The next generation of personalisation in student communications

Jonathan Tinnacher, Chief Customer Officer at Unibuddy, explains how university recruitment can keep up with Generation Z’s demand for increasingly personalised content

Connecting with Generation Z students is a well established challenge. Shaped by unprecedented digital connectivity, globalism and social change, tomorrow’s university students are demanding a rapid transition from a very traditional, sometimes archaic, higher education sector.

It has presented an enormous challenge for many universities. Digital content is what engages young people, but they are very savvy to glossy marketing and often lack trust in brands. Not to mention the added challenge of avoiding negative media coverage that can come from high marketing spends or questionable ‘selling’ techniques (such as ‘conditional unconditional’ offers).

So what can universities do? Marketing across all sectors is becoming increasingly personalised, and higher education is no exception.

Highly targeted and segmented messaging is helping universities connect with their students, tell a compelling story and, ultimately, boost conversion to application, acceptance and enrolment.

Cutting through the noise: Gen Z’s demand for personalisation

This adaptation to seek out personalised information came from the digital landscape we live in today. Information is available in abundance. University websites have gone from landing pages to knowledge banks, with hundreds and sometimes thousands of pages covering course details, research, admissions information and more. Messaging must cut through the noise in a smart, targeted way.

In an era of slick advertising and glossy materials, universities are seeking to bridge the ‘authenticity’ gap.

In fact, according to a recent survey, prospective students are increasingly turning to student reviews to inform their decision about university, while their interest in rankings is waning.

The survey also found that the vast majority of undergraduate students (81%) expect a personalised response to their enquiries, and 43% want it within one day.

The need for human voices and 1-1 connections

In user surveys, every generation prefers speaking to a human – but none more so than Gen Z. Despite being digital natives, it seems like young people still seek out more real connections.

Plus, when making decisions, everyone is more reliant on peer-to-peer support than ever before. 91% of people regularly or occasionally read web reviews when deciding where to go on holiday, buy a product or even just order food. It’s no surprise that when making a big decision like where to go to university, prospective students want to hear from a real human.

Nothing is more personal than a 1-1 connection, and your personalisation efforts must include this opportunity to interact.

The solution: your current students

Every university has an often untapped resource that provides an authentic voice and a personalised response: your current students.

Over 150 higher education institutions worldwide are using Unibuddy to facilitate digital connections between prospective students and student ambassadors.

By connecting their future students with their best advocates, universities around the world are improving their lead generation and conversion. Students who used Unibuddy at Queen Mary University were 34.8% more likely to enrol than those who did not. And in the US, St John’s University found that 28% of Unibuddy users went on to deposit – higher than the 16% institutional average.

High quality personalisation is about more than just {{firstname}}, it’s about cultivating authentic, 1-1 connections that have a real impact on your students’ confidence, and your institutional conversion.


Are you harnessing the power of your current students? Learn more about the next generation of student recruitment and marketing at the 2019 Unibuddy Conference.

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