22 March 2021
Why authenticity matters in Higher Ed

Research by the Guardian newspaper has revealed that university spending on marketing is at an all-time high: in the millions, for some institutions. It’s a necessity in the market today, and it’s essential that universities shout about what makes them unique in an increasingly competitive market. 

But the news was met with raised eyebrows by students and commentators. The UCU’s acting general secretary, Paul Cottrell, said “It is clearly important that universities make potential students aware of the benefits of higher education,” but said he feared current marketing practises seemed to value “style over substance.”

The government has stepped in too. The education secretary, Damian Hinds, has revealed plans to crack down on “pressure selling” tactics employed by some universities.

It reflects a trend that we’ve observed for several years now – young people are increasingly sceptical of traditional marketing efforts. Gen X have been raised on trusting TripAdvisor and Twitter more than newspapers and television. They value authenticity above all else.

Luckily, universities have an authentic, marketing asset in abundance: students. YouGov data released last summer reveals that 86% of students are satisfied with their course. Those are real, happy students – and those are the voices that prospects want to hear. 

Unibuddy was built to allow prospective students to access these authentic voices. Almost everyone trusts a personal review over a marketing spiel – no amount of stats or facts can live up to a personal recommendation. And that’s true for Gen Z more than any generation before. Your prospects put their faith in peer reviews, and you can harness this to help them find where they belong. 

Adding a human touch to your website doesn’t need to be time consuming. In fact, Unibuddy can be embedded with a single piece of HTML code – exactly the same as embedding a YouTube video or Google Maps.

You can add your student’s smiling faces to your homepage with easily embeddable elements and create a compelling call to action that drives lead-generation and conversations.

By connecting their prospective students with their best advocates, universities around the world are improving their lead generation and conversion efforts. Students who used Unibuddy at Queen Mary University were 34.8% more likely to enrol than those who did not. And in the US, St John’s University found that 28% of Unibuddy users went on to deposit – higher than the 16% institutional average.

While university websites are great for many things, many are missing natural and authentic peer-to-peer connections. For prospective students, these conversations are the most important resource when making big decisions about where to study.

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