- Read time: 7 mins
- Tech level: low
- Key point: improve applications with a student persona document.
- Topics: student personas, improving your content and attracting more students
- Key resource: go straight to the 'persona generator tool'.
How student personas can attract more applicants
Creating content that students find engaging starts with understanding your audiences
Personas are fictional representations of an audience, that crystalise the information needs, interests, preferences and pain points of your target audience. Personas are a great way to virtually bring your audiences into the decision making process.
Research your audiences
Start by researching the types of students you want at your university/college. Study what your ideal students need to know. If you have little to no budget to do market research, then there are free or low-cost ways to research.
Ways that you can do desk research include:
- talk to your front-line staff,
- survey existing website visitors,
- review website stats and analytics,
- analyse stats from your social media channels, and
- read past research reports.
We call documents with minimal research proto-personas because they lack sufficient thorough research to support the claims made. Learn how to turn a proto persona into a proper persona.
These papers are useful for recording information about your current audience. However, they may not be the target audience you are trying to reach. You need the budget here.
If you have the budget then you need to document your ideal audiences.
An ideal applicant could be:
- a high achiever
- someone in a specific age group
- interested in studying a particular subject or degree
- already studying at a different university and you may want to encourage them to transfer to your college
Whatever your ideal student is, according to your marketing strategy, the prospective students that meet your criteria may not be visiting your website yet. The people that your university is already attracting may be the opposite to your ideal student. So, asking your current audience what makes a website more interesting is not useful for your strategic goal.
Recruit your ideal students for your research
You need to recruit members of your target audience. The participants need to meet the criteria of your ideal audience.
In research sessions, ask
- what they want on your website,
- what info matters,
- what would make them apply, etc.
Then using a trained user-experience researcher, ask the research participants to carry out tasks on your website.
Keep track of what they said, how well they did, how long it took, and how hard or frustrating it was. Use a tool such as UserTesting.com to manage this research.
Distilling research into personas
College student personas for higher education
It's important that key members of your marketing team understand what personas are. To help explain what student personas are, we've created some examples for you:
- Persona: 'The young school leaver'
- Learn how to improve your website with a 'potential college student persona' that includes the most important persona information
- Persona: 'The college applicant'
- Persona template for 'The college applicant' that will save you time and money. Learn how to make your Government website easier to use for this persona.
- Persona: 'The potential study abroad student'
- This persona of a study abroad student will save you the time and cost involved in starting from scratch. Learn how to make your website easier for this persona
- Persona: 'The student that wants to study abroad in North America'
- This persona of an American college student will save you the time and cost involved in starting from scratch. Learn how to make your website easier for this student persona
- Persona: 'The busy mature-age student'
- Persona template for a mature-age student that will save you time and money. Learn how to make your university website easier to use for this mature age persona
- Persona: 'The busy primary school teacher'
- Persona template for 'The busy primary school teacher' that will save you time and money. Learn how to make your website easier to use for 'The busy primary school teacher' persona
- Persona: 'The father looking to return to work'
- Persona template for 'The father looking to return to work' that will save you time and money. Learn how to make your website easier to use for this persona
- Persona: 'The potential international student'
How these personas can help you
The most successful marketing campaigns are the ones that appeal to the target audiences. How can you make your marketing and messages appeal to your ideal students if you're just guessing what they like?
Personas are critical in higher education marketing because competition is becoming more fierce every year. There are new choices for students and many modern colleges that are skilled at marketing.
Even if your university or college is already well-known and leading in the market, personas can still be useful. They can help you maintain your top position.
You can use this tool to create your own persona. Remember - unless you have solid research to back up your personas, they are proto-personas.
Create your student persona using a persona generator
To save time and effort, use our persona generator tool. Having a solid, usable persona with the click of a button saves you valuable time, which means you can start building the content and strategies that make personas so useful.
You can have a beautifully designed and effective persona in minutes rather than days. The outlines of your primary and secondary personas will come in handy as you begin to create your legitimate persona.
Our persona generator will guide you through each step of the process of creating a new persona and will make sure that you have all the necessary components that make up a strong persona. You may get new insights and more information on your ideal audiences by answering questions you hadn’t previously thought of.
Print your personas and hang them up in common areas of your office
Now that the personas are made, you have to put them to good use.
Print your personas and place them all over your office as a reminder for who you are trying to appeal to. There are several good reasons for this, such as:
- Having your personas there to remind you that they are the most important people in the process can be helpful as it’s easy to get caught up in the busy workings of an organization.
- Printing them out encourages usage of your personas. You’ve gone to all the trouble of making your student personas, so it would be a shame to forget about them and not put them to any use.
Having the image of your personas in front of you is also helpful in visualizing your audience as real people rather than simply customers or clients. They are a big part of the process who need to be considered in all of the discussions and decisions that will affect them.
Visualizing your ideal audience as student personas not only helps them have a better customer experience but also helps your business reach its goals. Using our persona generator tool means you have more time to use your student personas to help increase your applications because the process is easier and faster than if you were to start from a blank page. Take a project that could have taken weeks into one that only takes a few simple steps by using our generator.
Summary of the 5 main steps
Determine your ideal audience
You need to think about your ideal audience rather than your existing customer/client base because your current audience may not be particularly profitable.
Get support from the top
Buy-in from the top will enable you to successfully implement your new personas.
Get buy-in from your team and colleagues
Your content producers will be creating and tailoring the content for your personas, so it’s vital that they understand the characteristics of your ideal buyer personas.
Create your primary buyer persona using a persona generator
To save time and effort, use our persona generator tool.
Print and display your new personas
The image of your personas in front of you is also helpful in visualizing your audience as real people rather than simply customers or clients.