June 15

Enrollment Marketing Copy: The Key to Motivating Prospective Students


In enrollment marketing, it’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it. Let’s explore how to make your enrollment marketing copy powerful and attractive to new students.

Enrollment marketing copy is the center of every marketing message. 

Even if it’s just your education brand name watermarked on a vivid photo, that’s enrollment marketing copy communicating something.

Most everyone intuitively understands that enrollment marketing copy is critical when crafting ads or direct mail pieces.

But for some reason, when creating enrollment websites, copy is seen as just a way to communicate information. 

Simply communicating information is not the primary goal of enrollment marketing copy, though.

Enrollment marketing copy – whether on your website or in your brochure – should motivate your prospective student to the next step in the enrollment cycle.

Now, your copy might communicate valuable information while it motivates students through the enrollment cycle.

But if it doesn’t spark something in your prospective student to take the next step, then it’s not serving the greater purpose of your marketing strategy. 

Whether entertaining or informing, enrollment marketing copy should always be persuading.

So how do you write compelling copy for your enrollment website, landing pages, and print marketing pieces?

1. Have a next step ready for them.

If you don’t know where your prospective student needs to go, or what they should do next, how will they know? 

Mapping out your enrollment cycle or your prospective student’s “journey” is important so you always know where you’re motivating your audiences to go next.

The main goal of enrollment marketing copy is to motivate prospects through the marketing funnel presented here in this graphic.

The goal of enrollment marketing copy is to motivate prospects through the marketing funnel.

After you’ve mapped out your enrollment cycle, insert the steps prospective students should take to move to the next stage of their journey with you. 

When a student who’s unaware of your education brand comes across your ad, should they… 

  1. Contact you, 
  2. Fill out an enrollment form, or 
  3. Download content you’ve created for them by giving you their email?

I highly recommend you go for option “C”!

At this stage, you’ve given them something of value, and they’ve given you something of value. 

And an email address is more than enough to continue motivating them to take the next step.

Filling out an enrollment form or contacting you can be asking for too much at this stage in the prospective student’s journey. 

Once you have the enrollment cycle mapped, and your transitionary calls to actions identified, you can then write copy that motivates your prospective student to move ahead.

2. Learn the rules of enrollment marketing copy.

Copywriting has a long and studied history – because it’s known to be highly effective in marketing.

As a result, hundreds of workshops, training materials and courses have been developed by some talented writers. 

In fact, you can start right here with this post on my blog to begin learning about copywriting.

Unfortunately, writing compelling enrollment marketing copy just doesn’t come naturally. 

It’s a skill that must be learned through training and practice.

3. Consider their emotional journey.

Information alone does not motivate prospective students to move to the next stage in the enrollment cycle.

If you add some emotion into the mix, along with good information, you’ll have a potent recipe for good copy.

Here’s a list of questions to help you get into the right mindset.

  • What is keeping my prospective student up at night with worry?
  • How does that make them feel?
  • What do they dream of accomplishing with their life?
  • Who are the most important people to them as they make their education decisions?
  • How do they see the process of choosing a school, major, or career? 
    • Exciting? 
    • Weighty?  Or worse… 
    • Terrifying?
  • What are they afraid of messing up along the way?
  • What could they lose by getting this decision wrong?
  • What do they have to gain by making the right education decision?
  • What makes them feel like they can’t achieve their educational goals?
    • Finances?
    • Poor academic performance?
    • Confusion around the college process?

After going through this list, you start to realize that for your prospective student, the enrollment cycle is more like an emotional roller coaster than a smooth cycle.

Choosing a school, major, or career is not at its core a logical decision.

It’s an emotional decision at its center – and that’s why emotive copy is so important.

Once your enrollment marketing copy addresses their emotional concerns and excites their vision for the future, then you can get down to brass tacks.

4. Tell stories.

When it comes to visual communication like graphic design or photography, it’s easy to see if the piece is emotional or not. 

Intuitively, we recognize bland pictures and uninspiring designs.

Enrollment marketing copy should tell stories to keep readers from boredom like this bored little girl.

Tell stories in your enrollment marketing copy to keep readers from the boredom of uninspiring information.

But for some reason, we just don’t catch it as easily in our enrollment marketing copy.

One of the best ways to write emotive copy is to tell stories

This can be made easier if you have some processes in place to capture student success stories, alumni success stories, and testimonials. 

At every event, you can assign student or staff reporters to speak to alumni and students about their experiences with the school. You can record those conversations and write them up in blog posts, social media, and your print pieces. 

Testimonials are one of the quickest and most effective ways of calming fears while answering questions at the same time. 

5. Write about the benefits.

When writing website copy or blog post copy, lots of writers start by describing all the school has to offer. 

Academic programs. Degrees. Research opportunities. Notable faculty. Top-notch facilities.

These are all amazing parts of your school. 

However, to your prospective students they are simply a list of features, a list of features they’re comparing to everyone else’s list of features.

How do you get out of this feature comparison and get them to see how incredible you are?

Show them the benefits of going to your school.

Let’s say you have a unique outdoors-oriented academic program in biology. Try showing them how being outside in the elements gets them closer to the real discoveries rather than telling them about the program itself.

Write more about the benefit of your unique program than the program itself. 

Have a large assortment of degree programs available? Great!

Show your prospective student how that means freedom for them. They don’t have to be limited to cookie-cutter degrees. 

See that?

The feature is your large array of degrees. The benefit is freedom.

Always write about the benefits whenever you mention or write about a feature. 

One of the best questions to ask yourself whenever you mention a feature of your school is…


So what if we have an Olympic-sized pool on campus?

So what if we have world-renowned speakers in our lecture series?

So what if we are located on 90 acres of wilderness paradise?

What’s in it for your prospective student? How will these “features” help them assuage their fears and achieve their goals?

Once you know the answer to those questions, write about the benefits.

You might be saying all the right things in your enrollment marketing copy, but if you’re not getting the results you need, you may not be saying it right.

If you’d like more insights into how to optimize your enrollment website to motivate prospective students to go to the next stage in the enrollment cycle, contact us today.

Looking for Enrollment Marketing Content that Works?

You’re in luck! We’ve curated 25 awesome ideas inspired by top higher ed institutions across the country and put them in one handy guide: 25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content.

25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content In this brand new resource from Caylor Solutions, you’ll get…

    • 25 enrollment marketing content ideas you might never have considered before
    • Guidance on how to use each one for best results
    • Brief discussion on why they work to help you sell these ideas to your team

Get inspired.
Get enrollment results.
Get 25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content.
Download your copy today!

Featured image by Vchalup via Adobe Stock
Bored, uninspired image by markdeibertphoto via Adobe Stock

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