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Higher Education Inbound Marketing Techniques to Target Millennials

Posted by Rachael Gamlin on Jan 23, 2015 9:19:33 AM

Let me set the scene for you. It's 7 a.m on the second day of my winter break and I'm cozied up in my warm bed, refusing to relinquish the blankets and trade them in for the cold (my parents always forget to turn the heat back on during the day when the kids are home. Such empty-nesters). 

Millenial_blog_mainThat's when I hear it, the home phone ringing right outside my bedroom.

You know when you hear a noise in your sleep, like an alarm, and it feels like it's going on forever but it's really only been ringing for 3 seconds? Yeah. So I begrudgingly leave my cacoon because, ya know, it could be an emergency like my little brother hitting a parked car or something (true story).

This is what I hear:

"HI! I'm with ______ and I would love to talk to you about our new home security system product!" 

I quickly hung up the phone and crawled back into bed thinking about how much I resent outbound marketing tactics. And it isn't just me, I promise.

Although my fellow Millennials may not know the technical name, they despise outbound marketing just as much as I do. We're the generation that grew up listening to our parents complain about telemarketers and deleting any generic product emails. 

That's why it is crucial to steer far away from outdated techniques, like relying on brand loyalty or outbound marketing practices, for any company that targets products to Generation Y. This applies especially to those in higher ed using enrollment management techniques to grab students' attention. Sending boring letters to high school students' houses will only make those future college attendees roll their eyes. Side note: if you send them a letter per week, they are guaranteed to joke about your desperation. 

So what should you do if you can't send a deluge of cookie-cutter emails or mail pamphlets with fake-laughing students on the cover? Start employing higher education inbound marketing tactics. 

One of the most important ways to do this is through social media. By now, it's no secret young adults spend an abnormally high amount of their day scrolling through feeds. This is the ultimate treasure trove for higher education institutions. You couldn't ask for a more direct way to influence students. And that's what inbound marketing is all about - enticing potential customers with something they need or are interested in so they come to you. 

However, one of the pitfalls of many marketers is they lump Millennials into a couple of limited categories based on preconceptions. In his talk during Advertising Week, the vice president of insight services at Exponential Interactive, Bryan Melmed, discussed how his data has allowed the company to come up with "4 million poster children" for Millennials. Of that number, they were able to distinguish 12 groups that accurately represented the different characteristics and personalities of Gen Y. 

That's a lot of variety, but if you cater to it, the results could be exponentially better than the ones you've previously been seeing. It starts off by doing your own research, especially with social media. Start looking at and analyzing the trends and personas of the students you are having difficulty attracting. Once you understand the variety of students you are trying to attract, you should begin targeting them with specific social media content. For example, one common group of Millennials are the "power women," young women who are interested in taking on leadership roles in their future careers and want to look put together and stylish while doing this. You could potentially target them by emphasizing a women's studies programs or spotlighting women at your university with similar tastes.

No matter what you do, just keep in mind Millennials have been exposed to social media and globalization since an early age, so their diversity is significant. If you can pinpoint different overall groups and interests of the young people you're targeting and then provide them with the kind of content they want to see, you'll be much more successful in your marketing strategies.

Want to learn more about adding Inbound Marketing to your school, college, or University communications and marketing mix? Download our free guide by clicking the blue button and completing the short form on the next page.

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photo credit: college.library via photopin cc

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