For-Profit Colleges: Reaching Non-Traditional Students Through Non-Traditional Marketing

Nov 02, 2017 | 4  min
author Allegra Korver
FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

As a for-profit college, you likely have a website. You also likely have a Facebook page and also send marketing emails to prospective and current students. We’re not here to cover the basics of what you should be doing to attract applicants and increase enrollment. What we are here to do is give you some non-traditional marketing methods that you can use to target your non-traditional students—the people who are working part- or full-time, who have a family, who are older or who just otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to get a post-secondary education.

Education campaigns for… higher education

Deciding what college or university to attend is not a decision that most take lightly. The impact of that decision resonates for years afterward, not only while a student is enrolled, but also as they pursue a career and pay off loans. Therefore, marketing to these students requires a longer sales cycle than quick-win ecommerce campaigns. To account for this, consider implementing a more subtle lead nurturing process by providing value in a “help, don’t sell” effort.

What does this mean? It means that instead of directly marketing your school, run unbranded education campaigns that serve to answer more general questions key audiences might have.

  • Benefits of attending a for-profit college
  • Dispelling myths about for-profit schools
  • Navigating the student loan process

You can get started on these campaigns by looking at what internet users are already searching for online (and what results they currently see).

Expand your content reach with guest posting

Guest posting can take two forms—having well-known industry names write for your site or posting your articles on third-party sites. The latter is a great way to widen the reach of an audience, build authority on a topic and drive backlinks to benefit SEO. Especially if the site has a trustworthy domain authority and respectable recent post history.

These efforts don’t have to be confined to blogging. Thought leaders and students can also contribute videos, webinars or podcasts. Publishing content on external sites drives referral traffic back to your own site over time and creates long-lasting SEO benefits from backlinks placed strategically with your top keywords in guest articles, podcast transcripts and other media.

Sites like Medium and Huffington Post allow anyone to publish content and are a great place to start with a guest posting strategy. The readership of online publications like these also skew younger and tech-savvy.

More industry-specific sites like the Chronicle of Higher Education allow external writers to submit opinion articles and manuscripts for possible publication. (Check out The Chronicle’s submission guidelines.) Another option is through University Business and their Thought Leadership Advertising, which invites you to establish your school’s position in higher education through a 500 word “advertisement.”

Rethinking social media for non-traditional students

As we mentioned earlier, you likely already have a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile for your school. These resources are great for students and potential students who are actively looking for your brand. But what about those who don’t know what they don’t know?

Targeting Parent Support Groups on Facebook

We’re not talking about parents of students. We’re talking about students who are parents. Facebook is the best platform to reach these non-traditional students, like stay-at-home moms and dads. You can do so by connecting with members of local parent support groups by being an active participant in the conversations taking place there. This tactic must be executed well, however. We’ve all seen questionable (at best) posts in comments sections baiting us with promises of making millions while working from home. Don’t be that poster.

Targeting Professionals with LinkedIn Advertising

For-profit colleges aren’t only for undergraduate students. In fact, enrollment of graduate students has quintupled in the last 15 years, according to a study done by americanprogress.org.

For Profit Colleges Infographic

Consider targeting specific job titles in your area on LinkedIn, the professional’s social network. Through paid ads and sponsored content, you can promote your school’s graduate degree programs that are relevant to their current title. If you don’t offer online programs, you could further home your audience by narrowing the target list to those within a 30-mile radius of your campus.

Monitor your reputation online

As a for-profit, pay attention to review sites like www.niche.com as well. This site, in particular, provides data about K-12 schools, colleges and neighborhoods across the country. College-specific data reviews academic, admissions, financial and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as student and alumni reviews. These review sites will help you know the “pulse” of how your students see their school.

Your next steps

As a marketing professional at a for-profit college, your job is to create and promote enviable experiences that drive potential students to apply at and enroll in your school. By innovatively connecting with these applicants, you can support your narrative of being the place where they can better themselves through unique educational opportunities.

At Pyxl, we have experience in the non-profit and for-profit higher education space. We would love to talk to you about what marketing you’re currently running for your college or university—whether traditional or non-traditional—and how ideas like these can help you stand out and succeed. Contact us!

Learn more tactics in our on-demand webinar Managing Digital Media in Higher Education.

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Where does your digital marketing need help?

What's New

Latest trends and insights
What is a Digital Agency & What Can They Do For My Business?
Oct 16, 2020 | 5  min

There are two ways to handle your digital marketing efforts. You can conduct your marketing in-house or you can outsource your marketing and hire a ...   Read more

author Kati Fredericksen
Pyxl Recognized with Three International MarCom Awards
Jan 14, 2021 | 2  min

We are excited to announce that our team has won three MarCom Awards for our work this past year! The MarCom Awards, put on by ...   Read more

author Kati Fredericksen
Top 8 Marketing Challenges & Solutions for 2021
Jan 12, 2021 | 6  min

The year 2020 has had quite an impact on many businesses. With so many unforeseen events, businesses have had to quickly adjust and make changes ...   Read more

author Kati Fredericksen
© 2021 Pyxl, Inc. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy