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13 Marketing Strategies to Reach College Students in 2023


In today's highly competitive market, companies must know how to attract the right audience to their products or services. And with the constantly evolving world of technology and social media, advertising to college students has become increasingly challenging. 

This age group has grown up in a digital era, and their expectations are constantly shifting. Therefore, companies must stay current on the latest marketing strategies to reach this unique demographic. 

With that in mind, we will delve into the best marketing tactics for engaging college students, from utilizing social media to experiential promotions.

By the end, you'll be equipped with all the tips you need to know to successfully connect with them and take your brand to the next level.

Let’s get started!


1) Create a Strong Social Media Presence

Students spend significant time on social media platforms, making them a valuable advertising tool. To create a strong social media presence that attracts younger people, try these tips:

  • Develop a social media marketing plan and consistently post relevant, engaging content to build your following;

  • Showcase your brand's personality on social media and connect with your target audience;

  • Engage with them by running polls, hosting Q&As, and sharing user-generated content;

  • Finally, track your success with social media analytics and adjust your strategy accordingly.


2) Use Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing leverages popular social media figures or influencers to promote a brand or product. With a strong following and influence among their peers, influencers can help build brand awareness and trust with undergrads.

Here are a few ways to use influencers in your advertising strategy:

Research and identifyCollaborate with influencers on sponsored content, such as blogs, vlogs, or social media posts that feature your product or service.


3) Host Events and Promotions

One excellent way to interact with undergraduates is to host events and promotions. Consider partnering with organizations or campus departments to maximize your reach. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Sponsor a campus concert or music festival;

  • Host a food truck festival or taste test event;

  • Set up a photo booth with your brand's logo for people to take pictures with;

  • Run a social media contest with a prize giveaway;

  • Host a charity fundraiser or volunteer event;

  • Offer free samples or giveaways at a high-traffic location on campus.

Hence, hosting events and promotions can create buzz and excitement around your brand while providing value to this unique demographic.


4) Partner with Local Businesses

Partnering with local businesses can be mutually beneficial for reaching collegians. By teaming up with businesses in the university town, you can tap into their established customer base and gain exposure to the undergraduate population. 

Consider collaborating on joint promotions or hosting events to increase visibility and attract people on campus. Additionally, cross-promotion through social media and pooling resources can help you reach more customers. 


5) Leverage Email Marketing

With most young people having email accounts, sending targeted and personalized emails can be a powerful way to communicate with them. Once you leverage email marketing, you can elicit engagement and conversions for your brand by developing a close relationship with students.

Here are a few tips for a successful campaign:

  • Sort your email list by interests or preferences to ensure your messages are relevant and tailored to people’s needs;

  • Craft attention-grabbing subject lines to increase open rates;

  • Provide valuable and exclusive content, such as discounts, special offers, or relevant resources, to incentivize them to engage with your emails;

  • Optimize your emails for mobile devices, as students heavily rely on smartphones for checking their emails;

  •  Incorporate compelling visuals and call-to-action buttons to encourage clicks and conversions.


6) Offer Student Discounts

University students are often on tight budgets, making discounts an attractive incentive for them to engage with your brand. Offer discounts on your products or services specifically for them, and make sure they're prominently advertised on your website, social media channels, and campus. Partnering with campus bookstores can also help spread the word about your discounts. 

By offering savings, you're attracting students’ attention and building loyalty among them, as they're more likely to stick with brands that value their financial situation.


7) Utilize Campus Advertising

Advertising on campus can be done through posters, flyers, and billboards in strategic locations such as student centers, dining halls, and dormitories. Another option is to partner with college organizations to promote your brand through their events and activities. It’s also necessary to choose safe college campuses to avoid any unpleasant situations.

Campus advertising provides a direct line to your target audience and can increase brand recognition and engagement among undergraduates. Just follow campus advertising guidelines and obtain proper approvals before launching any campaigns.


8) Develop Engaging Content

Increase your brand exposure and develop a devoted following by producing content that connects with your audience. Here are a few tips to do this:


Use humor

Youngsters love to laugh, so adding humor to your content can help grab their attention and make them more likely to engage with your brand.


Focus on trends

Stay current on the latest trends and incorporate them into your content to show that your brand keeps up with the times.


Share stories

Students love stories, especially those that are relatable and genuine. Tell engaging stories to your audience and help them understand your brand more deeply.


Use visuals

Textual content is less engaging than visual content. Use eye-catching images, videos, and infographics to make your content stand out.


Provide value

Whether it's tips for surviving finals week or career advice, provide your audience with the value they can use. This will not only make your brand more useful but will also increase the likelihood of your content being shared.


9) Provide Value with Branded Merchandise

Branded merchandise can be a powerful promotional tool when targeting those in the university. By offering merchandise that provides value and is useful in their daily lives, you can effectively promote your brand and build loyalty among this demographic. 

Consider offering items like branded notebooks, water bottles, phone accessories, or clothing. These items serve as reminders of your brand and provide value and practicality to students. 
Branded merchandise can help people form a positive relationship with your brand and increase their likelihood of engaging with your products or services.


10) Focus on Personalization

One effective way to capture the attention of your target demographic is through personalized marketing. You can create a stronger bond and increase brand loyalty by tailoring your messaging to students’ interests and needs. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Create audience segments based on things like major, location, and interests;

  • Send targeted emails and personalized recommendations;

  •  Use personalized landing pages and website content;

  • Use personalized retargeting ads to show relevant products and offers;

  • Use personalized direct mail to show targeted products and offers. 


11) Build Trust with Reviews and Testimonials

Building trust is essential for any business, and one effective way to do so is by sharing reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers. Youth relies heavily on the opinions of their peers, so showcasing positive feedback can go a long way in convincing them to try your product or service. 

Here are some ways to utilize reviews and testimonials:

  • Include client feedback on your site and social media accounts;

  • Use student testimonials in your advertisements and promotional materials;

  • Encourage happy clients to submit reviews on Yelp or Google;

  • Provide rewards for reviews, such as a discount on future purchases.


12) Take Advantage of Geotargeting

Geotargeting involves delivering content to a user based on their geographic location. This strategy is particularly effective for university promotion, as it allows you to tailor your messages to people in the same area as your business. 

Here are some ways to use geotargeting:

  • Deliver targeted social media ads to those located in or near campus;

  • Use location-based push notifications to inform students of nearby events or promotions;

  • Send email campaigns that are personalized based on their location, such as featuring events in their area or highlighting discounts at local businesses.


13) Measure Your Success with Analytics

Once you've implemented your business promotion strategies, measure their success to determine which tactics are working and which need improvement. 
Analytics can provide useful information about how the target demographic interacts with your brand. Website traffic, social media engagement conversion rates, and customer retention are important indicators to track.

Google Analytics and social media insights are powerful ways to track and analyze these metrics. Regularly reviewing your analytics will enable you to optimize your business promotional efforts and make data-driven decisions. Remember, anything you can measure, you can improve!

Final Thoughts

Targeting college students requires a unique and dynamic approach. The best marketing strategies involve deeply understanding their needs, preferences, and habits. 

College students are highly diverse and are constantly evolving in their behavior and tastes. Thus, marketers should build genuine relationships, create personalized and relevant campaigns, utilize social media and mobile devices, and offer tangible value. 

By following these effective advertising strategies, you can tap into this influential market segment and foster a lasting connection with the college student community. With the right approach, they can become loyal customers, brand advocates, and ambassadors, spreading the word about your brand and fueling its growth.

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