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How to Build Higher Education Student Persona to Increase Enrollment Conversions?

Similar to general buyer personas for any other product or service, enrollment marketers also require the building of higher education student persona to better understand the behaviors of different groups. In the simplest of terms, a buyer persona is a basic profile of your ideal customers. 

Personas provide enrollment marketers with unique attributes, behaviors, and preferences of students from different demographics. This macro view of audiences allows the marketer to identify audiences by stage of the sales funnel and understand their requirements. 

A 2014 ITSMA research by Julie Schwartz discovered that 82% of marketers who build buyer personas improve their value proposition more effectively, reaching out to ideal customers for their products or services. 

Personalized and segmented digital advertising performed after building university student personas has also been identified to be more effective than executing general ads about enrollment programs for high education institutions. 

Singlegrain mentions in their interesting infographic(HubSpot Research Data) that email campaigns personalized in accordance to persons have a 14% higher click rate, and 10% higher conversion rate, in addition to driving 18 times more revenue than cold email campaigns. Well here's our guide for Higher Education Marketing Trends for 2022.

Our guide focuses on the importance of building higher education student persona, how to build buyer personas, marketing tips for different student personas, and offers some great higher education student persona examples.  

student personas

What are Student Personas?

The student personas are a basic profile of a student looking to purchase an educational service. 

The student persona is therefore the equal of a buyer persona for enrollment marketers and is based on the data insights extracted through marketing research. Each type of student persona has differing motivators, behavioral characteristics, pain points, and communication touchpoints. 

College or higher education student persona can be categorized by several factors including higher education level, areas of interest, geographic locations, household income levels, and many other demographics. Once personas are created, marketers can strategically develop personalized campaigns for every category.   

Persona Template for High School Student 

NameHigh School Samantha
StorySamantha is a 19-year-old high school student looking to begin her search for a college education. Her usual day includes school, homework, socializing, and looking for part-time jobs. Samantha enjoys playing football at school and is determined to find her future in teaching. 
Her major concerns are looking for a college near home and having enough finance to get through college. 
Goals Finish high school with good if not great grades Getting selected by her favored colleges Joining a college where she makes new friends as she learnsChoosing the perfect teaching school roadmap for her life ahead 
ChallengesSeek funding for her education Finding the perfect course to accelerate her teaching career Making the right decision about her college education 
Influencers Parents, friends, siblings, student counselor 
Platforms Social media College websites Student counselors Admission officers 
Location San Francisco, California 
Age 19 Years 
Education High School Certificate 
Family Parents and 2 Older Siblings 
Job (s)Babysitting 
HobbiesFootball, Socializing, Music, Movies, and Traveling  

Higher Education Student Persona: What Does it Include? 

Generally, university student personas include personalized characteristics of audiences to properly categorize and evaluate them. 

By building an ideal personality, enrollment marketing teams are able to create targeted marketing material tailored for each audience in addition to identifying their preferred social platforms. 

Here are some interesting characteristics that build up a buyer person for higher education institutions.

  • Name

Each ideal college student persona is given a basic identifier and it is always recommended to create multiple ones for different genders.. 

  • Demographics (Age, Location, Gender)

A buyer persona can include detailed characteristics including age, gender, location, income, household income, and others to make them more reliable. 

  • Educational background

Educational background will be a priority characteristic of the audience since we are discussing enrollment marketing personas. Identifying the last educational achievement can allow marketers to easily engage audiences while providing them with a variety of areas of interest for higher studies. 

  • Goals, and career aspirations

The goals and aspirations of students differ depending on many factors including the influence of parents, peers, friends, and teachers. Identifying the motivations of students can result in building ideal student personas that deliver better conversions. 

  • Challenges (financial barriers or time constraints)

Evaluating the challenges faced by certain personas is essential. Marketers strategically engage personas that face challenges with interesting ideas like scholarships and loans from educational institutions. 

  • Student Journey

By gauging the stage of the customer journey, marketing teams can identify qualified personas for each stage of the sales funnel. There are those who will immediately look to apply, while others will need more information about the university, its costs, and living standards. 

How to Create Higher Education Student Persona for Marketing? 

Building a higher education student persona is a complex but engaging task for marketers since they identify highly personalized characteristics of their audiences. Usually, this process requires four necessary stages to accomplish, namely, a quantitative analysis, a qualitative analysis, drafting the persona, and socializing the persona.  

Quantitative Analysis 

Gathering data about target personas provides brilliant insight into the lives and minds of students looking to better their careers. Marketers can invest in student persona surveys for selected groups of students to extract as much primary data as possible. 

This is usually where basic demographics including age, gender, location, language, interests, learning options, and areas of interest are identified. This part of the quantitative analysis focuses on gathering data from all sources, including existing databases. Interviewing admissions officers, student counselors, and marketing teams can also yield great insight about different student personalities. 

Admission managers can provide important insights about the questions students ask, the information they have regarding courses, their feedback, and constraints. Similarly, student counselors can proactively identify student types, the stage of the customer journey, challenges faced, and behaviors of different student groups.  

Marketing teams can readily identify crucial factors including student demographics, social activity, interests in the type of content, and other characteristics that have been identified through surveys. The quantitative analysis ends once all relevant data has been collected for analysis.

Qualitative Analysis 

The qualitative analysis is more focused on knowing your students and how your courses will provide them with better careers and lives. This is where educational institutions develop their value proposition, and how their courses will accelerate the careers of all prospect personas.  

The first step of the qualitative analysis is by interviewing students directly related to their career paths, aspirations, and study programs they are interested in. These are usually structured interviews that require measurable and specific questionnaires to be prepared in advance. 

Another important way is to send out outreach emails to existing students and alumni to request their feedback and experiences. This enables colleges to consistently improve their enrollment processes and course structures to make them more valuable to students. 

The qualitative analysis provides education providers the opportunity to:

  • Identify student career goals 
  • Understand their pain points 
  • Identify how courses can excel in student careers
  • The effectiveness of their study programs 
  • Challenges faced by students 
  • Recognize the intrinsic goals of graduates 
  • Builds solutions demanded by students 

Drafting the Persona

Once all data is collected and analyzed, it's finally time to build your student personas. Having a data worksheet in excel can help sort and analyze data. 

The process begins by looking at the similarities in the goals and challenges identified by the surveys, interviews, and research. Data is segmented by age or another primary characteristic and filtered to provide a clearer picture. 

This is the stage where we create Negative Student Personas - the demographic that will not convert and require less effort and no investment of resources. Enrollment marketers must also include parents' personas since they are involved with the decision-making process for their children. 

The next step is to create Non-Traditional Students Personas - these are those for working professionals, working parents, and students seeking different careers, and similar patterns. Once these personas are ready, marketers must then transform their data into characters and their lives into stories. 

We do this for example as follows, John Davis is a 24-year-old business college graduate living just outside San Francisco working part-time as a bartender in the city earning minimum wage at his job. He aspires to be a marketing professional with a peculiar interest in technology startups.  

He has previously looked at MBA courses and digital marketing diplomas on various university websites where he has also filled out survey forms. John aspires to work for a fortune 500 company as a branding professional to learn from the greats of the business in the US. 

Persona Template for University Student 

NameGarry the Graduate 
StoryGarry is a business management graduate currently working as a business development officer in New York. He aims to take the next step in his career by fueling it with an MBA. 
Gary lives with his parents in Newark, NJ and aspires to buy his own home one day. He enjoys going out with colleagues and taking long runs around the park. His biggest challenge is securing funding for his MBS, while he aims to join one of the top business schools away from home. 
Goals Develop business knowledge and skills Explore new careers Enhance salary potential 
ChallengesSeek funding sources for his MBAChoose a top-ranked school closer to home to balance his work-life routine once studies begin  
Influencers Parents, friends, peers, colleagues, admission officers  
Platforms Social media College websites Student counselors Admission officers Brochures 
Location New York 
Age 20-35 Years 
Education Undergraduate Degree 
Family Parents
Job (s)Business Development Officer 
HobbiesJogging, Socializing, Music, Dogs 

Socializing the Persona

Once all the personas are ready it is finally time to educate your enrollment and marketing teams about these essential discoveries. 

The ideal way to begin is by documenting and printing out these personas for your teams to clearly familiarize themselves with their target audiences. Once the marketing teams have their ideal customer profiles, they can create more engaging content and place more relevant ads to attract these audiences. 

It is recommended to organize official training sessions for all admission officers, counselors, and marketing teams to ensure everyone is on board with the persona-based initiative. Through careful discussions and debates, teams can come together to identify sub-niches and other target personas.  

Student Persona: How to use your Buyer Persona to improve Marketing Efforts?

Benefits of Building Student Personas for Higher Education Institutions 

There are several benefits of creating student personas when planning enrollment marketing campaigns that professionals and academics agree on. Let's quickly go over them to understand the true significance of building these personas for more tailored education marketing.

Understand Your Audiences Better

The first and possibly most important benefit of creating personas for students is that marketers learn about their interests, behaviors, interactions with institutions, motivations to study, and other pain points that can affect their applications. Marketers can develop multiple content magnets, personalized to address the pain points and motivations of each categorized persona. 

Improved Lead Quality 

With more refined traffic now going through the sales funnel, marketers can find more qualified and quality leads to convert. Marketers can approach leads on their preferred platforms and mediums resulting in better quality conversions. 

Learn How Audiences Communicate & Engage with Others 

Student personas identify which platforms students use, where they research higher education courses, which influencers they get insight from, and what conversations they build with others. 

It is a great idea to approach prospects on their preferred platforms and mediums, with the perfect personalized marketing message. For some this can be emailed, for others, it can be a creative social media post that highlights the excellence of joining a higher education course. 

Better Analytics & Data Insights 

A superb benefit of developing university student personas is their ability to provide rich representative data from even a small group. Marketers and business managers can easily take the characteristics of this representative sample to make more informed decisions. 

Counselors can focus more time on groups that are more likely to enroll, and nurture others for future conversions. Marketing strategies can be improved based on performing content types allowing enrollment officers to maximize the ROI of their efforts based on real-time data. 

Identify New Demands and Improvements to The Process 

Last but not least, developing ideal college or higher education student persona not only improves lead quality but also allows institutions to improve their business and marketing strategies. 

Student personas can highlight improvements to the onboarding and marketing processes, making delivery and content even more receptive to audiences. Similarly, strategic decisions like new courses and facilities can be extracted from real-time student insights and interviews.   

Reduce Marketing Costs 

Having defined and categorized personas can have a significant impact on the costs of marketing including both inbound and paid activities. With a more defined audience type marketing teams can deliver campaigns faster, offer more value in content, and be more specific with their strategies for every persona. 

Similarly, with clearer demographics, paid marketers can be more precise and develop more engaging ads with a possibly lower cost per click. 

Paid Campaigns

In a recent blog, Stephen Zoeller identified that almost 83% of B2B marketers are planning to use personas to make their efforts more efficient. 

Personas can make ad targeting more geo-specific allowing enrollment marketers to target audiences using the Google Ads Manager. The results of these geo-targeted campaigns can then be measured through Google Analytics. 

Buyer personas allow paid marketers to have precise keywords to target, helping them reach audiences with the relevant pain points. 

Content Marketing ( blogs, newsletters, social media)

Identifying student personas allows enrollment marketing teams to discover what type of content each individual persona enjoys. For young adults videos are popular, those over 30 like to read from certified sources, and teenagers enjoy micro content like Instagram or TikTok.  

As marketers learn more about their personas they can create unique, valuable, engaging, and relevant content for students. They can develop multiple content types to ensure wider reach and a solution for every persona in the sales funnel. 

Persona-based marketing also improves email campaign success. By targeting the right audiences research has proved better click rates, conversions, and engagement through personalized emails.  

Improve Landing Pages

Tracking the behavior of different personas on the website and its landing pages can highlight the stage of the customer journey and the interest of audiences. Once personas are defined marketers can make strategic decisions about CTAs, navigation, UI & UX, contact pages, etc. to make the student onboarding much simpler. 

Improve conversion rates & Enrollment funnels for Higher Education Student Persona

Identifying the relevant personas and removing the negative personas allows marketers to significantly improve conversions. By simply removing the negative personas, teams can focus their efforts on the more ideal leads without having to waste man-hours or resources. 

This then makes it even simpler for enrollment marketers to place students in various parts of the sales funnel. They can nurture leads, create awareness, convert or provide further education to improve lead quality. 

Improve Enrollment Marketing Campaigns

Student personas can be extremely helpful in improving entire enrollment marketing campaigns simply by providing accurate audience characteristics. By knowing the audience's pain points and aspirations, marketers can communicate campaigns with the right tone and messages. 

As we discussed above, personas enable marketing teams to create more engaging content from blogs, videos, and social posts to emails. The analysis of content becomes simpler and immediately allows marketers to think if they need to improve. 

Since higher education student persona offers common habits and interests, it is a great way for marketers to interest them with added offers like gym, sports, access to town & markets, job opportunities, and other incentives. 

As we discussed before in the first heading, personas allow marketers more geo-specific ad targeting making it simpler for paid marketers to deliver ads to relevant audiences in the relevant location. 

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.