The rapidly growing popularity of customized celebrity shoutout platform, Cameo and the huge social-sharing success of Spotify's listener-centered ‘2020 Year in Review' animations clearly show that personalized video content is having a moment. So how can universities capitalize on this trend for one-to-one communications to stand out to prospective students?
Users are flocking to the customized celebrity shoutout platform, Cameo as a unique way to send personalized celebrity videos for a range of different occasions. It's something a bit different, and the surprise and delight and personalization is part of what makes it so popular.
Whilst you may not have access to well-known celebrities to appear in one-to-one student-targeted videos, there are a number of ways you can take inspiration from the Cameo service and utilize the network of experts you do have access to in order to make prospective students feel extra special.
In this article, we take a look at a few ideas our team came up with for inspiration to get you thinking about the potential of using one-to-one personalized communications with prospects
Utilize your alumni to help visualize success for students
One of the key reasons students go into higher education is to start their career path in a chosen field, and students will often have very specific ideas about the future job they want.
Whilst facts and stats on the number of graduates going on to find career success are always helpful in giving an indication of an institution's rankings, being able to provide stories directly from those who have already found their way into their dream career following their studies, can be even more convincing.
A great way to bring job opportunities to life, therefore, in a more personalized way could be to match students who have listed specific career aspirations with university alumni who are already achieving them and have them share a video message of support or guidance.
We've seen some great examples of presidents and student presidents making personalized videos
Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler wanted to add a personal touch to Commencement this year. Over the course of three weeks, in between Zoom calls and often into the evening, President Tiefenthaler donned her regalia and, using the bookcase in her office as a backdrop, recorded 539 personalized messages - 524 for the undergraduates and 15 graduates in CC's Master of Arts in Teaching program.
The decision to cancel the Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 was very difficult says President Tiefenthaler.
"While it was obvious and the right decision, it made me very sad. Senior spring and Commencement weekend are such an important part of a CC residential, liberal arts education and an important part of the transition to the next step. I wanted our seniors to know that we were proud of them and wished them the best and it just seemed right to say that to each and every one of them," she says.
Until two years ago, high school students received an acceptance letter and welcome package delivered by mail from Loyola University Maryland notifying them of their admission status. That all changed when the university implemented a new customer relationship management system (CRM), Slate. With student information now recorded in the CRM, the university was finally able to digitally communicate word of admission to students in real time. It also opened a whole new world of creative opportunity to the admission and marketing teams.
As per the Case Study on Vidyard, we discovered that the video, which was pushed out to all admitted students, garnered 3,683 views with an 81% engagement rate—the highest average engagement for a video in that yielded cycle. “The analytics made us braver; we could see how many times a student would go back and watch it, or share it,” says Genna. Although Genna and the team were impressed with the engagement numbers they were seeing, they weren’t sure if the time and effort it took to produce the personalized video was making the impact they hoped.
Reach out to social clubs to help set the scene for campus life
For many students considering their higher education options, the social aspect of university life can play a huge part in helping them choose one institution over another. What better way to tip the scales for socially-minded students than by providing them with their own personal video invite to join the university social club or sports team, delivered by the team captain themselves?
Or if a student has questions on the nightlife and entertainment available locally, you might partner with a local cinema or bar or promote the student union facilities, and record a video message from a member of staff offering a free welcome drink or box of popcorn - a great way to showcase what's on offer and give the student the VIP treatment at the same time.
Showcase the expertise of your faculty members
For those students who have a real passion for their chosen subject and a keen interest in learning everything there is to know, a personalized video message from an expert member of their prospective faculty might be considered more exciting than a celebrity message.
Having a university lecturer or subject expert follow up with a student, after they've attended a taster session during an open day, for example, can be a great way to share in their passion and help inspire them further. By offering unique insights in their chosen field of study, sharing advice, or picking up on an earlier conversation topic they might have discussed, the lecturer can start to build rapport with the student and help show them what student life could be like.
Add the personal touch to student ambassador communications
Your student ambassadors are often the first and most frequent point of contact for a student in their initial phases of research and during their first few weeks settling into university life. For these reasons, they often make the biggest impression.
Utilizing one-to-one video messaging to deliver personalized information can be a great way to share a greater level of detail and show how much you care about the student's future.
Student ambassadors could supply personal video messages that demonstrate life on campus, for example, with an informal look at what the halls or grounds of your institution are really like, or show exactly what it's like to sit in their specific lecture theatre for lessons.
No matter how you look to introduce more personalization into your student responses, timing will likely mean everything. After a student has made initial or repeat inquiries, for example, via a live chat function on your website, via email to a member of staff or student ambassador, or when attending an open day, these are perfect occasions where you might consider following up with a more tailored response, brought to life in video form.
Are you looking to apply personalization techniques to your student communications over the next few months or have you already introduced tactics into your marketing plans? We'd love to hear about it.