Why Your College Needs Digital Brochures

The enrollment process for many colleges is riddled with issues, causing prospective students to get frustrated and leave your website. These prospective students may go to one of your competitors that has been more intentional about optimizing their student journey experience

In Higher Ed, it can be challenging to change internal processes and to get real change pushed through. During our 20+ years in higher ed, we have secret-shopped over 200 schools; from that experience, it has become clear that one of the fastest ways your college or university can improve its enrollment experience is by creating high-quality digital brochures. 

Most of us would think the student journey is linear. Instead, a student’s enrollment journey is disjointed, with starts and stops all along the way. 

Higher Education Silos Contribute to Poor Student Experiences

Many colleges and universities break up their departments, which can create silos. As an unintended consequence of these silos, your student enrollment process can suffer.

Silos are where great prospective students’ experiences go to die.

If you can align your communications and admissions departments around the idea of delighting prospective students with your enrollment experience, you should be able to grow your enrollments even in these turbulent times without growing your budget and costs.

This is why digital brochures are so important.

Brochures Require You To Figure Out Your Programmatic Value Propositions

As a part of the brochure development process, you will need to identify and surface your programmatic and school value propositions. This is an important step in the process. 

Value propositions represent what makes your school unique and why your school or program should stand out from the competition. By identifying and implementing value propositions, your school can play to its strengths and generate more interest from potential students.

While these brochures are a labor of love, it helps to get your subject matter experts, marketing department, and heads of department talking about what makes your program special. And, sometimes, it’s nothing!

You will be surprised to find out that many schools do not put enough time into figuring out what their value props should be, so therefore, their programs do not have anything that stands out.

This initiative can help to sound the alarm that your program needs to be improved.

Examples of Value Propositions:

  • Career readiness and hands-on courses
  • Unique program features, capstones, simulations, virtual reality, etc.Job placement
  • Tuition affordability
  • Campus amenities
  • Student support (tutoring, helpdesk, etc)
  • Student body diversity and inclusion
  • Prestigious partnerships, awards, and accreditations
  • Charitable contributions and initiatives
  • Community contributions and involvement
  • Cultural priorities
  • Scholarship opportunities
  • Networking
  • Studying abroad
  • Alumni success stories
  • Career Services, Student Support, and Enrollment Advisors
  • Enrollment boxes which may include a computer and other software
  • Access to free software like Grammarly, Microsoft Office, etc.
  • Free courses

Why Brochures Are Needed

Aggressive Phone Chase

Some universities rely on lead generation from vendors and then start an aggressive phone chase with prospective students to try to get them on the phone, so they can explain the benefits of enrolling at their college or university. 

 However, many students these days want to learn more about the school at their own pace. They do not want to be sold to. 

These brochures can be a non-pressuring way for prospective students to learn more about your program without jumping on a phone call before he or she is ready to speak with someone. Most people are further along their decision process when they decide to speak with someone. Think of the last time you answered your phone for an outbound call. Were you already pretty sold on the vendor, product, or service and the phone call was there to help you answer your final questions? 

Relying on Campus Tours

Last year, 28% of students said that they did not visit any college before enrolling. 

For the class of 2022, only 45% of students said they are very likely to visit a college campus this academic year. 

If your school relies on in-person tours to do the heavy lifting in your enrollment journey, you may need to rethink your strategy as student behavior is changing.

It’s important your college creates a self-service enrollment experience for those students who desire it, and the best place to start is by utilizing digital brochures.

Instead of relying on tours, start building out more engaging self-service enrollment experiences online. 

Data supports the idea that today’s students (between Covid and the explosion of all things digital) are starting to favor a comprehensive online enrollment journey. 

And the self-service aspect of an online enrollment experience is absolutely key — today’s students want to get the job done while encountering as few hurdles as possible. 

Use your digital brochure to empower your prospective students to be able to learn more about your program and college on their own terms.

For example, 70% of people would rather choose a “Message Us” button over a “Call Us” button when looking for support. How does this tie into higher education? Prospective students don’t want to commit too much, too fast with your school. 

Give prospective students options to get the answers they need at their own pace. Filling out an application shouldn’t be your school’s main call to action; use these digital brochures as a better call to action for your prospective students.   

Develop and clearly display other low-commitment calls to action that give prospective students a chance to provide you with their email and phone number so you can begin the process of nurturing them, such as downloading a digital brochure. 

Your University Website Probably Sucks 

Many college and university websites provide a disjointed and fragmented website experience, making it almost impossible to find what he or she is looking for. You can put everything a prospective student would need to decide if your program is right for them in a digital brochure, circumventing the need for them to search through your website to find this same information. 

Your brochure can be filled with links to specific sections of your website. This way, the student can jump exactly to the section they need to visit.

You can see examples of this in the brochures we created for WCU.  For these brochures, we added links for the cost of tuition, financial aid, information sessions, etc.  

Your Programmatic Brochures Should Include:

  • Program overview (position your program in the best light) 
  • Value props for your program and university 
  • Course information 
  • Types of careers your graduates can pursue after completing your program 
  • Student and alumni testimonials
  • Student support/ career services information 
  • Program cost
  • Financial aid information 
  • Links to specific sections of your website where the student can learn more about the program
  • Start dates, application dates, and other important dates 
  • About your university 

Benefits of Creating Digital Brochures:

Leveraging Your Digital Brochures as Calls to Action

Your digital brochures can be leveraged as calls to action on your website and landing page forms. These brochures can give you something to talk about in your emails.

By leveraging your brochures as calls to action, you can give prospective students another avenue to request more information about your university. 

You will want prospective students to review your programmatic brochure before starting an application. You may be wondering why that is.

The goal isn’t for prospective students to fill out applications and then not follow through to enrollment.  Often students fill out applications because they do not know another way to get additional information about the program. They are using these applications as ways to learn more about your school and program. 

Even though most universities and colleges push prospective students to apply as a first step, we recommend this to become a last step. 

When universities push students to apply first, your enrollment yield is lower than it needs to be, and this process takes up your valuable human resources. You do not want your team to review applications for those students who do not intend to start.

We want the brochures to help a student fall in love with your program! Or decide this isn’t the right program for them and not fill out an application.

Your program isn’t right for everyone. It’s better to flush this out sooner for your university and for prospective students.

Leverage Digital Brochures in All That You Do

You took the time to craft a perfect brochure from your program, don’t let this work go to waste! Offer these brochures to prospective students in several locations to get them in front of as many viewers as possible.

You will want to have your brochures accessible from your thank you pages, which is the page someone receives after filling out your form. You will also want your brochures to be accessible from your email sequence.

Digital Brochures Provide You With More Content to Repurposed

You have put in so much effort to create epic brochures; now it’s time to leverage and amplify this effort! 

When you create a fantastic asset like a brochure, you should get the most out of it. Many people tend to set it and forget it when it comes to assets like these. 

In reality, you should find ways to leverage your content in as many ways as possible. Not only does this get the information in front of as many eyes as possible, but it also justifies the time and effort you spent creating these beautiful brochures.

Ways to Repurpose Your Brochure Content:

  • Video content
  • Social media carousel posts
  • New email nurtures as you speak to different features and benefits in each of your emails.
  • Website content
  • Blog posts

In-Person Events

As a university, you will likely host in-person events for prospective students. These digital brochures can easily be printed and distributed to students to learn more about your program during the event. 

Create QR codes that link to your brochures, allowing students to quickly view and save any necessary information directly to their phones! Add QR codes to retractable banners or posters to get prospective students to easily access your digital brochures.

Staff Training

Use these brochures to help train your staff on the benefits of your program, and why someone would want to enroll. If you have an admissions staff, leverage these brochures to provide them with programmatic training, and access to send these brochures to prospective students. 

When a new employee joins your team, it can usually take time for them to get familiar with your programs. These brochures can be used to easily educate your new staff members about your programs, allowing them to quickly become experts on all your programs. 

Simply add these brochures to your onboarding materials and allow your staff to learn more about your programmatic value props and why a prospective student would want to enroll in the progarm.  

Ensure everyone internally has access to these brochures!

These brochures can be a great response to the turnover happening in Admissions departments all across the country. 

Open House Slide Deck

Virtual open houses are an excellent way to generate interest and provide more information to prospective students. However, if you can’t make the information sessions interesting and exciting, your participants may lose interest in your school as a result. 

Your job is to make these information sessions/open houses more enjoyable! 

Use the content and design elements from your digital brochures for your open-house slide deck. Most virtual open houses are sooo dry! They don’t need to be, but sadly most are BORING. By using some of your newly designed content, your slides will be much more visually appealing to students, and you can be confident that you accurately showcased your program and school value props.

In Summary

Digital Brochures are well worth the time and effort you spend on them. 

Not only are they resources you can share with your prospective students, but they can provide incredible value to your university, both internally and externally. 

If you’re putting in the effort to create great performing brochures, you should proudly use them in every way you can. Use the tips from this article to get the most out of your digital brochures!

Ellison Ellery is Here to Help!

Ellison Ellery is a digital marketing firm that works with universities to grow its brand to reach new audiences to increase enrollments. Our team consists of experts in the fields of strategy, demand generation, graphic design, SEO, content writing, and paid media – and higher ed is our specialty!

Our mission is to delve into your story and learn just what it is that makes your school special. By understanding your unique positions and goals, we will work to formulate a winning strategy that puts your students first!
If you’re looking for a company to help expand your enrollment, build your online presence, and create seamless digital experiences, contact us for a free marketing assessment today!

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Picture of Renee Seltzer

Renee Seltzer

Renee Seltzer is founder and CEO of Ellison Ellery Marketing & Growth Agency and has spent over 20 years helping companies grow their revenue. As a cross-functional marketing executive with extensive experience crafting messaging that compels and campaigns that convert, Renee understands marketing at its core and can deliver actionable solutions for every marketing or sales hang-up.

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