Back to Main

Lead Generation Got You Down? Pivot to Building Brand Awareness to Boost College Enrollment Numbers

Is college worth it? That’s a question more and more people are asking themselves – and that is creating a need to rethink lead generation campaigns and take a step toward building greater brand awareness for your college.

Is college worth it? That’s a question more and more people are asking themselves – and that is creating a need to rethink lead generation campaigns and take a step toward building greater brand awareness for your college.

It used to be that college was perceived as the best path to a good future. But perceptions of higher education have been changing for some time now and inflation, coupled with the rising cost of tuition, are just some of the latest factors impacting enrollment, as covered last fall in this NBC News story, “Growing Number of Americans Questioning the Value of College Degree.”

The Hechinger Report’s “How higher education lost its shine,” published around the same time, shares that “Americans are increasingly dubious about the need to go to college. Fewer than one in three adults now say a degree is worth the cost, according to a survey by the Strada Education Network.”

The article goes on to explain that some of the reasons for this, as gleaned from focus groups and public opinion surveys, is widespread and fast-growing skepticism about the value of a degree, impatience with the time it takes to get one and costs that have finally exceeded many people’s ability or willingness to pay.

Add to those perceptions the fact that other educational options are increasingly available. This Inside Higher Education story covers the findings of a study on higher education enrollment declines and touches on some of those options.

“The respondents were also taking advantage of, and saw value in, alternative modes of education outside of pursuing a degree, according to the study,” the article reads. “Almost half of the group, 47 percent, reported they had taken or were currently taking classes on YouTube. Roughly a quarter of respondents had participated in courses to receive a license, and 22 percent participated in classes to earn a verified certificate.”

The factors converge to make it necessary for community colleges and college programs to evolve to survive, and they must rethink their brand in the process – who are they now and what do they offer that competing educational modes don’t?

People Need to Know You Before They Can
Trust You

Digital marketing and social media are important distribution channels for building brand awareness. You might think of them primarily as vehicles for lead generation, good tools to help get users to sign up for an upcoming event or capture their information so you can send them promotional emails in the future.

Social media is a good tool for lead generation, but it is also important for building brand awareness. The Digital Marketing Institute shares that brand awareness, as opposed to pure lead generation, is becoming a greater focus on social media. 

So, what is brand awareness? Brand awareness focuses on making your target audiences familiar with your brand. You are letting them know you exist and what you are about. Your audiences can then form an opinion about whether they want what you have to offer. Once they are aware of your brand, and trust it, then they are in a position to take action.

Here’s another way of describing brand awareness, courtesy of this LOCALiQ article:

“To put it in terms of another analogy, brand awareness helps you grease the wheels when it comes to getting new customers. When a person is already familiar with your business, they’re more likely to click on your ads, give you their information, or become a customer. In fact, one study found that when searching for a business, 82% of people clicked on a result from a brand they were familiar with.”

This Wordstream by LOCALiQ article provides some good tips and examples of brand awareness.

Taking the time to build this awareness is an important part of any campaign. Before you ask a prospective student to enroll or sign up for an event, you want to spend 4-6 weeks running awareness ads, so prospective students have a chance to get to know you before you ask them to take action. So don’t forget when planning for your next campaign to dedicate a portion of your budget to brand awareness.

But First, Get Clear on Your Brand

Do you know what your college’s share of voice and sentiment are, for both specific classes and the college’s reputation overall—especially against those of your competitors?

Given the shifting views about higher education and its value, before you even start planning a brand awareness campaign, it’s important to understand how your current brand is being perceived within your unique market.

You can certainly gather this information by monitoring conversations around your brand on social media, Google alerts, reading online reviews of your organization and/or conducting surveys. At FCM we offer a full service brand sentiment analysis where we use listening tools that allow us to track brand mentions and conversations happening around topics important to your college.

Our tools have robust features that allow us to analyze all the collected data to understand customer trends, build campaigns backed by data, gather competitor intelligence, and support search engine optimization strategies.

Having this level of data and detail has been an eye opening experience for many of the colleges with whom we are working. One college was attempting to be known for its career education certifications in both its health and business programs.

The brand sentiment analysis revealed that while the college was doing pretty well in how health programs were being perceived within their market, business classes were being dominated by a local for-profit school.

The data gleaned from the analysis will ensure the right keywords and phrases are being associated with the college’s programs and backlinking on the website to support SEO, brand sentiment and visibility. The college will use public relations and organic digital strategies to lay the necessary foundation for a robust fall lead generation campaign. 

If your organization is struggling with getting enrollments, let us help you get the right data to develop a smart rebranding strategy that garners high results for your lead generation campaigns.  You can sign up for a  complimentary consultation at


There are no comments yet

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thought Leaders in Workforce, Education & Entrepreneurship

Download our eBooks now and get informed. Download