Want to fill your classrooms? Discover the secret of student buyer personas – How we find your perfect audience!

At our education marketing agency, we recognize that students are not just mere prospects but valuable customers. Their decision to invest in an educational course entails a significant amount of time, energy and money, making it a critical one. To successfully convert them into enrolled students, it’s essential to understand who they are and communicate with them in an effective manner. This is where a buyer persona comes in.

Our team helps you identify your ideal customer – whether they are a parent seeking career advancement, a student transitioning to higher education or a professional looking to enhance their skills for a promotion. By understanding their motivations and needs, we can tailor our marketing efforts to attract and enroll the perfect students for your institution.

What is a student buyer persona?

A buyer persona (sometimes called a customer avatar) is a detailed profile of who your customer is, what they want, and their motivations for buying your product. And in student enrolment marketing, identifying a buyer persona can make the difference between a successful marketing campaign or many empty classrooms.

How to construct your student buyer persona?

The best way to start building a profile of your buyer is by looking at resources you have right in front of you: your current students and staff. Get to know your student body by speaking to the people who’ve already booked on to your course, survey your students, analyse your student database, talk to the recruitment team and to your trainers. These conversations and exercises may take a while, but it will be worth it.

Once you understand who your students are, their motivations and the reasons they choose you, you’ll be able to use this information in every aspect of your marketing campaign.

There are three main factors to consider when creating your buyer persona:

  1. Demographics

These are the basic pieces of information about your students. Your demographics can include:

  • Age – what is the average age of a particular student?
  • Location – where is home for the majority of your students?
  • Income – what can your average student afford?
  • Education – are your students school leavers or post-graduates?
  • Gender – what percentage are male/female/other?
  • Marital/child status – do they have a family to support?

Most of this data should be easy to find within your databases. However, if you need additional information, a survey can fill in the gaps.

  1. Characteristics

What are the traits of your students and what does a day in their life look like? The characteristics you want to know about are:

  •   Job – do they already have a career and income?
  •   Hobbies and passions – what makes your student tick.
  •   Daily life – are they outdoorsy? Do they spend time in the city?
  •   Are they tech-savvy? – Do they use a computer or mobile device regularly?
  •   Communication – are they always on social media or do they prefer to make calls? How do they talk to others and source their information?

Surveys are a fantastic way to collect this information. By finding out who your students are, you can discover the best way to connect with them.

  1. Motivations

Motivations tell you why students enrol with you. They delve into your potential customer’s wants, needs, desires and fears.

Educational courses aren’t bought on a whim, they’re purchased after careful consideration and are undertaken with the hope that they will fulfil a particular desire. Motivation is probably the most significant driving force in education, so it is crucial to address.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself regarding your customers’ motivations:

  •   Why do they want to do the course? Are they upskilling or looking to change career? Or have they been a carer at home and they’re looking to re-enter the work force?
  •   What do they hope for? Are they hoping to start a career or pursue further education?
  •   What are they afraid of? Are they nervous about spending money or failing? Or are they fearful about job security?
  •   Are they motivated more by desire or fear?
  •   Why do students enrol with you over a competitor?

As you can imagine, these questions aren’t always easy to answer. Therefore, interviews with students and staff will help you to find your answers most effectively. By gaining a thorough understanding of motivation, you can create tailored messages that speak to your students’ motivations and desires, and you can drive them toward action.

Examples of a buyer persona in student enrolment marketing

  1. The school leaver

Every year, thousands of teenagers say goodbye to school and start actively engaging with higher-education institutions to pursue their chosen field of study. Let’s create a school leaver called Josh.

Josh is 16-18 years old with little to no income. His day-to-day activities consist of completing schoolwork, spending time with friends and family, and participating in extracurricular activities. He is motivated by achieving good grades and pursuing his career but has concerns about funding his education and finding a course that suits his needs. He seeks information from his school, career counsellor, from social media and from internet research.

  1. The international student

An international student can be any age but is typically 18-35. They could be moving into further education or changing things up in their career with an educational trip abroad. Or perhaps they want to improve their language skills by living and working abroad. Let’s take Eva as an example.

Eva is 21 and has just completed a media degree. She’s now decided that she’d like to gain career-specific skills by studying marketing abroad. Her life is based around studying, hanging out with friends and planning her career. She is motivated by the idea of studying in a different culture, challenging herself with education and building her skillset ready for work. Her fears are based around moving abroad on her own and the associated admin, funding the trip and finding the right college for her. She conducts most of her research online and through social media.

  1. The career change applicant

Changing careers has become increasingly common in the past few years. Students who feel unsatisfied in their current jobs are taking a chance and pursing something they have a real passion for.

Ryan is 36 and has been working in administration for over ten years but, after realising he gained little satisfaction from his job, he has decided to become a nurse. His life is split between the office and his home where he has a partner and two children. His primary motivations are to help people and create a meaningful career. His fears come from financial insecurity while he makes the change whilst trying to help support his family. He gains his information from online research and college and university open days.

  1. The studying parent

Whether they lost their job or took a break to care for children or family, many people are facing a return to work after a long break. They are driven to make themselves as attractive as possible to employers.

Nicola is a 31-year-old mother who took time away from work to care for her children. She’s now ready to re-enter the workforce but wants additional training to help prepare her for her next job. She has a busy schedule that can change and she grabs time for herself when she can. She’s focussed on building up her skills and confidence so that she can return to work as soon as possible. She is concerned about finding enough time to study and finding a course that can give her relevant skills and experience. She does most of her research online but will also call colleges to get more specific information.

The key point in crafting an effective buyer persona is to create one for every audience segment (e.g. prospective international students) that you target during outreach activities such as email campaigns, social media posts and webinars. Putting together these buyer personas will enable you to understand why your students would choose you and how to encourage them to take the next step in their education. Although a lengthy process, it’s incredibly valuable and will set your marketing campaign on the path to success.

Having student buyer personas for your prospective students will help you create clear messaging to match their needs. Buyer personas are built through demographics, characteristics and motivations that align with the types of people who would be interested in what you have to offer. By implementing this effective technique, you will soon find your classrooms filled with eager students ready to make great strides in their future.

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