In higher education institutions, student personas serve as a substitute for buyer personas. To be more precise, student personas are fictionalized depictions of the ideal higher education students you want to enroll in your program. They serve as the basis for your enrollment marketing campaigns. Personas can help you better understand the objectives and requirements of your ideal candidates. Student personas often address the four fundamental questions of who, what, why, and how to accomplish this effectively.
Who would be your ideal pupil? What are their main objectives, difficulties, and requirements? Why do they consider these needs, complications, and goals important? What inspires them to act, in other words? How are these needs, problems, and goals being met? How is their research coming along? Personas can be used by colleges and universities in situations other than the conventional new-customer/student marketing ones. The success of enrolled students can be increased, and alum interaction can be made more accessible by using persona-based communications.
What is a Student Persona?
Based on a combination of factual information about your current students and market research, a higher education student persona represents the ideal student you want to enroll in. Your school may have various student personas, each with its own goals, problems, and preferred communication methods, depending on your area of specialization. You can divide the student population into pieces for programs of interest, region, or stage of a student’s career. These higher education student personas may be used to build segmented messaging for your ads, emails, social media campaigns, and more after they are created. Personas assist you in entering the mindset of your target demographics of prospective students so you can encourage them to enroll. Typical elements of a student persona include:
- An invented name
- A brief bio or summation of the persona
- Information on demographics
- A list of the objectives, drivers, and difficulties
- What resources inform and sway them
- Pertinent interview quotes
After conducting the necessary research and analysis for each component, as mentioned earlier, you can put it all together by drafting a formal document for internal usage. You should distribute this paper internally and include any updates suggested by significant stakeholders. Once the record is finished, your team can use it to guide their efforts and make further revisions as time goes on.
How are Student Personas Created?
Utilize the Data You Already Have
Information you can get from the data you already have at your disposal may surprise you. After all, the present students at your institution are excellent examples of individuals who effectively converted from leads to applicants and then to enrolled students. Use your databases to find tendencies among your present students to get things going. Do they frequently originate from particular geographic regions or feeder schools? Do they typically prefer full- or part-time study options? Which course delivery methods—on-site, online, or hybrid—do they usually favor? Utilizing the information you already have will allow you to focus more of your future research efforts on learning new things you were unaware of.
Conducting higher education student persona interviews will enable you to advance your research after analyzing your existing data. You can learn more about what matters to your students—instead of just what you think matters to them—by interviewing your current and former pupils. Interviewing someone who chose not to enroll in your institution can also be beneficial. Learning their reasons for going in a different direction can help you identify common concerns about your school or program and how you can address them in the future. Make sure you have a list of questions you want to ask before you sit down for an interview. You may ensure that you have covered all of your bases and maximize the meeting by doing this. Always remember to conduct yourself appropriately during interviews by being clear about your objectives for the discussion and arriving at the table prepared.
Engage Your Group
Many insights can be gained from within your own team and the source. Consider conducting interviews with admissions officers, for instance, to understand the student’s path from their perspective. The admissions team routinely engages with applicants, giving them a unique perspective on the concerns and difficulties that potential students may be experiencing. They may also assist you in identifying some of the most typical problems they run into so that you can address those issues in your content strategy. You can also consider speaking with the product or marketing managers for particular academic programs if appropriate.
These people will be well-versed in the program’s value proposition, which can assist you in comprehending why your program is the proper response to the requirements of your ideal applicant. Involving the larger team in your study can also receive support from internal stakeholders for your marketing initiatives. By taking into account their suggestions, you can aid them in comprehending the advantages of your marketing approach for the company. Even though it’s critical to ensure your student personas are correct, keep in mind that they should develop with time. The features of your audience will change over time, just like a person’s preferences and circumstances do. Because of this, marketers should regularly review their student personas and adjust them as needed.
Student Personas You May Be Overlooking
When you begin the research process, keep in mind that there will probably be a variety of higher education student personas for your university and the particular programs you are promoting. These personas may not need to be fully developed in your initial study, but it is crucial to be aware of them because you will probably want to go back and review them later.
It is helpful to have a persona outlining individuals who are not a suitable fit for your institution and building personas that describe the students you wish to attract through your marketing efforts. By having this information on hand, you may adjust your technique to attract your ideal prospective pupils while rejecting those that don’t fit the description. Someone may not fit into your perfect audience for various reasons, such as financial constraints or interest in a subject area your school does not offer. Considering the multiple justifications the admissions office might reject an application and explanations, a person might decide to take a different path to pinpoint these traits.
Particularly at the undergraduate level, parents frequently play a role in a student’s decision to attend college and which universities they apply to and enroll in. Making personas for parents and guardians might be helpful because they frequently have a significant influence on decision-making. Do they worry about paying for their student’s education? Are they thinking that by sending their students to their alma mater, they would leave a legacy as alumni? Do they care where your institution is physically located?
Alternative Student Personas
Higher education is constantly changing to meet the shifting demands of the labor market and other important considerations. The types of students who pursue more education at higher education institutions are changing due to these changes, and enrollment marketers need to be aware of these “non-traditional” students. Here of some of the most typical non-traditional students:
- Students in their second careers are obtaining more education to change careers.
- Learning parents who balance their intellectual pursuits with the difficulties of raising a family.
- Working professionals who balance full-time employment and education.
Identification and development of these personas can assist enrollment marketers in ensuring that they take these factors into account because each of these student kinds (and many others) is growing more prevalent and has its own particular needs.
How to Leverage Your Student Personas
Now that you are familiar with student personas and how to develop them, let’s examine their application in more detail. A key component of your school’s inbound marketing approach should include student personas. It’s challenging to create material that appeals to target applicants and meets their needs throughout their path from prospect to applicant to student without an authentic persona at the core of your campaign. Once you’ve created and verified your personas, you may share the finished product with actual figures in your organization for several different objectives. Designing and implementing your content strategy will be the most crucial application.
The Perfect Fit
You’ll probably develop fresh content ideas when investigating your student personas connected to their objectives, concerns, and difficulties. In fact, these concepts can frequently serve as the foundation for your upcoming campaign, including blog articles, offers for downloaded information, and lead nurturing emails.