Every year, thousands of students enroll in higher education.

With the right lead-generation strategies in place, you can ensure that your university is top-of-mind for prospective students.

Lead generation helps universities build meaningful relationships with prospective students, discover their interests, and guide them through decision-making.

It requires a thoughtful and integrated cross-channel strategy designed to drive interest in your universities for prospective students.

It helps optimize the marketing funnel and eventually increases the number of enrollments for a university.

In this post, we will explore the 10 effective higher education lead-generation strategies for attracting, engaging, and converting students.

1. A High-Converting Landing Page Engages More Students

Landing pages drive traffic, convert prospective students, and act as the starting point of your enrollment funnel.

An uncluttered landing page prioritizes the student experience. A conversion-centered layout includes whitespace, color, contrast, and concise content to engage visitors.

It uses a clear headline to convey a value proposition, high-quality images, and a call-to-action (CTA) to guide visitors to take a desired action.

Add a video testimonial from a student or alumni, making the content easier to consume than reading all of it. The video also helps reduce space.

You must ensure a responsive landing page that displays well on all devices, as 57.6% of users browse the internet via mobile phones worldwide.

Here’s an example of the International University of Monaco landing page, which uses a well-placed form, a visually pleasant look, and organized content to substantially improve conversions and generate inquiries earlier in the student journey.

International University of Monaco landing page

Source: University of Monaco

2. SEO Increases Visibility & Organic Traffic for University Websites

According to a study, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and Google holds 92.58% of the total search engine market share.

So, if prospective students want to know more about a university, they’ll first turn to a search engine. And that’s what makes SEO so important.

SEO improves visibility and increases organic traffic to generate potential leads. It also improves your university website’s ranking on search results (SERPs), making it easier for prospective students to find the site.

Targeted optimization for specific keywords and phrases attracts relevant SEO leads. It offers enhanced user experience and site performance, encouraging prospects to engage and convert.

For example, Michigan Technological University leveraged SEO by optimizing its website with high-quality, relevant content and top-ranking keywords, which improved engagement and site visitors.

91.74% of the search traffic drives from Google alone

It's no secret that getting your website seen by the right people is critical to your success, but it can be difficult to know where or how to start your SEO journey.

Think Orion has been helping colleges and universities drive targeted search traffic for over a decade. We have the experience and expertise to get your website seen by the right people, increasing traffic and leads while decreasing costs.

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3. Optimized Facebook Lead Ads Drive Maximum Conversions

Facebook is one of the best platforms for college lead generation, with around 2.9 billion monthly active users worldwide.

Therefore, being present on the platform is not enough. Your ads have to be engaging.

A recent survey of marketers says that Facebook remains the most effective social media marketing platform because it allows you to customize ads according to the target audience persona to ensure they reach qualified leads.

Facebook lead ads campaign simplifies the process of capturing leads for universities through effective digital marketing strategies. Ensure your lead form is simple, matches your ad, and highlights a benefit.

As Facebook lead ads include pre-filled profile data and load instantly, this increases the possibility of generating prospective student leads.

They don’t need to go to another website. This convenience offers a seamless student experience without redirecting users elsewhere.

To understand this better, here’s an example of Independence University’s Facebook lead ads campaign.

It showed that branded search ads were getting too much credit for leads (35%), while Facebook ads were underestimated (57%).

With a well-thought-out Facebook ad strategy, they reduced the cost per lead by 11%. The cost per start or enrollment dropped by 31–39%, helping the university reduce costs and attract more students.

Independence University's Facebook lead ads campaign

Source: Facebook

4. Convert Visitors to Lead With AI Chatbot Integration

The worldwide chatbot market is worth $3.78 billion and is expected to grow by 30.29% until 2027. Integrating advanced AI chatbots in higher education can assist universities in reaching out to prospective online students.

AI chatbots immediately assist website visitors, addressing their queries and concerns in real-time. This instant engagement keeps prospective students engaged and encourages them to explore further.

Advanced AI algorithms enable chatbots to personalize interactions based on visitor preferences, browsing history, and demographics.

They qualify leads by asking targeted questions based on interests, academic preferences, and enrollment readiness.

Analyzing this data provides insights into engagement patterns, pain points, and conversion triggers, enabling student enrollment lead generation.

For example, implementing a chatbot boosted lead-generation efforts at Durham University.

When prospective students visited the university’s website with inquiries about programs or admissions, the AI chatbot provided immediate assistance, guiding them through the application process.

This streamlined interaction increased engagement and captured valuable leads, driving higher enrollment rates for the university.

lead-generation efforts at Durham University from chat bot

Source: Durham University

5. Authentic and Diverse Student Experiences Attract More Prospects

Beyond the facts and figures, prospective students are drawn to stories and authentic connections.

Universities must showcase the experiences of current students, faculty, and alums through compelling narratives and engaging videos.

If your university offers a range of different programs, then be sure to highlight students from every department.

A testimonials section on their website helps Brunel University London attract more students. When prospective students see positive feedback from current or past students, they’re more likely to trust the university and apply.

These testimonials address concerns, showcase diversity, and encourage prospective students to enroll, boosting lead-generation efforts.

Brunel University London testimonial

Source: Brunel University London

6. Reach Target Prospects & Generate Leads With Google Ads

Google can drive an increased volume of leads, with approximately 84.2 billion visits generated on Google, representing over 90% of the search engine market worldwide across all devices, handling over 60% of all search queries in the United States.

Universities should run Google Ads campaigns on Google Search Network and Google Display Network, with a mix of targeted keywords for generating prospective student leads.

When you advertise on the Google Search Network, your ads can appear on Google search results pages based on specific keywords provided by your university.

For example, if prospective students search for ‘computer science programs in Seattle,’ these university ads appear based on keyword relevancy.

university ads appear on google

When you advertise on the Google Display Network, your ad will appear on over 2 million websites, videos, and apps.

See the below ad from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University advertising the Global AI Forum 2024 to discover the latest advancements in AI and the opportunities and potential in higher education.

Depending on how the campaign was set up, the University either requested or Google selected this website based on content relevant to keywords or topics to display ads.

Google Display Network example

Source: Times Higher Education

Industry research found that the click-through rate for search ads was 1.66% in 2023.

Universities can use Google Ads to target specific demographics, locations, and interests relevant to their target audience, such as postgraduate students, parents, or adult learners.

Moreover, ensure your landing pages are optimized for conversions with clear calls-to-action and relevant content that aligns with your ad messaging.

For each student enrolled, colleges and universities spend between $429 and $623 on marketing each year

Are you looking for an experienced, creative, and innovative digital marketing team to help promote your higher education program?

Think Orion specializes in helping universities, colleges, and educational institutions bridge the gap between the traditional higher education model and new digital learning opportunities.

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7. Webinars Give Your Prospects a Clear Path Forward

Webinars are an ideal format to connect prospective students at all stages of the enrollment marketing funnel.

University webinar content should be informative, engaging, and tailored to your audience’s needs. It must offer valuable insights into various programs, admission requirements, campus life, and career opportunities.

When prospective students sign up to attend, they provide their contact information and any other relevant details you choose to ask during the registration process.

This gives you a list of potential leads who have shown genuine interest in your university programs.

For example, Emerson College hosts webinars for prospective students, covering topics such as academic programs, essay writing, campus life, and career opportunities.

Emerson College hosts webinars

Source: Emerson College

8. Tap into the Trend of Student & Alumni Collaboration

The power of student or alumni collaboration lies in leveraging credibility and relatability to impact the university’s brand and reputation positively.

When students post about the university on social media, they can authentically promote its programs, events, and initiatives to prospective students.

Alumni serve as historical markers of success and have a huge influence on prospective students who are considering enrolling in a certain university.

Here’s an example of an alumni influencer: That Oxford Girl, who shares her experiences and insights about Oxford through her social media and blog, attracting prospective students and encouraging them to apply.

Her platform is a trusted source of information and inspiration, promoting the university to a wide audience.

Oxford Girl, who shares her experiences and insights about Oxford

Source: That Oxford Girl

9. Deliver the Right Message at the Right Time With Email Drip Campaigns That Convert

Email drip campaigns are automated email sequences designed to capture leads and deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

Drip emails connect prospects at each stage of student recruitment with tailored content that addresses specific prospective students’ needs and interests.

Targeted emails garner 18x more revenue than nontargeted emails, and click-through rates for drip campaigns increase by 119%.

For example, Capilona University sent out a drip email campaign with a personalized subject line and preheader, increasing the open rate and engaging more prospective students.

Capilona University sent out a drip email campaign

Source: Capilona University

10. Implement CRO Techniques to Increase the Percentage of Prospects Who Take Desired Action

Bringing students to the university website and encouraging them to engage with content through ads and social media takes time and money.

So, when they start a process like requesting a brochure or more information about a program, we want them to finish it. It helps us achieve our goal of getting more students to enroll.

If your website is strong, you’ll need to create CTAs that are even more vocal. For example, Antioch University has implemented these subtle conversion rate optimization tactics to help prospective students take action.

Antioch University CTA example

Source: Antioch University

Moreover, prospective students might leave your website for many reasons. However, you can retarget these users by using push notifications.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is lead generation still profitable?

Yes, the lead generation business model is highly lucrative. Lead generation is profitable for companies that generate leads and businesses that need leads. Education lead generation companies make top dollar selling leads to higher education institutes. Lead generation activity allows schools to market their courses and programs to the right students.

What is the most effective lead generation strategy for higher education?

The most effective online lead generation strategy in the higher education industry is to run ads on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. High-quality landing pages can also convert website traffic into qualified leads.

How do you generate educational leads?

Generating educational leads involves various strategies to reach potential students interested in educational programs or services. Here are several effective methods:

  • Organic Traffic (SEO)
  • Linkedin Ads
  • Facebook Leads Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Youtube Ads
  • Chatbots
  • Engaging Landing Pages
  • Create Sales Funnels
  • PR
  • Students Testimonials


The education lead generation strategy involves many moving parts and must be unique to your university. When you make it easy for prospective students to engage with your university, you’re on your way to converting them into applicants.

Adapting to the latest lead generation strategies is imperative for institutions, especially those partnering with a higher ed marketing agency, to attract and engage prospective students, leveraging technology and personalized approaches.

Universities can use these different lead-generation strategies to increase visibility and generate leads. Implementing a well-designed strategy across the funnel helps attract and convert leads.

The key to connecting with prospective students is reaching them when and where they want you to. So, as you continue to develop your lead generation strategies, always keep the student at the forefront of your mind.