Understanding your students and their stories through data

4 min read

The student audience is changing and evolving throughout the US and, for student marketers, it’s important to follow the trends in order to inform your marketing strategies. But do you know how to collect the right data? And how should the results affect your advertising strategy? Fear not, in this blog, we bring you useful insights from our senior data scientist that will help boost your student marketing. 

Gender, ethnicity and age

The student demographic has seen some significant shifts in the past years, and it is particularly useful to consider gender, ethnicity and age, to make sure your advertising truly reflects your student audience. 

In 2019, six in 10 students were female. There has been a steady decrease over time in male students attending universities, with female students remaining consistent. Fifty years ago, 58 percent of US college students were men. Today, the share of college-educated women in the US workforce has passed the share of college-educated men. Even now, there are programmes to nudge more women into traditionally male-dominated fields such as engineering and computer science, threatening to push the gender ratio even further out of whack. 

There has also been a change in the age of college students, with a shift towards the under 18 population growing steadily over time. This is worth bearing in mind when thinking about what courses to offer your younger students, and also what advertising channels to use to reach an even younger audience.  

The ethnicity of the student audience is also evolving, with significant growth in the Hispanic population attending university. At the same time, the numbers of white students attending university are dropping off significantly. 

So, what do we do with all this information? How does this translate into an advertising strategy that sees results? From our research, we know that seven in 10 students are more likely to buy from brands that represent them, so, if they can picture themselves in your institution, then you’re looking at increased applications. Make sure your brand truly represents your student audience on your website, in societies and on your social media, and you’ll have a winning strategy. 

The other key takeaway is to make sure you're reaching your students in the right places. With an increasingly young student body, your strategy needs to reflect this. For instance, did you know there are now 100 million+ US 16-25 year olds flocking to TikTok? If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our guide to creating the ultimate TikTok strategy

Looking to the future 

Between 2015 and 2019 there was a 2.1% drop off in the student audience, which then slowed between 2018-2019. Hopefully, this trend will continue into the future. But what else can we expect for the world of student marketing from looking at the data?

As across the rest of the world, there is a significant increase in the popularity of distance learning in the US. Whether doing some, or the entirety, of the course online, even before the pandemic students were warming to the idea of remote learning. Over the coming years, this interest will continue to grow significantly due to the Covid-19 effect, where students have come to embrace and actively seek out online and blended learning. 

Inevitably, this has accelerated institutions' drive and motivation to move towards a digital-first approach. This is a great opportunity for education providers to be brave and reinvest budgets in innovative new approaches

One thing is clear: understanding your demographic is vital for setting the right marketing strategies and making the gains you need in this competitive landscape. With the student audience in a constant state of evolution throughout the US, knowing how to look for and understand the right data is key. 

If you would like to speak to one of our experts at Net Natives for more data insights and help planning your advertising strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch. And to dive deeper into data, catch up with the on-demand session where we cover even more data points.

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