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Higher Education Lead Generation

Nowadays, students applying for higher education programs expect a personalized experience when they first interact with any educational institute. Generic advertising campaigns and simple application landing pages are no longer enough to attract students. 
Higher education institutes need to bring in new students every year to keep their enrollment numbers up, which is exactly why lead generation is a massive challenge for marketers working in the higher ed industry.

That being said, lead gen for higher education is competitive, fierce, and challenging. It’s difficult for schools, colleges, and universities to stand out against their competitors.
To help you compete in the extremely challenging higher education landscape and attract the best candidates, we’ve compiled a list of the 6 best higher education lead generation strategies that your higher education institution can start implementing today.
In this guide, we’ll look into the following strategies:

  1. Explore lead generation ads across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social channels. 
  2. Share student testimonials for social proof.
  3. Create highly engaging landing pages.
  4. Utilize sophisticated higher education chatbots for lead gen.
  5. Play with your higher education lead generation ad copies
  6. Create a lookalike audience and retarget students for a higher conversion rate through lead gen for higher ed.

In case you don’t have the resources to carry out your own lead generation campaign, let us help you. Orion’s performance marketing team can help you increase your application numbers, enrollment numbers, student inquiries, and brand awareness.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get started and see how lead generation in the education industry is done the right way.

Higher Education Lead Generation Strategies

As we mentioned earlier, lead generation in the higher education industry is tough. But there are certain strategies you can use to get more relevant leads. 
Let’s go through some of those strategies now, shall we?

1. Explore lead generation ads across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social channels

If we say that social media is the most relevant channel for ads nowadays, we won’t be wrong.

More than 3.6 billion people use social media worldwide. And this number is expected to increase to 4.41 billion by 2025.

‍Due to the sheer number of active social media users, many higher education institutes use social media ads for lead generation. By making it convenient for students to submit their details directly to your ad, you can improve your conversion rates significantly.
When it comes to making the lead generation process a hassle-free experience, it’s all about saving the time of interested students.

This is where lead ads come in handy - more specifically, social media lead ads.
Lead ads are offered by pretty much all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
With Facebook lead ads, for example, the user name and email of interested students get automatically populated without having for them to type everything down manually. This makes it extremely fast and easy for new students to submit their inquiries.

Facebook lead ads

Facebook lead ads can streamline your lead generation process. Instead of traditionally redirecting prospective students to a landing page, your lead ad will pop and prompt students to submit their contact information. You can then pass along the information about interested leads directly to your admissions department. 
Here’s an example of a Facebook lead ad in action from Johns Hopkins University:

When creating a Facebook lead ad, make sure your target audience is interested in the courses that you’re advertising. This way, you’ll only generate the highest quality leads. Otherwise, you’ll end up with irrelevant leads and a whole lot of wasted ad budget.

LinkedIn lead ads

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms allows advertisers to incorporate a form in their ad that is already filled with users’ information. The information is pulled directly from the user’s profiles on LinkedIn. Lead ads improve user experience by keeping the users on LinkedIn, rather than forcefully redirecting them to your website.

When a user clicks on your lead ad, a pre-filled form with the user’s information pops up. All the user needs to do is confirm that the information is correct and hit submit. Then, whatever information you incorporated in your LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, will get forwarded to you. 
Here is an example of a LinkedIn Lead Gen Ad:

Twitter lead ads

Similar to Facebook lead ads and LinkedIn lead ads, Twitter Lead Gen Cards display a customizable CTA - call to action that allows you to attract prospects through an enticing custom message.

Lead Gen Cards allow you to create a custom offer with a CTA. When any prospecting student clicks on your ad offer, Twitter will ask the user for their permission to hand over their Twitter handle, name, and email address to you. 
If the individual agrees, their data will get stored and then they’ll be redirected to a landing page of your choice.

Here is an example of a Lead Gen Cards:

2. Share student testimonials for social proof

How do we purchase anything that we haven’t used before?

We ask our friends and family about it, right? Get their reviews before we make up our minds. 
The same applies when students want to join a school, college, or university for higher education. Reading the reviews of other students makes it easy for them to make their decision. 
Even though everyone has their own preferences, we all like to first research educational institutions that we’re interested in.

Keeping this in mind, you’ll need to rely on genuine student testimonials and share them through your social media channels to get prospective students to show interest in your educational institution. Social proof should be the backbone of your recruitment strategy.
You’ll need to boast about the number of student reviews your educational institution has and share testimonials of people who are satisfied with your school.

‍In addition to that, you should highlight your success stories in the form of blogs. Talk about the goals of your prospective students and make it relatable for them. This will help you attract more students to your higher education institution.
After all, if potential students see what other students have achieved after graduating from your school, they’ll also want to sign up.

3. Create highly engaging landing pages

A landing page is any page on your website that a user gets redirected to when they click on a hyperlink from some other webpage. Landing pages are very common in paid marketing to make sure that whoever clicks on an ad, gets redirected to a specific page on a website.

So, if you create an ad for your college or university, you wouldn’t want your visitors to get redirected to a page where you’ve covered some random blog. Instead, you’d want them to get redirected to a landing page talking about admissions and the programs your school offers. 
A custom landing page will ensure your leads get directed towards a relevant page on your website that provides a solution to their needs.Here’s another example:

‍If someone is searching for undergraduate degree programs, they won’t be interested in learning about Ph.D. programs. A landing page basically makes sure that web searchers end up at the right spot on your website. Instead of rummaging through irrelevant pages, they will be able to quickly find relevant information.
Here’s what a high-quality landing page looks like:

4. Utilize sophisticated higher education chatbots for lead gen

In the age of technology, no one likes to wait. People want instant answers. This is why chatbots are so widely used in the higher education industry. Believe it not, there are sophisticated chatbots out there that can effectively not only attract students but also convert them into targeted qualified leads. The reason why chatbots are so effective is that they can offer crucial information to your prospects within seconds, 24/7. Gone are the days when your prospects would have to wait for a specific time to get in touch with you. 

Before registering in your school’s program, prospective students would need answers to their queries related to the contents of your course, the duration of your program, fee structure, accommodation, and much more.

Although all this information may be available on your website and easy to find, a lot of people prefer directly asking questions. But answering questions of hundreds, maybe thousands of prospects can be an impossible task for your admissions department. This is where chatbots can make this process fast and streamlined. 

Chatbots can be programmed with automated responses, providing answers to common questions instantaneously. Prospects won’t have to wait to get their answers. The more data you feed to your chatbot, the better it will be able to accommodate every stage of your student’s life cycle. Higher ed chatbots can build a knowledge base about your educational institute and can enable you to timely identify trends through their built-in analytics feature.
Here are some of the top chatbot platforms used in the higher education industry:

  • Amazon’s QnABot
  • IBM’s Watson
  • HubSpot’s HubBot
  • Mongoose Harmony

5. Play with your higher education lead generation ad copies

Creating ad copies is something every marketer working on a paid marketing campaign knows how to do. However, one mistake that most marketers make is considering all the industries the same and applying the same set of paid advertising strategies for different businesses. The education industry varies drastically from other industries. Therefore, it must be treated differently.
You’ll need to create highly optimized ad copies to attract leads. The more focused and optimized your ad copy is, the more likely you’ll be to get prospective students to click your ad.  Your ad copy must:

  • Be relevant to the program your educational institute offers.
  • Should offer important information such as the location of your campus.
  • It must make it clear that you are an educational institution and not a course that users can download.

Your ad copies must be precise and clear. The reason why we are emphasizing this is that when advertising in the education industry, you’ll come across a lot of search queries related to downloadable courses. Especially after COVID created a massive surge in the e-Learning industry, more and more students are looking for courses that they can download. However, since you likely own a higher education institution or are someone responsible for marketing a college or university, you’d only want to gear your ads towards individuals looking to enroll in your higher education institute.

‍If your ads are not optimized properly and are not targeting the right audience, you can end up with irrelevant traffic and irrelevant leads that can waste your time and ad budget. 
On the other hand, if you create optimal ad copies, you will not only be able to increase the effectiveness of your ads but will also be able to save your ad budget which you then spend on highly converting keywords.
Here’s an example of an optimal higher education ad copy:

Why is the above-mentioned ad copy considered “Optimal”? Well, it is because:

  • It mentions the name of the school
  • It mentions that they’re now enrolling students
  • It mentions that they offer “Military Benefits”
  • It mentions that offer both online and on-campus music production degrees
  • It mentions their institute location - “Hollywood”

This ad copy covers all the basic information a prospective student may need to click on the ad. 

Create a lookalike audience and retarget students for a higher conversion rate through lead gen for higher ed

If you want to attract more students similar to those you already have, Lookalike audiences is the way to go. Lookalike Audience is created using any existing audience. Facebook for example lets you create lookalike audiences. You just need to provide Using the data of your existing students, Facebook can create a new list of students to target having the same demographic, interests, characteristics, and behaviors. In addition to using a lookalike audience to get more leads, you can also use retargeting to make sure no leads go to waste. 

‍Why retargeting is important? Well, this may sound shocking to you, but 95% of all visitors don’t convert the first time they click on an ad. Retargeting is a marketing tactic where you will show your ads multiple times to users who have already visited your website or people who have already seen your ads. Retargeting is a powerful marketing strategy that can significantly increase your conversion rate. For example, Facebook retargeting ads get thrice as much engagement compared to regular Facebook Ads.

‍When retargeting prospective students, you’ll need to offer them some special incentives. For example, a discount offer can work as a gentle nudge to get them to make up their mind.
One thing to keep in mind when retargeting is that you don’t want to overdo it. A continuous retargeting campaign can not only significantly consume your ad budget, but can also annoy your audience. Based on stats, leads seeing your ads 7 to 12 times within the duration of a month are likely to convert. So, find that sweet spot and don’t overdo it.

Example of Lead Generation for Universities and Colleges

Facebook and Instagram are two of the most vital platforms for students to make their minds about a potential college or university that they want to join. That is why lead ads on Facebook and Instagram are highly effective when it comes to generating student leads. As we mentioned earlier, lead ads on Facebook and Instagram are already filled with the user's personal information, making the registration process extremely fast and convenient.

‍Here’s a lead ad example from The University of New South Wales:

Here’s another lead ad example:

The above example of a lead generation ad is very comprehensive. If we dissect it, you can see that they’ve clearly mentioned:

  • The date when their classes will begin and end.
  • They’ve mentioned that their classes will be online.
  • They’ve mentioned what grade they’re offering admissions for.
  • They’ve mentioned what courses they’ll be teaching.

And at the very bottom left, they’ve added a “Book Now” CTA where prospective students can register and join their summer classes.


Is lead generation still profitable?

Yes, the lead generation business model is highly lucrative. Lead generation is not only profitable for companies that generate leads, but also for other business that needs 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. Setting up high-quality landing pages can also effectively convert website traffic into qualified leads.

How do you generate educational leads?

You can generate more leads for your educational institute by taking advantage of social media ads, highly engaging content, email marketing, and chatbots.

Work with Orion - The best higher education lead generation agency

At Orion, we understand how painstaking it can be to generate targeted leads, especially for colleges, universities, and higher education institutions. 
Think Orion’s lead generation experts know exactly what strategies to leverage to capture new leads for your higher education institution.
Let us do all the hard work.
Sit back and relax while we get you more enrollment and more targeted students for your higher education institute.

Manno Notermans

Manno is a wanderer of the world looking to make an impact and change the world for the better. He has over 10 years of experience working in various marketing positions. Manno’s main focus the past few years has been accelerating the growth of businesses, increasing revenue, and profit with out-of-box creative ideas and implementations.