Digital Marketing

Top 5 Recruitment Strategies to Reach Students This Holiday Season

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When considering how your prospective students will be spending their time over the holidays, activities like quality time with family and friends, meal sharing, traveling, and gift giving likely come to mind. One activity those students are most likely to be doing is spending time on their phones and tablets. During this time, it’s vital your institution considers valuable opportunities to stay connected digitally with your students to stay top of mind. Here are our top five strategies for how to spend the holidays with your students:

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1. Solidify—or Start—Your Social Media Video Strategy

With a high school student in my home, I know firsthand how much time Gen Z spends interacting with friends and viewing media content on popular apps like TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. When it comes to content, video is king! Take advantage of prospective students’ downtime— making yourself relevant and memorable—by running video ads on TikTok and Snapchat. If you don't have videos ready to launch, remember we've got you covered. Don’t overthink your creative; this video is a simple yet effective way to reach students and their households.  

  Pro Tip: Not ready for a TikTok or YouTube channel? You can still run ads on these platforms without having an account. Schedule some time with us via the link below to chat about this more.

2. Advertise on Streaming Services

We all know that time away from the classroom means more time online—especially during the colder fall and winter months. As an effective digital marketer, we always need to consider reaching students where they are most active and most comfortable. This holiday season, consider running ads on some of the world's most popular streaming services like Spotify, Hulu, AppleTV, and more.

Pro Tip: Don't have the creative resources to develop ads ahead of the holiday season? The Encoura Digital Solutions team will work with you to design and develop your streaming audio and tv spots, included as part of your partnership. Here’s just one example of a short and effective video campaign. 

3. Publish Unfiltered and Authentic Content

Today's Gen Z student highly values authenticity and trustworthiness. Learning about a college or university from a current student is far more believable than from a paid actor or an adult. For that reason, it is critical to involve your current students in your marketing. Consider running a 'What I am thankful for this holiday season?" promotion that leverages your own students. Incentivize current students to submit raw and unfiltered videos (think 5 to 15 seconds in length) sharing what they are most thankful for about their school. 

Pro Tip: Branding is key here. Use your branding in each video, include a call to action, and then use those videos on TikTok, Snapchat, or YouTube. These types of “raw” videos give your school an authentic feel that will resonate with today's Gen Z students.

4. Utilize Residential Targeting

One of the most popular digital tactics to reach today's high school students is geofencing top feeder schools in your area or desired markets. That being said, this tactic isn't quite as effective if there aren't students in high schools over the holidays to see those ads! With Encoura's Residential Targeting solution, you can simply shift those impressions to reach students in their homes. 

What makes this strategy extremely effective is that your brand will not only reach students, but will also be visible to their parents/guardians and siblings. The holiday break is a critical time in the higher education recruitment cycle as application season is a hot topic at the dinner table. 

Pro Tip: Knowing that prospective students will be asked about college during the holiday season, residential targeting can help you be part of those family conversations by showcasing students your institutional values, brand tradition, and how they can get involved on your campus.

5. Geofence Big Box Stores

Advertise to students and their parents/guardians while they are shopping or working at brick and mortar stores. Digitally wrap a tight bow around Target, Best Buy, Walmart, GameStop, etc. to engage with students when it matters most and remind them that one of the greatest gifts of all is higher education. Use holiday and New Year’s resolution messaging to showcase institutional empathy, encouragement, comedy, and more that will help students feel connected to your school. 

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to always use strong calls to action with countdowns or deadlines to encourage students to apply, take advantage of scholarships, or set up a visit.


Staying connected to your students over the holidays deepens their trust in your institution and drives applications. Apply some or all of these top recruitment strategies so that you don’t miss out on this ideal time to stay engaged with your prospective students and their families. With the holidays right around the corner, the Encoura Digital Solutions team can help your institution creatively bridge the online to offline gap by helping to tell your story to your best-fit potential students. Ready to connect? We’re here to help. 

Director, Advertising Operations at Encoura
Contact Stephen | Learn More About Digital Solutions from Encoura


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