How Marketing Automation Can Improve Enrollment and Help Higher Ed Attract Ideal Students

How Marketing Automation Can Improve Enrollment and Help Higher Ed Attract Ideal Students

higher education marketing automation
Higher education is a competitive space—most counselors recommend that students apply to between five and eight colleges, and many apply to more. I personally applied to 17 schools, and was admitted to enough of them that the decision was difficult.
If you’re at a higher education institution looking to improve enrollment and identify your ideal students, implementing marketing automation can help.
Delivering the right messages to the right students at the right time is key to improving your enrollment. There are a few different ways you can use marketing automation to achieve this kind of customization.

Interest-based targeting

What are students looking for at your school?
You offer a variety of different programs, and although a reasonable percentage of students enter college undecided or will change their major, some prospective students know what they want.
Put simply: if a prospective student is interested in engineering, you may not want to send them information about your history program.
Customizing your contact with students based on their stated interests can help you stay on their radar and keep them engaged.
Even undecided students have extracurricular interests. Collecting those interests in custom forms can help you follow up with information on relevant student organizations. Know a prospective student is interested in ultimate frisbee? Send them information about the club on campus—and notify the club when the student visits campus.

Behavior-based targeting

A prospective student who has been opening your emails suddenly goes cold. What happened?
If you haven’t been tracking engagement, it’s impossible to find out. You might never even realize that their behavior has changed.
Tracking how students engage with your emails and website can give you clues to their eventual decisions. It can also help you tailor your follow-up.
If an prospective student stops interacting with you messages, automatically triggering a re-engagement campaign can help you regain their attention.
Even if they ultimately don’t enroll, monitoring their engagement can help you collect valuable information. Perhaps they’ve chosen a rival institution based on cost or the specifics of its program—a re-engagement campaign can help you gather those insights.
On the flip side, monitoring engagement can also help you identify students who are highly interested—and deliver more content that interests them.
Does a prospective student frequently check for upcoming sport events? Do they check the events of a particular department? Make their life easier by sending them the information they want without them having to hunt it down.


As prospective students behave more and more like customers, personalizing your messaging can have a major impact on their impressions of your institution.
Targeting students based on their interests and behavior will already give you a leg up when it comes to personalizing your communications, but look for other ways to use the information you collect to improve your messaging and engagement.
Are you hosting an event for prospective students in a particular city? Site tracking can help you notify students in the area—even if they happen to be traveling at the time.
Do you have an ideal student in mind? Combining lead scoring with information about their GPA, test scores, extracurricular interests, and engagement with your messaging can help you identify which students are likely to be the best fit for your institution.


Marketing automation can help higher education institutions attract and enroll students more effectively. In a competitive space, the ability to deliver personalized information based on prospective students’ interests and engagement is an important differentiator.
By tracking student interests, you can provide information on specific programs that can sway a student’s decision.
By monitoring engagement, you can re-engage a prospective student who has stopped interacting with your messages.
And by personalizing your messages, you can identify and attract the ideal students for your institution.
Learn more about marketing automation for higher education—and prepare to grow your enrollment.

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