking the Taboo of Mental Health

It is tempting to look upon our high school and college years through the soft golden haze of Happy Days nostalgia. After all, our traditional college years are the best times of our lives. Or so the saying goes.

Indeed, for many young women and men, college is a rite of passage. A time of becoming. We chart our path, engage our intellect, forge great loves, and launch lifelong friendships. Our traditional college years are viewed fondly as a time of flourishing, learning, and connection. We assume our roles as adults in the broad scope of human endeavor.

College can be all these things for young students, but we can’t ignore the other side of the story. There is a quiet epidemic that over the years has grown in silence.

For psychologists the word “abnormal” is an objective term, a deviation from an observed nominal state. For most of us we understand it in a more subjective, qualitative manner. Something of which we dare not speak. Who wants to be considered abnormal?

In an inherently vulnerable circumstance, susceptible to mental health issues, students too easily become overwhelmed, isolated, and convinced of their “abnormality.” And thus, we too often allow the segment of society most susceptible to mental health disorders to struggle. Even as they navigate what is likely the most significant, life-altering transition they’ve yet experienced.

The urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic brings into focus the ongoing mental health challenge on college campuses. Hopefully, this urgency will translate to better outcomes and break the taboo where it still exists.

targeting enrollment leads on linkedin

Targeting Enrollment Leads on LinkedIn

targeting enrollment leads on linkedin

With Facebook and TikTok always on the news, we hope you haven’t forgotten about LinkedIn. As higher education marketers, we love the employment-oriented online platform. That’s because we’ve seen tremendous success in generating student leads via LinkedIn for most of our higher-ed clients. Check out our recipe for success when targeting enrollment leads on LinkedIn.

Let us start with the facts. According to LinkedIn:

  • You can reach more than 675 million members on LinkedIn - in 200 countries and regions worldwide.
  • LinkedIn members are 2x more intent-driven and 7x more receptive to ads.
  • (Saving the best for last here!) In 2019, LinkedIn drove 8M+ leads and 120k undergraduate and graduate enrollments for US schools.

So how can you use LinkedIn to target your student enrollment leads? What forms of LinkedIn advertising should you use to target potential students and/or parents?

Let’s discuss the two most popular forms of LinkedIn advertising and how you can use them to your school’s advantage.

1.     Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content are native ads you can run in the LinkedIn feed and reach a targeted audience beyond your LinkedIn page followers. It comes in different formats such as a single image ad, video ads, and carousel ads. Make sure you follow some of the best practices to run Sponsored Content to create effective ads that your potential students can engage with. Here are a few tips to get you started:

    • Use a compelling visual (1200X627 pixel)
    • Have 3-5 active sponsored content ads within one campaign to increase impressions and lower CPL
    • Shift budget to the audience with the highest engagement rate
    • For optimal engagement, keep the text accompanying your Sponsored Content under 150 characters.


2.     Sponsored Messaging

Previously known as “Sponsored InMails”, Sponsored Messaging is a type of LinkedIn advertising format that allows you to deliver targeted messages with a CTA that reaches your student's LinkedIn inbox. Sponsored Messaging is offered in two formats – Message Ads and Conversation Ads. Both formats can be used as an opportunity to share and promote events and webinars. They can fulfill your objective of brand awareness, event/webinar registrations, lead generation, and program enrollments. Some key tips to get started with Sponsored Messaging on LinkedIn:

    • Keep copy less than 1000 characters
    • Use a clear call-to-action with a 300X250 pixel banner
    • Use first name personalization
    • Bid competitively, especially if your audience is narrow

Which advertising format should you choose?

According to LinkedIn, customers who use multiple LinkedIn ad formats see improved performance. Warming your audience with Sponsored Content before sending InMails results in higher engagement. When Sponsored Content and Sponsored Messaging are launched together for the same marketing campaign, advertisers have seen a 43% lift in CTR and a 40% increase in engagement. Hence, we recommend utilizing a multi-product strategy and using both formats to target the same audience.

How do LinkedIn Ads generate leads for higher education?

You might be wondering how these two LinkedIn advertising formats (and/or other advertising formats) that LinkedIn offers will help drive student leads for your university. We’ll let you in on the secret of lead generation inside LinkedIn – Lead Generation Forms. Yes, a form within LinkedIn! Think of this as the RFI form for your website. You can replicate your website’s RFI form, build it inside LinkedIn, and make it easy-peasy for prospective students to leave their details.

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms are pre-filled with accurate LinkedIn profile data, letting students send you their info in just a couple of clicks. This helps increase your lead conversion rates and improve your overall ROI. Your leads can be easily accessed within the LinkedIn Ads Manager platform and can also be integrated with your marketing automation platform or CRM tool.

Bonus tip – Retargeting!

As with most media platforms, LinkedIn offers retargeting as well. With the help of LinkedIn Insight Tag, you can create retargeting campaigns and get in front of students who’ve already visited your website. Recently, LinkedIn launched a feature that lets you retarget people who’ve engaged with your lead forms. That means you can get in front of people who have opened your lead form but did not submit.

Analyze Your LinkedIn Campaign Performance.

We are against the “launch it and leave it” attitude when it comes to any form of media. With a wide variety of options for ad formats and campaign objectives, we recommend testing, testing, and testing! And, of course, learning from your tests.

You can create an effective A/B testing strategy for your LinkedIn Ads by changing one variable at a time to see if it increases your KPIs. Running A/B tests will help you understand what your audiences best respond to. Always carve time out to analyze your campaign performance and optimize accordingly to reach prospective students at the right time.

LinkedIn Ads vs Facebook Ads

According to Statista, Facebook has over 2.7 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2020. This makes Facebook the biggest social network worldwide, leaving higher education digital marketers wondering if Facebook is better suited for their business compared to LinkedIn.

While there is no straightforward answer to which platform is better than the other, LinkedIn has certain advantages when it comes to higher education. LinkedIn allows you to target your audience based on exactly who they are professionally: job titles, job function, industry, company name, education level, and even past schools they have attended. This makes LinkedIn better suited for professional working adults, degree completers, and graduate degree and certificate seekers.

With detailed targeting and higher quality leads, LinkedIn ads do generally cost more than Facebook ads. Hence, you will see higher CPC and CPL on LinkedIn because your leads could potentially be worth more.

Below is lead-to-enrollment data for one of our clients who has invested in both social platforms. We see a 34% contract rate, a 5.1% lead-to-application (LTA) rate, and a 0.7% lead-to-enrollment (LTE) rate on LinkedIn. Facebook has a 25.65% contact rate, a 2.17% LTA rate, and 0.32% LTE rate.


Organic 64.96% 46.67% 15.39%
Google Ads 33.94% 9.33% 3.13%
Microsoft Bing 30.77% 15.38% 3.85%
LinkedIn 33.81% 5.09% 0.67%
Facebook 25.65% 2.17% 0.32%


Naturally, we see higher conversion metrics from organic and PPC sources compared to social channels. However, it is important to remember that each phase of marketing funnel and each platform plays a distinct role in delivering results.

Measure Your Results

Measuring the success from upper-funnel advertising is a well-known challenge for all marketers. We recommend utilizing Google Analytics Attribution reports to better understand how different advertising efforts work together to create conversions. By looking at the conversion paths for this client, we have noticed social, particularly LinkedIn, is an effective channel for assisting conversions. This is why it is crucial to implement a full-funnel digital marketing strategy that will help your institution achieve the strongest results.

Regardless of which channels your leads come from, it is important for your marketing team to work closely with your admissions office to pave a path for lead-nurturing. Let your admissions team know that leads from social channels might not convert as quickly as leads from PPC or organic sources. It helps to create a nurturing environment that is personalized to each student to nudge them from prospective to enrolled student.

As a Sharpspring Silver Certified Partner, Sextant gives colleges and universities the benefits of an automated platform that not only improves lead generation but also helps nurture leads to push them down the funnel of enrollment. Remember that your admissions team is a major player in your overall marketing strategy for your institution. Help them create a personalized communications plan to connect with potential students.

We think it’s safe to assume that this article got you thinking about advertising on LinkedIn. At Sextant Marketing, we’re here to help with that. Contact us to learn how you can utilize LinkedIn to target your enrollment leads and more. And while you’re at it, follow us on LinkedIn!




increase student enrollment

SEO Strategies That Increase Student Enrollment


increase student enrollment

So, you offer an MBA degree. Guess what? There are over 1000 accredited MBA programs in the United States and over 2,500 in the world. That’s a lot of competition. As with any other purchase, the road to higher education for a student starts with a search!

No matter where you rank in the U.S. News & World Report or any other college ranking list, where you land in the search results will affect how students perceive your rank. If you’re not in the top results, you won’t be seen as top-ranking. So, when your prospective students are searching for a program that you offer, how can you make yourself visible online in a cost-effective manner?

*Drum roll, please! * Let us introduce you to S-E-O!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Moz defines it perfectly as, “The practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results.” Organic search results refer to the listings on Search Engine Page Results (SERPs) that appear for relevant search terms and are placed below paid ads. If your website is not search engine friendly, it may not be listed in the first few pages of organic search results. That means it is less likely to be clicked on by potential students or parents while they’re searching for a program.

Our research at Sextant Marketing shows that more than 50% of higher education traffic comes from organic sources. Student inquiries produced via organic sources typically convert to enrolled students at a higher rate than other digital marketing methods, such as Paid Search, Social Advertising, Email Campaigns, and similar. Hence, an effective SEO strategy is important for higher education to drive the right traffic to the website and increase online leads and inquiries that ultimately turn into enrollments.


How to use SEO to Increase Enrollment for Colleges and Universities

How can you increase student enrollment with SEO? What are some of the best SEO strategies for higher education and how can SEO influence organic traffic? Let’s discuss some practical tips that will increase traffic and enrollment for your college or university.

1. Keyword Strategy

Keyword strategy is an important step in content development for your website and is an essential part of your overall SEO strategy. Extensive keyword research will help you understand user intent and identify the search terms potential students are using. Your SEO strategy should revolve around answering questions that your students may have or providing the best possible solution for the “problem” they are trying to solve. Hence, while developing your page content, you need to make sure it answers the question or solves the problem of the potential students.

Outside of your on-page content, you also need to make sure you’re using enticing page titles and meta descriptions that include your focus keywords. This will increase the likelihood of clicks on search engines for your website.

Bonus Tip – Remember to use geo-targeted keywords. Many students are likely to search for degrees and programs in a specific city or region. Hence, it is crucial to utilize geo-targeted keywords during content development.

2. Content Marketing

Your editorial content should reflect your keyword research. By using the keyword and phrases your potential students are using, you can create strong, informative, and compelling content that serves a purpose for prospective students. Program pages should be optimized for search engines and should also provide a positive user experience to students.

An effective content strategy should also include regular publication of blog articles that provide informational content to potential students or parents. Consistently publishing new, content tells Google your site is relevant and keeps Google crawling and indexing content and pages on your site. This means any new pages you publish, such as new program pages, will be crawled and indexed sooner.

3.Local Search

When it comes to higher education, most of your business (new and returning) will come from local students. This is even more true today due to the coronavirus outbreak. That means a good strategy for reaching students is to start closest to home and create hyper local content for the city you’re located in. Provide consistent information on social media sites, online directories, and services like Google My Business to strengthen your university’s local reach. By implementing a local SEO strategy, you can make sure you are increasing your online visibility for local searches and influencing your enrollment numbers.

*** Fun Fact: According to Internet Live Stats, the volume of Google searches grows roughly 10% every year. Google now processes over 3.5 billion searches per day (yes, that’s a LOT!).

4. Backlinks AKA Upvotes to Your Website

Backlinks also called ‘inbound links’ or ‘incoming links,’ are created when one website links to another. The link to your website from an external website is called a backlink. Google and other major search engines consider backlinks as “upvotes” for a specific page. The site’s quality and authority are largely determined by the quality of the sites linking to it.

Implementation of an effective backlink strategy will help boost your search engine rankings. Despite being an important factor, link building remains one of the hardest and most time-consuming elements of SEO. But, hey, that’s what we are here for! Contact us to learn how we can take the burden of link building from you and help you create and implement a backlink strategy that works.

5. Social Signals

Take your phone out and start using your audience's favorite social media site to your advantage. Social signals, a web page’s collective shares, likes, and overall social media presence and visibility, contribute to the page’s organic search results. Search engines often see social signals as an upvote to the page and the domain as well, just like backlinks. If your university has a strong social presence, you're likely to have higher conversion rates leading to more sales and more word-of-mouth referrals. To increase your website’s social signals, we recommend:

  • Utilizing a social media calendar to post regularly and easily monitor overall keywords associated with your brand.
  • Implement onsite elements like the social share buttons for news and blog posts.
  • Use Open Graph Protocol to control how your pages appear on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. which can help improve traffic, brand reputation, and search engine rankings.

 6. Make That Traffic Count! 

After you bring your prospective students or parents to your website, you don’t want them to leave without taking action. Make all your incoming traffic count! Your site must be optimized for lead generation by creating an opportunity for potential student inquiries. Integrating RFI (Request for Information) forms prominently on important pages makes it easier for users to engage with your site and convert, ultimately leading to increased applications and enrollments. Newsletter signups, resource articles, and blog recommendations, etc. will help re-engage users and keep them on your site for longer, ultimately helping your conversion numbers.

7. Audit and Optimize Your Website

Let’s get technical – performing regular SEO audits will give you a comprehensive analysis of your website and elements that could be negatively impacting your search engine rankings and your overall SEO strategy. The goal of the audit is to assess the technical health of your website. It is also an opportunity to check the security, speed, and mobile-friendly aspects of your site.

The importance of mobile responsiveness has increased due to Google’s mobile-first index and is likely going to make a greater impact on search result rankings in the near future.

  • Check how easily a student can use your website on mobile by using Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool.
  • Optimize your site speed through techniques like using smaller image sizes and hosting your site on fast servers.
  • Check your site speed by using Google’s Page Speed Insight.

8. Data, Data, Data (and Data!)

We are data lovers at Sextant Marketing, and so we didn’t want to miss out on this point. SEO takes a lot of time and effort, so we recommend measuring and analyzing results regularly. Keeping track of KPIs and important organic metrics will help measure the success of your SEO strategy.

With all that said, we cannot stress enough how much we agree with whoever said "SEO is a marathon, not a sprint!" Warning: Expecting SEO results immediately might lead to disappointment. But with consistent effort backed by good research and data, SEO will be by-far the most cost-effective way to get in front of potential students or parents. Are you ready to make your higher-ed website more search engine friendly and increase your student enrollment organically? Learn more about our approach and let us help you understand how you can increase online leads and inquiries from your website.

Video for higher education marketing

Why You Should be Using Video Marketing for Higher Education

Video for higher education marketing

Video marketing has become increasingly pervasive and persuasive in just about every industry. Driven by the conjunctional forces of advancing technology and shifting consumer behavior, video has the power to compellingly communicate vast amounts of information in a minimum amount of time.

This is especially important in the increasingly competitive Higher Education space where much of the marketing and recruiting messaging and collateral has become productized, commoditized, and standardized. On paper (literally) via direct mail, viewbooks, billboards, and other printed or static electronic marketing, including banner ads, text reads, emails, and even websites, it is hard to tell the difference between many schools.

Often, the ultimate differentiator between college choices is how a potential student “feels” about a school, especially when they visit campus. But now, (and it still remains to be seen for how long) students are forgoing campus visits, and video provides an opportunity to accurately capture an institution’s ethos and “feel” that is difficult to do any other way. The story, soundtrack, visuals, voiceover, pacing, and production quality all combine to create a connection and emotional response.

And this is where the power and importance of video as the ultimate storytelling medium comes in.

Connect Through Story and Emotion

Done with intentionality and consistency, video storytelling can distinguish schools in a way few static campaigns can – emotionally. Emotion is generated by personal experience. The richer and more personal the experience, the deeper the associated emotional response.

Very few direct mail pieces move readers to tears or give them the chills. A traditional email or direct mail campaign can be on-message and on-brand in every way and yet fail to create a connection or evoke an emotional response.

The Story Hasn’t Changed – But How You Need to Tell it Has

As our lives move more and more online, and the line between reality and virtual reality becomes harder to define, consumers will follow the path of least resistance to brands that provide instant access to highly relevant content. Big (and little) data will drive the creation of increasingly personalized experiences, but having the data is not enough for large and complex purchase decisions that take place over long periods of time. Incorporating that data to deliver compelling content in a personally meaningful and memorable way will separate the brands and institutions that survive and thrive…and those that don’t.

It’s video or vanish for companies attempting to lure Gen Z consumers as Cisco estimates that video will account for 82% of internet traffic globally by 2022, up from 75% in 2017, and that live video will grow 15-fold over that time to account for 17% of Internet video traffic by 2022, with half of all video traffic viewed on mobile.

Video, with its multi-dimensionality, is the medium most like “real-life,” and often better than real-life from a storytelling perspective. Video allows a story to be perfectly crafted and consistently delivered for optimal impact every time. Messaging, visuals, voice, and music combine to bring a narrative to life and create an experience greater than the sum of the parts capable of connecting on a very personal, emotional level. Here’s what we did for the St. Francis College new admit and new prospect campaigns.



Virtual Campus Visits

Personal emotion is where the opportunity for many schools to create a connection with prospective students will be won or lost. While there are many important factors that go into the college decision process, the intangible feeling of “this is the place” is at the top.

More and more prospects will be researching and “visiting” schools virtually to develop or shorten their list of potential schools and video will play a major role in shaping prospects’ initial perception of each institution.

Schools will be judged not just by their story, but by how well they tell their story to today’s audiences.

Developing a Video Marketing Strategy

For many schools, the problem is not a lack of video content. With high-quality, relatively inexpensive cameras, drones, and smartphones, creating a volume of content is not the issue. The roadblock to great video marketing is the lack of a centralized strategy that defines and organizes video that elevates the narrative.

Schools benefit when they think about video strategy and production in a comprehensive and coordinated way that elevates their brand and is delivered consistently across a broad spectrum of delivery channels, purposes, and audiences. Videos should be:

  1. Highly produced,
  2. Contain personalized content,
  3. And user-generated content

Comprehensive video strategy and assets are built from a central story, narrative, and theme—a model built with distribution in mind.

Now you can cascade the story in meaningful and efficient ways to a variety of audiences across a number of video formats (short-form, long-form, personalized, non-personalized, etc.) via different delivery modalities (direct mail, brochures, viewbooks, flyers, posters, signage, email, text, ads, social, etc.).

Video Marketing for Student Recruitment

The most robust path for video marketing is the student recruitment funnel, where we can infuse video throughout the whole process starting with new search outreach marketing via short video trailers to increase initial interest. A “watch your story unfold” concept leads to more longer-form and personalized video experiences delivered at strategic moments. At the same time, your school website and social accounts are saturated with relevant and reinforcing video.

Start by creating a strong central story and identifying the area(s) of greatest need such as:

  1. New Student Search Campaigns
  2. Applicant Communications
  3. Parent Messaging
  4. Financial Aid
  5. Admissions & Enrollment
  6. Welcome to Campus
  7. Commencement
  8. Alumni Office
  9. Development & Fundraising Campaigns

The Importance of User-generated Content

Along with highly produced video content, it is also important to include User-Generated Content (UGC) in your video marketing strategy. The power of UGC is becoming increasingly apparent as Gen-Z prospects seek out “authentic” content through social channels, including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube. This content can also be leveraged across your university marketing initiatives to provide a “real-feel” student perspective to complement more highly produced content.

Creating Personal Connections Virtually

Creating personal connections virtually is suddenly more important than ever. When prospective students can’t come to campus, schools need to go beyond brochures and virtual tours. This is how to connect with individual prospects on an emotional level – one that shares what it feels like to be on campus and part of their unique community.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, “virtual reality” has taken a whole new meaning as we all find ways to work and create and maintain connections at a distance. As we adjust to our collective new normal, schools are anxious to refocus on two of the most affected groups - prospective students and upcoming graduates – whose worlds have been turned upside down and who are unable to come to campus at two of the meaningful points in their lives. Nothing can replace being there, but Sextant can help you leverage your existing video assets to create powerful personalized videos that connect on an emotional level and share what it feels like to be on campus and part of your unique community – whether visiting to make a final enrollment decision or walking to receive a diploma.

The future is here now.

The trends are clear, and the tools are available.

Storytelling is more important than ever.

Connecting virtually is critical.

Personalized experiences are paramount.

Video is the medium of the moment and the foreseeable future.

The ability to deliver compelling content in personally meaningful and memorable ways will separate the brands/institutions that survive and thrive from those that don’t.

You will be judged...by your video.