Higher education institutions’ target demographic is changing quickly. Millennials no longer dominate college campuses—Generation Z does. By some estimates, Generation Z—those born between 1995-2010—now numbers over 60 million, surpassing millennials by about one million.

What can higher education institutions do to adjust to this new population? And—perhaps most critically—how can administrators ensure they are effectively recruiting prospective Generation Z students, and doing so in a relevant manner? 

Known as the “instant generation,” Generation Z is the first group in society raised entirely on technology. They’re mobile-based and expect immediate answers to questions—and, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, also prioritize one-on-one communication. Higher education institutions that don’t adjust to Generation Z’s communication style may run the risk of being unable to effectively connect with them.

Fortunately, there is technology tailored to reaching Generation Z applicants. Contemporary marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms have features such as a mobile app, allowing admission teams to respond to messages quickly. Prospects’ phone numbers are also readily available, encouraging and enabling texting—Generation Z’s preferred method of communication.

CRM software also notifies admissions if an applicant shows interest, like if they visit a program’s webpage, so a staff member can reach out. And each interaction is quantitatively measured, resulting in an applicant’s “lead score.” The lead score helps recruiters comparatively weigh, assess and prioritize a group of applicants, giving recruiters insight into the “best” ones to pursue.

Now, back to our Generation Z applicants and how to best communicate with them. The list shown below provides 10 tactics to help you best connect with Generation Z—many of which directly correlate to marketing automation and CRM software. Whether you utilize CRM or not, these pointers can help you develop and nurture leads more strategically, engaging the “instant generation” in ways that resonate.

1. Use mobile and app-based technology – Generation Z is tech-savvy and on-the-go. App-based communication allows them to receive the instant feedback they crave, while multitasking multiple conversations.

2. Respond quickly – As “digital natives,” they’re used to in-the-moment responses. Promptness of reply to questions helps you compete with the many other messages they receive.

3. Text – This is by far Generation Z’s preferred communication method. It allows for timely responses that can be managed anytime, anyplace.

4. Communicate one-on-one –  Despite their emphasis on mobile technology, according to this survey, 39% of Generation Z say one-on-one communication is the most effective form. Take the time to speak with them individually—whether through text, or face-to-face.

5. Personalize as much as you can –  Attention spans are now shorter than ever, with some estimates at around 6-8 seconds per content piece. Personalization is a way to combat this, giving you the means to connect more deeply with prospects.

6. Evolve based on interests and engagement-  Gen Z expects communication to evolve depending on what they like, and how frequently they contact you. They expect you to be as savvy as they are, making good data collection all the more critical.

7. Be e-mail selective-  Less than 20% of Generation Z reports they’re likely to use e-mail for professional purposes. That doesn’t mean e-mail marketing is obsolete, but it does mean you have to be careful about what you’re communicating via e-mail, and how frequently.

8. Be authentic- As a population constantly bombarded with brands and advertisements, Generation Z prizes authenticity above else. They describe themselves as “loyal, compassionate and genuine” and expect the same in their communications.

9. Emphasize practicality- Gen Z spent their formative years in the great recession, so they tend to be frugal and outcomes-based. Focusing on practicality—like the value of a degree—can help keep prospects engaged.

10. Utilize Instagram- This is where you’ll find Generation Z on social media. They value “compelling micro-moments” that appeal to shorter attention spans and draw them in visually.

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