Why Student Testimonials are Important for Higher Education & How to Gather Them
“One way for students to get reassurance is through hearing about the experience of others through student testimonials.”
Why Are Testimonials Important in Higher Education?
When a potential student is pursuing higher education, they are making the most crucial decision of their future careers. There are many different aspects of choosing a city, school, and program that may affect their ultimate decision.
For undergraduates, student life is very important; the atmosphere, campus and social life are major selling points. For graduate students, specific programs and networking opportunities become the main focus to enhance their careers.
When looking to encourage students to consider your institution, there are plenty of things you can highlight across your website and platforms, like your school values, what you offer, and so on. But what truly creates a deeper connection is when potential students learn about your school directly from the source through testimonials.
Testimonials for higher education allow students to learn about current or past students’ experiences and get a more direct telling of the atmosphere, what to expect, and what campus life is like. More importantly, it allows graduate students to develop a deeper connection and build trust with faculty while getting more feedback on program expectations and outcomes.
As with any business, a school should have strong values and a unique brand that they portray to students, faculty and staff. Testimonials are a great tool to highlight the most important values of your institution and allow respected students, staff, and alumni to do some of the brand building for you.
To learn more about building a brand story, check out Noetic Marketer’s previous blog “Building a Brand Story” and discover the 5 main strategies that benefit your brand.
“One month before my college graduation, I received a phone call from my school. They asked if I’d share my college experience with them on graduation day to include as part of their school marketing. As a mother of five, I was graduating alongside students who were in kindergarten when I began college. They told me our family pictures, interviews, and graduation video clips would be used for tv commercials, magazines, and their website. The unique opportunity was a bit intimidating, but I said yes. When family and friends started seeing us on tv and in magazines, they’d tell us. Our kids loved it. It was a great experience, and I think it was a great way to support my alma mater.” (Emily Boyle, School Webmasters)
Who’s Testimonial Best Represents Your School?
It is important for your testimonials to highlight the different aspects of your institution that you want to present. Here are a few groups you should consider gathering testimonials from:
Current Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Reaching out to both undergraduate and graduate students will not only help you target different audiences for potential interest, but you will get to see students at different academic levels:
Undergraduates enjoying student life, campus activities, figuring out their futures
Graduate students who are full-time/part-time, involved in a more direct field, studying closely with professors, and advancing their careers
2. Students in Different Faculties/Programs
If your school offers a range of different faculties or programs, then be sure to highlight students from every department.
As a potential student deciding what school to attend or what program to choose, getting as much information as possible is crucial. By learning more about what programs are offered and seeing first-hand experiences across different programs from current or past students, they will gather more information than what’s simply provided on a program page.
By including testimonials for different faculties, programs and departments, you are not leaving out any potential students while also creating a sense of trust and openness by sharing all aspects and offerings throughout your institution.
3. Respected Alumni
It is always essential to have a strong alumni network for your school. Alumni testimonials provide potential students with great insight into their experiences, programs and possible career options after graduating.
It also allows new or current students the opportunity to reach out or network with alumni and create strong connections.
Alumni testimonials are the ones your school should gather the most!
4. Program Leaders
If your school offers programs or clubs in areas such as academics, leadership, arts, sports, etc., gather some testimonials from people who run those programs.
Sometimes a school’s extra program offerings can be a significant deciding factor for potential students. It could assure students that there are places for them to establish strong connections, continue with their passions during their main studies, or build a foundation for their future careers.
Program leader testimonials are an excellent opportunity to showcase more elements of your school and encourage current or future students to participate in more campus activities to better their experiences.
5. Faculty, Administration and Staff
Hearing from respected professors, admin and staff members will not only provide more insight but will also set the tone for the environment at your institution.
Hearing the experiences and opinions of a schools’ faculty and staff is an important aspect when making a decision. Students will learn how professors view the institution, the student body, and classroom expectations.
Make sure to highlight professors in different departments and staff members that engage with students or student life the most. Students may be more inclined to enroll in certain courses or programs after gaining more direct knowledge from professors or department heads.
Written vs. Testimonials - What Form Should You Use?
Short answer: both!
Written testimonials are timeless, easy to collect, and can be reinvented/reiterated across different mediums.
Video testimonials show dedication and provide you with an opportunity to truly focus on the individual sharing their story. As a visual medium, video provides you with the opportunity to create emotion through positive music and direct imagery of the campus, classes, faculty, workshops and more.
Here are some stats:
Video increases organic website search traffic by 157%. A website is 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google if it includes video.
59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text and 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video.
85% of consumers want to see even more video content from brands.
Viewers retain 95% of your message when they consume it by video, and only 10% when reading it in text.
(Source: Play Play)
And here are some video testimonial tips:
Use high-quality equipment to capture good video and sound.
Keep it short so your audience remains engaged - roughly 1-3 minutes.
Be prepared but not too scripted - you want to establish trust and authenticity with your audience.
Have a clear goal for the testimonial - showcase a program, campus, event, etc.
Add text or graphics to highlight keywords and main points.
Have the video professionally edited to maintain a polished production level.
We highly suggest utilizing both forms of testimonials as there is plenty of opportunity in written and video form to represent your school in the best possible way.
Where Should Your School Showcase Testimonials?
Social media marketing is such a powerful tool in today’s technological climate. Your target audience most likely spends most of their time online OR turns to social media for guidance, information, and support.
Through social media, you can create conversations, showcase your values, encourage engagement, and truly represent your school in an effective way while also incorporating call-to-actions directly back into your school.
You can display written and video testimonials across your website and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. This is a great way to spark conversation between students, alumni, and faculty.
Where to Display Testimonials on Your Website:
Homepage - On your homepage, share general testimonials about your school given by people with great recognition or credentials to establish credibility with those first viewing your site.
Program Pages - On your program pages, testimonials given by students or staff that focus on a specific program should be featured.
Campus/Activity Pages - If you feature testimonials about campus life or extra-curricular activities, be sure to include them on your campus or activity pages to establish a deeper connection with the reader. This is a great place for video testimonials.
Alumni Page - As mentioned, alumni testimonials are integral. Be sure to highlight them on a dedicated alumni page.
Blog Posts - Testimonials are a great addition to any blog. Depending on the topic, try to find a way to incorporate testimonials to really strengthen your online content.
Testimonial Page - Some people want to see reviews and hear from their peers right away. So, having a dedicated page with direct access to testimonials is great. More importantly, you can integrate a submission form on this page to gather even more testimonials!
How Do You Gather Testimonials?
There are many ways to gather testimonials from students, alumni and faculty. Here are some of the best ways you can do this:
School events - either in person or virtually.
Active outreach - email, call or message potential people that may be interested in sharing a testimonial.
This method is the perfect way to direct people to leave a testimonial via Google Reviews. Not only will this benefit your school’s SEO, but it will help build up your Google My Business profile, allowing you to showcase positive ratings and therefore establish more credibility.
*** Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Lucky for you, here is a cold outreach email template you can use to start gathering quality testimonials! ***
As a valuable alumnus/alumna of the University of __________, we want to thank you for choosing to study with us.
As you know, there are thousands of students trying to figure out if ______ is the right program for them.
It would mean a lot if you could provide us with a written testimonial of your experience - this would help students across the globe pick the best option for them.
If you would like to help us, please reply to this email with your testimonial.
School website - have a designated form section for people to give feedback (make sure to monitor).
Social media - have a campaign for followers to either comment, direct message, or share their experience.
Here is a great article highlighting 4 ways to get more customer testimonials on Instagram that can easily be applied to your higher education marketing plan.
The main thing to remember when gathering testimonials is to make it simple and easy. If submitting a testimonial becomes too difficult or requires extra effort, people are more likely to ignore or deny your request.
Looking for a tool that allows students or faculty members to submit their own video testimonials virtually? If so, here is a tool that makes the process super easy! Check it out here
Another great addition to written testimonials is to include photos or headshots of the individual. This is an excellent way to further establish credibility and authenticity and offers a friendly face to the kind words.
Finally, always remember to ask for permission before sharing an individual’s name or face. Make sure that anyone who has submitted a testimonial has given your institute permission to use their words across online platforms.
Key Takeaways in Using Testimonials
Overall, testimonials will always be a valuable resource in higher education marketing. It allows potential students to truly get the full scope of your institution, staff, and programs - all key factors that will ultimately lead them to choose you for their future education.
If you would like more tips on how to increase applications to your school, check out our latest blog “Need More Applications? Here’s How to Boost Lead Generation for Higher Education.” There, you’ll learn Noetic Marketer’s strategies, secrets, and steps for attracting and converting more quality leads at your higher education institution.
Always make sure to have gathering testimonials at the forefront of your marketing efforts. That way, you will have an abundance of great testimonials across all aspects of your institution to display whenever and wherever needed.
Noetic Marketer is a full-service digital marketing agency with roots in both Ottawa and the GTA. We specialize in creating and maintaining digital marketing campaigns for higher education, e-commerce, and professional services. As digital marketers, we strive to find solutions to every company’s lead generation challenges, creating personalized marketing strategies that suit the specific needs of our clients.
Need help with developing effective messaging for your higher education digital marketing campaigns?
About the Author
After graduating from Queen’s University with an English Language & Literature degree in 2019, Emry Joy Tommasini has dedicated her time to honing her skills and beginning a career in the copywriting industry - learning about blog writing, email marketing, editing and publishing. During 2020, she started putting her literature degree towards a more personal passion by writing book reviews on her Emry’s Bookshelf Instagram page. The account flourished into creating an online outlet to write more in-depth reviews for Emry to truly analyze texts without caption limitations. In the past year, Emry has established herself as a copywriter, gaining experience writing SEO-oriented copy for various small businesses across Ontario in a government-funded program to help business owners during Covid-19. As a Copywriter & SEO Strategist at Noetic Marketer, Emry has continued to strengthen her copywriting skills and SEO knowledge in the marketing world and is excited to have entered a career that feeds her creative abilities and thirst for continual growth and knowledge.