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Redefining the College Recruitment Strategy

As college recruiters, you’ve probably heard a lot about marketing to Millennials. Perhaps you even feel that you have a solid understanding of this demographic.

Unfortunately, it’s all about to change again.

The “audience persona” spotlight is going to shift to a new generation. They’re the first digitally native generation, have the shortest attention span (8 seconds), and are the most diverse U.S. generation yet.

They’re Generation Z, and they have the amazing ability to ignore traditional advertising better than any of us. And this brings up the question—how will your college recruitment strategy successfully reach them?

College Recruitment Reaches a New Paradigm

Working in college admissions and recruiting, you’re constantly aware of the new ways that the younger generation is consuming information. The 17-year-old members of Generation Z do it much differently than Millennials did at the same age—they’re visiting different platforms, using different apps and speaking in different emojis.

How does this new paradigm affect your college recruitment strategy? The truth is, you’ll still be doing a lot of the same direct mailers and print materials—the big push when financial aid is released and the ever-popular summer view book—but the key is to implement new elements into these pieces that further the conversation with students.

College Recruitment Strategy

Your college recruitment strategy should evolve, just as the way communication has from generation to generation. Be sure to cover your bases when formulating your college recruitment campaign to ensure you’re creating the connection with students—and parents—that translates into future alumni.

 Know Your Audience(s)

You’re recruiting high school students to attend your school, but that isn’t your only audience. The parents of these students are just as important.

Traditional mailers not only reach out to students, but also allow you to reach the parent, and we know parents play an important role in the decision making process. In fact, 60% of prospective college students report that they research colleges with their parents, and 61% make the final decision together.

In most cases, you can count on the parent to be the first to see your direct mail piece—and it’s likely that they’ll flip through the material before their kid does! It’s crucial to design your print materials in a way that connects with both audiences.  

Factors Affecting a Student's Choice in School

Bridge the Gap from Print to Digital

Your direct mail pieces enable you to make the “first move” with a student—you put yourself out there in hopes that the student likes the college well enough to continue the conversation. With any first impression, your college needs to show that you are worth connecting with.

When it comes to Generation Z, virtually everything they do is digital. Your mailer may have gotten their attention for a split-second, but you need to figure out a way to continue to gain their 8-second attention span with future messages. Integrating your digital marketing strategies into your print collateral can help you achieve this.

 College Recruiting Direct Mail Campaigns

Some of the ways you can integrate your digital presence in with your print materials include the following:

Personalized URLs (PURLs)

Personalized URLs can be created for individual recipients, or for a certain subset of your audience. You could implement this into your college recruitment strategy by creating PURLs related to specific majors. If you know what major a student may be interested in, this type of variable printing allows you to cater the story to them. Take them to a webpage that has a video of an alumni—with that same degree—talking about their experience at the University, and how it has helped them get to where they are now.

PURLs are an element of variable printing that Metzgers specializes in. Along with personalized URLs, you are able to set headlines, images and body copy as variable elements, allowing you to create a personalized piece for each audience you are targeting.

Personalized URLs PURLs

Snapchat Code

To capture the attention of Generation Z and help them to envision themselves at your school, you need to inspire them to do so! Snapchat, which recently surpassed Twitter with the most monthly active users, appears to have the most engaged audience with over 400 million snaps sent per day. In fact, of the 100 million users visiting the platform on a daily basis, 26 million are aged 13-17.

If your school has an active Snapchat account, integrate the promotion of the Snapcode into your college recruitment materials. Engaging prospective students via Snapchat provides the opportunity to communicate with them on a daily basis, truly showcasing the experience that students have on campus. While storytelling may not be feasible on a post card or mailer, including your Snapcode is, and that allows you to meet your audience where they spend their time.

Social Media Integration

Including social icons on your materials is in no way new, however the way you are utilizing the social channels may need to be assessed.

The emergence of live streaming on various platforms, including Facebook, provides another opportunity for authentic storytelling. Showcasing the campus experience can be done with the touch of a button, but in order to capitalize on this, you want to ensure that the right audience is watching. Virtual reality 360 video has also allowed social media users to interact with the content being posted, further enhancing the social experience and strengthening the connection. Some schools are even going as far as sending prospective students low-end virtual reality goggles, allowing them to take virtual tours of their campus! While virtual reality goggles may be a stretch for most college recruitment budgets, the example does showcase the shift to integrating emerging technology and tactics into your college recruitment strategy.  

Putting Your College Recruitment Strategy into Place

The typical college recruitment campaign consists of mailers throughout the entire year, making it crucial to have a process in place for maintaining your mailing lists—and a printing company capable of meeting your needs.

Metzgers has extensive experience working with colleges and universities, fulfilling printing needs while integrating tactics to help them meet the right audience with the right messages. If you’re in the process of integrating new tactics into your college recruitment strategy, or you’re seeking a new partner to help your school meet your recruitment goals, contact a Metzgers sales representative at 419.861.8611 to learn how we can help you make your vision into a reality.




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