education video

Online video has grown into a key element for the majority of Internet users. Today’s audience is looking for content that is not only informational, but also engaging. This reins true especially for the younger audience. A recent study, conducted by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions, found that 55% of prospective students have watched videos on a college’s website.

The most important part of successful online video is to first identify who you want to reach, and how you want your message to affect them. For example, because the “buying cycle” for higher education is so long and complicated, we break it up into three sections: the research phase, consider phase, and commit phase. It is imperative to create engaging brand experiences across all stages. The following will help break down how you can utilize video to connect with students at each phase.


The Research Phase

In this phase, the most important thing is to grab their attention. Colleges and Universities that utilize online video content on their websites and YouTube can significantly improve their Google ranking and increase traffic to their site. Video is a great way to build initial attraction. Here are three types of videos you can use to connect with students in the research phase:

Educational/Tutorial Videos

These types of videos are great to create awareness and position your brand as a resource, whether that’s tips, guides, how-tos, etc. And, ‘How-to’ is one of the most common type of queries in YouTube. Try producing a how-to series based on a subject surrounding one of your areas of study. For example, if you have a strong design and development program, offer a video series on how to design and develop your own website, sponsored by your school. But be careful not to add much “sales” talk.

High-Profile Speaker/CommencementConan’s Commencement

If your school schedules a high-profile speaker, consider recording a clip and uploading it to YouTube. For example, Conan O’Brien’s commencement speech at Dartmouth has over 500,000 views. This is a great way to generate a lot of views and draw attention to your school.


Compelling, storytelling videos are perfect for generating “buzz” for your brand. Try adding comedy or a captivating emotion to your videos. Look for stories that demonstrate what is unique and different about your school. These types of videos are the best for social sharing and high view counts, making a perfect combination for drawing attention.


The Consider Phase

In the consider phase, it is important to start capturing leads for nurturing. This is where it is key to create brand validation and focus on starting to target degree specific leads. Online video is the next best thing to in-person communication and experience. It can really bring your school to life, which is important in this phase. Here are three ways to use video to nurture students in the consider phase:

Student Testimonials

Research shows that 31% of people will make a positive decision after viewing a testimonial video. Prospective students are increasingly looking online to see what other students and peers say about a school. Having students talk about why they enjoy your school so much can do wonders to convince an applicant. But it is critical to find a student who is relatable and compelling on camera, someone who is able to talk about the school with passion.

Tour of the Schoolcampus tour screen shot

Pictures of the campus are good, but a video tour is so much better. A video can truly immerse the viewer in the experience so that they feel like they are actually there. This can be a powerful marketing tool, which allows you to really focus on the most spectacular parts of the school, like the architecture, quad, or overall atmosphere.

Lectures and Classrooms

It is important to focus on degree specific content in this phase. If you have a particularly engaging professor or exciting class, consider recording it and putting in online. A prospective student may feel drawn to the school through the video in a way that could not have been achieved through plain text or images. These types of videos are a great way for students and parents to gain insight into an academic subject that may be a potential area of study.


The Commit Phase

Throughout this phase it is important to nurture your leads with segmented, targeted messaging and a proactive call to action strategy. It is also critical to remove any anxiety, answer any last minute questions, and ease potential friction in the process. Here are two types of videos that are perfect for targeting a student in the commit phase:

Informational Videos

Informational video is a great way to make the application process transparent and humanize the process, which is perfect for easing any applicant through the commit phase. Offer a series of brief informational or how-to videos on topics like the breakdown of the application process, what financial aid is available and how to obtain it, what to include in an application cover letter, or how to fill out the FASFA forms. Videos like these can really help an applicant feel comfortable with making their decision.

Targeted Faculty Storiesfaculty screen shot

Featuring faculty members with personal interviews showcasing their academic departments can help target degree specific interests and give applicants a sense of whether your school’s program is a good fit for them. This type of segmented, targeted messaging can help turn a prospective student into a decided applicant.


What’s Next?

In total, schools have uploaded 63,500 hours – or about 7 years – worth of video content onto the web. If your school is not one of them, you will rapidly fall behind. Potential students are looking to interact with your brand, and video is one of the best ways to offer that interaction.

Author: Abigail Carter

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