What Are Student Personas? Everything You Need to Know
Want to improve student enrollment at your college or university? Here's why you need to create student personas.
- Decide who you want to reach: Identify your ideal student and why he or she would want to engage with your school.
- Determine how to reach that student persona: Find out where your target student audience gets information about your school and what they care about.
- Leverage personalized communications: Create a digital communications plan that uses emails, social media, and other personalized channels to engage them.
- Track your results: Establish metrics and monitor them regularly to determine if your digital communications are hitting the mark with your target personas.
- Update your student personas. Conduct ongoing assessments and adjust your student personas as needed.
Student personas can make or break your digital marketing. They can help you to engage the right kind of students if you know how to use them correctly.
What is a student persona?
A student persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal student. When properly researched and executed, a persona can help you connect with the right student, at the right time.
Your student persona should include:
- A short summary of the student, their interests, their goals, and other relevant information
- Age, location, and other demographic information
- The student's educational goals and challenges
There are many reasons why colleges and universities use student personas, including:
1. They help you accurately represent what your school is all about
Student personas help determine who you want to reach and the information to share with them. You can then tailor the information you provide in marketing to this segment of students. The result: Students can quickly and easily get accurate information about your school.
2. You can engage with students at different points in the decision-making process
Student personas are similar to buyer personas, i.e., they are research-based representations of the real people who purchase your products and services. Businesses use buyer personas to engage with consumers at each stage of the buyer's journey (awareness, consideration, and decision). In the same vein, you can leverage student personas to connect with students as they decide whether to enroll in your school.
3. Personas improve your digital marketing
Student personas empower you to deliver timely, pertinent messaging to students. That way, you can get the most value out of your digital marketing campaigns.
In order to realize the full benefits of student personas, it helps to know what they look like. With them, you can craft messaging and a distribution strategy that aligns with your ideal student’s needs and habits.
5 Student persona examples
It can be beneficial to start with a basic student persona to use as part of your digital marketing. Examples of student personas used by colleges and universities include:
1. High school student
A high school student aspires to attend a higher education institution in the foreseeable future. This student is usually a teenager looking for the right degree program. He or she may be considering colleges and universities that align with their budget and educational goals.
2. Transfer student
A transfer student is currently enrolled in a college or university degree program but is looking to finish their program elsewhere. Transfer students can include those who want to turn an associate degree into a bachelor's degree, or students who may be unhappy with their current degree program or looking to move to another part of the country. They are often primarily concerned with ensuring their existing credits will transfer to their new school.
3. Second career student
A second career student refers to an individual who previously earned a bachelor's degree in one study area but wants to pursue a career in a different area. Second career students tend to be older than high school students and have professional experience. They may be unfulfilled in their current career and seeking a degree program that helps them change course.
4. Learning parent
A learning parent is raising children and pursuing a degree program. The parent may want to earn their first degree or progress their education to a master's degree or Ph.D. Learning parents typically prioritize flexibility, due to the fact that they are simultaneously taking care of their kids and completing higher ed classes. They may perform online research into colleges and universities and seek advice from family members, friends, and colleagues.
5. Working student
A working student is interested in both pursuing a college or university degree and working a part- or full-time job. Working students are usually ambitious and willing to do what it takes to improve their skills. Like learning parents, working students tend to prioritize flexible classes.
Now that you know a few student personas used by colleges and universities, let's look at tips to help you develop effective personas for your school.
5 tips to develop effective student personas
Here are five tips to help you create effective student personas:
1. Determine who you want to reach
Identify your ideal student. Determine their typical demographics, goals, challenges, and other factors that influence their enrollment decision.
2. Decide how to reach that student persona
Find out where your student persona spends time. For example, those interested in higher ed for career advancement may get information about your school on LinkedIn. Comparatively, a high school student may learn about your school on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
3. Leverage personalized communications
Establish a digital communications plan. Use personalized emails, social media posts, blog posts, and other communications to engage with your student personas.
4. Track your results
Monitor the results of your digital communications to that persona. Produce regular reports to see if those communications are hitting the mark with your student personas.
5. Update your student personas
Evaluate your student personas periodically. You should adjust them if your school launches a new degree program, remote courses, or other unique offerings.
How you use student personas can have far-flung effects on your digital marketing. By developing and implementing student personas, tracking their progress, and updating them as needed, you are well-equipped to get the best results from your personas.
Want to enhance your digital marketing? Partner with KWALL
Building student personas can be tricky, but KWALL can help. We offer digital marketing services designed to help colleges and universities engage students, drive enrollment, and more. Contact KWALL today to find out how we can help you enhance your digital marketing.