Research by mStoner Outlines Best Channels for Higher Education Enrollment Marketing

The results of the study demonstrate how prospective students view college rankings, digital marketing and social outreach.

Mythbusting Enrollment Marketing, new research from digital agency mStoner, Inc., uncovers the best channels for boosting visibility among prospective teen students and answers how they perceive and use recruitment communications materials during their admission journey.

The survey asked teens to share their frank opinions of tactics colleges and universities use to reach and engage them, and asked higher ed marketing and admission professionals about their perceptions of how teens use the resources in a college’s marketing mix. More than 800 college professionals and 1,700 high school students responded to this survey.

These insights are especially important today, when the pressure on college and university admission officers to hit enrollment goals has never been higher. In response to flat and decreasing demographic trends, many institutions are evolving and adapting by better aligning their admissions efforts with the work of the institution’s marketing department as a whole. With numerous audiences to serve (prospective students, parents, alumni, and more), marketing and admissions officers are consistently tasked with striking a balance between investing in what is measurable and demonstrates a return on investment, while continuing to trust legacy communication channels that have been leveraged by the admissions department for decades.

Key findings from Mythbusting Enrollment Marketing include:

  • Seven out of 10 teens report they do not consult mainstream college rankings, such as U.S. News and World Report. However, nearly all surveyed professionals believe teens rely on rankings when researching colleges.
  • Seventy-eight percent of teens say they are most influenced by a campus visit; 62 percent say they’re most influenced by a college’s website.
  • Sixty-seven percent of teens recall seeing digital ads from a college. However, retargeting ads have little to no impact on perception of the college for 57 percent of teens.
  • Fifty-six percent of teens indicate that receiving a text from a college representative would positively impact their view of the institution, yet 82 percent of teens have never received texts from colleges.

“Generally, college admission and marketing professionals overestimate the impact social media has on their recruitment efforts while underemphasizing the value of face-to-face communications,” says Michael Stoner, president of mStoner. “While 62 percent of students indicate that a college’s website influences their opinion of the institution, the other top influences on a teen’s opinion of an institution result from interacting with people. Teens still still really value a campus visit and real-life conversation with an admissions officer.”

About mStoner

mStoner, Inc. is a digital-first agency committed to tailored solutions that deliver real results. We craft powerful, tailored, human-centric experiences to illuminate your brand and allow you to tell the story only you can tell. We connect you with the right audience at the right time so you can form right-fit relationships. We position your team for improved productivity, sustainable growth, internal alignment, and proof-positive success. And we aim to make your job fun again and help you create inspired work you are proud to show off. Since 2001, we’ve worked with more than 350 colleges, universities, and professional schools in the U.S. and abroad. For much more, visit our website at

Image: Pexels

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