CVB News

Higher Education Student Recruitment Strategies in 2022

Help Prospective Students Overcome Fears with Authentic, Personalized Communication

If every crisis is an opportunity, our friends and clients in Higher Ed Admissions and Enrollment Management have been tasked with being alchemists, working to spin recruitment gold from situational straw. In regions across the US and Canada, the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated a trending decline in undergraduate enrollment, with many students choosing to join the workforce instead of pursuing college.

A recent analysis by the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics shows that high school students perceptions of unaffordability have had a direct impact in the decline of undergraduate student enrollment, especially among vulnerable and at-risk populations, such as first-generation students.

According to Ruffalo Noel Levitz  (RNL) 2021 E-Expectations Trend Report, Understanding the Impact of the Pandemic on Online College Search, the college website content most valuable to  juniors and seniors is cost/tuition/scholarship information, even before programs or degrees. And they want the information quickly.

There is no silver bullet to improve student enrollment, but when we talk about student recruitment strategies in 2022, it is helpful to return an evergreen truth: Generation Z is seeking guidance. More important than ever is clear communication that amplifies the personal touch and builds trust. The recruiting experience must speak to the unique and specific needs students have now, such as changing financial conditions, geographic preferences, or the need for flexibility for attending school while working.

Especially when it comes to financial aid and scholarships, students need to be reassured that there is solid path forward for them and their families. Authentic, personalized communications specific to the information they need, with a balance of engaging digital experiences and personal interactions, both real and virtual, will cut through the noise. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Pragmatism Matters. These Gen Z students and their Millennial counterparts, (the primary target for both Online and Graduate  programs) want to know what their education will cost, what’s the return on investment (ROI), what it takes to get in, and what it will be like. Provide quick access to costs, scholarships, graduate outcomes, and application information across communication channels.

Pairing In-Person and Virtual Advisement. The pandemic has permanently altered student recruitment, and many students and parents will desire both virtual and in-person interactions. Students and families from diverse cultural backgrounds, who may have language barriers, or are economically vulnerable, need to be shown a clear pathway forward. Student and family support throughout the application and admittance process will yield results. Undergraduate, Graduate and Online divisions, and International Admissions divisions, are enhancing their virtual event strategies with more web casts, live streaming  and digital community interactions. Most importantly, students and parents seek direct access with advisers and financial advisers.

User-generated Content and Influencer Marketing (Peer-to-Peer Power). Among Gen Z and Millennials, 86% say user-generated content is a good indicator of a quality brand. Universities that tap into current student and alumni population to talk about their experience, the impact of their degree on their lives and goals, and how they were able to afford it, will win out. On college websites and digital marketing, brief, mobile-friendly video vignettes are a powerful way to get to telegraph authenticity and relevance from trusted sources.

We Can Help You Reach Your Goals.
We can’t wait to show you how the CustomViewbook Digital Viewbook Platform has helped Admissions and Recruitment teams throughout North America more effectively engage and nurture prospective students.
Contact Mary Pannullo for an informative and fun demo. ( )

CustomViewbook Higher Education Student Recruitment Software is a Slate Preferred Partner.

Freeze Out Summer Melt. Engage Students and Families with Virtual and Digital Tools.

The dreaded phenomenon of summer melt: three months that feel like a year for college admissions and enrollment management. Each year, 10% to 40% of students, accepted and deposited in the spring, drop off before completing their enrollment journey.

We understand how 17- and 18-year-olds who just spent months getting accepted can feel overwhelmed at this stage. Suddenly confronted with complex forms and deadlines, they grapple with FAFSA applications, supplemental loans, the reality of tuition costs, housing, orientation, registering for class, confirming their major, transportation and the most current COVID requirements. Not to mention the big leap away from home, family, and friends. Especially at-risk are low-income, first generation, and underserved populations who may lack the support system at home to help push through these barriers to the final stages of enrollment. Confusion, self-doubt and anxiety can set in. And for certain, COVID-19 has only complicated matters.

For college admissions, it’s more vital than ever to support and encourage prospective students and their families, especially those most vulnerable to melt. At the same time, many schools are having to do more with less – leaner budgets, reduced admissions and recruitment staff, and summer months filled with administrative tasks. While no college app or AI chatbot can replace the personal individualized touch, virtual and digital tools are powerful ways to combat overwhelm, provide clarity, and have future students seeing and feeling the bigger, brighter picture just over the horizon, right on your campus.

  • Offer Centralized Support
    Create a ‘first stop’ student portal on your website so that accepted students can ask questions, be directed to the right resources, and confidently take next steps.
  • Inspire with Quality Content:
    At this stage, your accepted students have already formed a strong impression of your unique value proposition and brand. Digital ads, email, text, and social media campaigns should direct future students to website landing pages and multimedia experiences where students can explore and immerse themselves in the best of your academic, campus and experiential offerings with high quality videos, imagery, and interactive experiences.
  • Peer-to-Peer Impact:
    Provide a level of authentic connection and mentorship with student takeovers of your social media platforms. Have student ambassadors, honor society members, and program rock stars primed and ready to take over your Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Providing students with a peer-to-peer, day in the life peek behind the scenes at academics, student life, research, clubs, and organizations brings possibilities to life with joy and fun – and can bring a new confidence to students’ decision making.
  • Maximize the Use of Virtual Tools.
    Virtual tools have provided a level of connection and access previously unavailable, especially for international and out-of-state and students who may not be able to make it to campus. Use these newly integrated tools to host town halls, open houses and decision day events where prospective students and their families can be introduced to and have direct access to the college president, leadership, faculty, and staff.
  • Engage Parents
    The parents of your accepted students, Gen X, primarily use Facebook as their preferred social media. Target parents with social media advertising that has messaging distinctly for them, driving them to landing pages and resources specific to their primary concerns, like financial aid, health resources, commuting, housing and safety.
  • Provide Continual Engagement and Nudges
    Texting and Chat bots have been shown to be effective ways to keep this non-linear decision-making process moving forward, with students getting real-time answers about orientation, housing, financial aid, loan applications and deadlines.

Let us help!
CustomViewbook provides prospective students with all the information they want in one personalized best-in-class digital experience. And, the highly-qualified inquiries you need. Mobile ready and with nothing to download, students are immersed in the best of your academic, student life and experiential offerings, with helpful next steps to support them through application, financial aid, connecting with campus, and more.

Contact Mary Pannullo for demo. ( )
We’ll can’t wait to show you how CustomViewbook and its suite of tools will help you capture stealth shoppers, including international and out-of-state students, and nurture inquiries at every stage of the recruitment journey.

Inspiration From Across The Globe. The Alice Smith School’s CustomViewbook Wins a Brilliance Award.

We were thrilled when our clients at the Alice Smith School, an international private school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, told us that they had submitted their CustomViewbook to the 2020 InspirED School Marketers’ Annual Brilliance Awards, sponsored by miXed digital EDU.
(Brilliant ideas and brain food for private school marketing worldwide).

Alice Smith’s captivating CustomViewbook earned a Bronze Award in the category ‘Out of the Box’, with some wonderful comments from judges, and from our esteemed client.

“In a year in which many schools were closed, this feels like a personalized visit . . .”

” . . . it resonates with the next generation of prospective families. Where this approach shines is in the displaying of what the viewer wants to know about the school, not what the school wants the viewer to know. Really smart.”

The team at The Alice Smith School utilizes vibrant images and clear messaging – the perfect recipe for an effective, award-winning and captivating CustomViewbook.

“When the pandemic hit and we could no longer provide in person events and tours the CustomViewbook became a significant feature in our enrollment campaigns being used both in outbound advertising and lead nurturing but also by our Admissions team who provide bespoke viewbook links to families based on the information they have shared with us. The system is easy to use and update and the time invested in providing the depth of information for each family’s individual needs has been incredibly worthwhile.” – Andrea Grassby, Director of Marketing and Admissions

Bravo to Andrea, Karen and the Alice Smith team!

You can check out their CustomViewbook and more about the awards here.

Client Spotlight: Newman University

In Challenging Times, Creativity Wins Out.

All years must come to an end – to ring in something new and better. Good-bye 2020. Hello New Beginnings in 2021!

Before we part for the Holidays, we want to express our gratitude to our amazing Clients, and our admiration to the Admissions, Enrollment Management, Marketing and Digital Communications professionals we’ve met throughout the year. Despite the extraordinary challenges of COVID-19, the grit and determination of these Higher Education pros shines through!

Here is a fine example…


Geoff Louvar

Geoff Louvar, Admissions Digital Marketing Manager at Newman University, shared how he and the team are keeping it real and student-focused, while pivoting to virtual recruiting events and online sessions.

“As an Admissions team we are very fortunate to have CustomViewbook in our toolbox to recruit students during the COVID19 Pandemic. With students unable or willing to visit campus in-person, we have moved our recruiting events and visits online in a virtual format. The CustomViewbook allows students to receive and create their own personalized view book in a medium they use the most often – their phones. CustomViewbook has provided us with a “cool” factor advantage versus our competition that are relying on printed view books alone.”

Geoff generously shared some of the photos created for upcoming social media and print campaigns – cool, casual and sure to engage eyeballs and capture fresh new student inquiries.

Onward — to meet the challenges of 2021 with online and digital tools that meaningfully personalize the college search experience for prospective students, enhance virtual and in-person connections, and empower students and recruiters.

Connecting With Students In A Digital-First World

Just as colleges and universities swiftly implemented new ways to provide academic continuity for enrolled students during the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, higher ed admissions offices have found themselves mastering new skills as well. Constantly changing messaging, remote recruiting and virtual events – online student recruitment? You are already there.

The shift has been seismic for prospective students well. High school sophomores and juniors can’t help but feel sidelined themselves, as senior classmates graduate with very little pomp and circumstance. In these distant times, how can you connect with them in a more meaningful way?

CustomViewbookTM was designed to help students focus on how education can bring their hopes and dreams closer to reality – even the current one. Answering the questions about your institution that continue to be top of mind – what’s here for me, how can I make it happen, and where can I go from here – CustomViewbook allows you to email personalized content to engage, inform and reassure each prospective student.

A few things to keep in mind when helping your Generation Z prospects find their way in this season of uncertainty:

  • They’re digital natives accustomed to having things personalized for them, from playlists and newsfeeds to all kinds of product features. Help them feel seen with specific, dynamic, customized communication.
  • They aren’t excited about more frequent emails – just more relevant ones.
  • They’re pragmatic and rethinking what’s possible all the time. You can take a segmented approach to offer individualized options, such as regional campaigns that focus on local alternatives for college.
  • They’re cautious marketing targets. Authentic, brief and direct subject lines and calls-to-action give them the confidence that you can be trusted.

Whether capturing stealth shoppers on your website or from social media, or strategizing email campaigns that cut through the clutter and deliver meaningful engagement, we are here to help! Contact Mary Pannullo ( for an informative demo.

A Message From The CustomViewbook Team

On behalf of all of us at CustomViewbook, we hope this message finds you safe and well. As we all do our part to inhibit the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our communities and campuses, we want to be of help to Higher Education in any way we can.

We are grateful to see our clients taking the right precautions to mitigate the spread of this virus, and to keep students, faculty and communities as safe and as informed as possible.

We are fortunate that our parent company, Antech Systems, Inc., puts health and family first and provided a work-from-home policy, allowing us to continue the high level of service our clients expect.

As we all navigate through the months ahead, virtual tools will be especially vital to your Admissions and Recruitment efforts. And you may already have powerful solutions at your disposal to support student engagement – including CustomViewbook’s ability to safely reach students around the world when you can’t be there in person. We’re ready when you are to help engage prospective students – together.

Wishing good health to you and those around you,

The CustomViewbook Team

Colorado State University and CustomViewbook: When Client Insight Meets Student Needs, An Engagement Innovation is Born!

CRM YouBlast: The Power of Personalized CustomViewbooks, Automated From Your CRM

Noting that prospective first year students often indicate a diverse set of academic and student life interests, our Colorado State University client asked us: Is there a way to provide students individualized, tailor-made content, straight from their Slate CRM?

Great question!

The CustomViewbook team dove right in to plan and develop an innovative solution that allows Slate’s CRM (and all popular CRMs) to share data with our secure server. The result, our new CRM YouBlast tool, gives Colorado State the power to automate creation of personalized CustomViewbooks from within Slate. With the click of a few buttons, they are now able to create personalized CustomViewbooks that match any combination of the diverse Academic and Student Life interests their prospects have.

Prairie Smallwood, Content Marketing Specialist at Colorado State, gives the new tool high marks.CRM YouBlast has allowed Colorado State University to introduce an instant, personalized experience for our prospective students who may have previously interacted with us. Sending a student an email with their personalized link to their very own CustomViewbook means they can get to the information they want to see – and only the information they want to see – without having to wade through pages and pages of academic, housing, and extracurricular information they aren’t looking for. Everything they’ve previously shown interest in will already be selected in their CVB, along with the option to easily edit as they narrow their search and hone their interest areas at Colorado State University. Right now, we are using CRM YouBlast early in the recruitment funnel, and are really pleased with the engagement rates we are seeing, with unique open rates at 39.6% and unique click rates at 9.2%.”

Go Prairie and Team CO State!

More good news? Colorado State has no hesitation about sharing this breakthrough – the CRM YouBlast feature has been added to our suite of tools and is available to all clients. And yes, it works with all leading CRMs.

For more information on how CustomViewbook digital viewbook platform can help you capture high value leads, and boost student engagement throughout the recruitment funnel, please contact

At UIC The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Creativity Drives Student Engagement

When Jannie Kirby accepted her post as Director of Communications and Marketing at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC LAS), she set out to support the recruitment team by adding a digital experience that prospective students could not refuse!

Jannie worked with her Student Affairs group and CustomViewbook to tackle one of the main challenges that many Liberal Arts schools have – capturing the attention of Gen Z prospective students who have interest in the liberal arts, but may be concerned about career preparedness and a viable post-college path. Together, Jannie, with input from LAS’s Career Development folks, created a Viewbook experience that brings alive the spirit and depth of their diverse programs and vibrant campus life, while providing academic content that underscores the ‘real-world’ value of a liberal arts and sciences education. This content includes inspiring student testimonials, faculty videos, alumni career profiles, experiential learning and internship highlights, and information about minors that can offer a pragmatic complement to a liberal arts’ major.

So far, LAS’s CustomViewbook has proven to be a big hit with prospective students and the recruitment team alike! Jannie noted, “We had a fall Open House and were really pleased with the student enthusiasm for CustomViewbook. The recruitment team really made it a fun event with large banners and signage with QR codes, snippets of student testimonials to encourage prospective students to explore our majors, and chances to win prizes with a ‘Wheel of Fortune’-styled giveaway for those who created their own Viewbook. We captured over 426 new leads through face to face interactions, alone.

“We are really happy with the level of enthusiasm we’ve seen to date. We are not merely pushing info. Students are telling us what interests them the most, which is a great setup for more meaningful dialogue with advisors. We were surprised by some of the most popular areas of interest under ‘Campus Life’, which in turn has informed our web content and communications efforts. We’re incorporating the ViewBook into our social media outreach as well.  It’s exciting to see the number of repeat visitors grow and gain new insights about student preferences. For us, CustomViewbook has been a great addition to our lead nurturing and yield efforts, and we are excited to be leveraging digital technology, creative storytelling, and a tailored student experience to reach Gen Z. They’ve pretty much grown up with digital.  We want to connect with them using a customized approach that they understand and can fully appreciate.”

To learn more about how CustomViewbook can help you capture high value leads and drive lead nurturing and yield efforts, contact

5 Ways to Help Your Email Campaigns Avoid Spam Filters

News flash from the future (aka 2020): email campaigns are still one of the most effective components of a college’s admissions marketing strategy. In our GenZ Labs user testing sessions, prospective students point to email as the most trusted form of communication from Admissions offices. But they also report that their inboxes are flooded with messages and they quickly determine the good, the bad and the “hit the spam button!”

Whether you rely on a sophisticated CRM or a more basic email software to reach them, prospective students are acting as real live spam filters. Fortunately, they’re candid about what turns them off or earns their focus. Combine their insights with tried-and-true best practices for email campaigns, and you’re on your way to open and click-through rates that sing “ROI!’

1. I’ll pass on a weak subject line. Both your recipients and spam filters begin with the subject line of your email to judge its worthiness. Choose your words with care — you want concise subject lines that are personalized in a natural-feeling way, relevant to the student’s expressed interests and offer a compelling reason to open. Keep spam filters happy by avoiding all caps (WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING?), excessive punctuation (…, !!!, and ???), and overly “spammy” words and phrases (free, act now, guaranteed, be amazed, etc).

2. Make it personal and keep it simple. While spam filters can be triggered by an imbalance of images and text or excessive links in email content, prospective students have their own criteria. Emails that are generic, obviously cut-and-pasted, too “salesy” or simply irrelevant to their actual interests are a big turn-off. “Generic cut and paste. Ewwwww.” Students feel the same about complex or confusing content that isn’t quickly consumed. Whenever possible, focus on the recipient’s known interests, speak to them by name, and make it clear how they can learn more with a singular call-to-action. Simple, visually interesting content is far more likely to achieve high click-through rates – use it to gain their trust and keep nurturing!

3. Don’t be redundant. These digital natives move quickly across media (email, websites, social media, texts, chatbots, instant messaging) and devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet, desktop), all in one day during their college search. They pick up on and are turned off by repetitive messaging, so make sure yours is varied. Consider decreasing your planned push communications – a less is more approach – and be sure to exclude students from receiving duplicate emails.

4. Let me unsubscribe. Offer a link to opt out of future emails and honor unsubscribe requests within 10 days – it’s a good practice that will keep you compliant with the Federal CAN-SPAM Act.

5. I get a ton of emails – are you even sure I’m getting yours? Test your emails to ensure deliverability. There are various tools to help you pull a report on how email providers view your IP address, and ensure deliverability. Knowing where you stand will help you focus on what needs to be improved.

Quality is King! Having the most highly qualified leads available is the foundation for creating the most compelling – and spam-proof – communications. We’d love to show you how! Contact and schedule a demo to learn how the CustomViewbook platform will help you capture leads that are 4.5X more likely to become enrolled.

Reduce Print Costs: Striking the Balance Between Print and Digital in Higher Ed Admissions’ Marketing

The trends vary. While every institution has their own take on the strategic use of print pieces for prospective students, each grapple with the same considerations. What is the right balance between print and digital? Where in the recruitment cycle? What kind of pieces? Does Generation Z even look at print? Is it really just for parents?

In our Gen Z Labs user testing sessions, the students are pretty adamant. They only prefer print pieces:

  • if they asked for it
  • if the information is specifically relevant to their interests
  • if it’s brief, factual – not too ‘salesy’
    *Oh, and they like stickers, too.

Our CVB Clients tell us that print is here to stay, though how they use it is evolving. Many are shifting away from expensive, one-size-fits-all print viewbooks. Instead, they start the recruitment cycle with inexpensive print pieces (postcards, tri-fold brochures) inviting prospective students to create their own CustomViewbooks. Once more qualifying information about the prospective student is captured, a targeted print piece is sent, with content relevant to the prospect’s interest. For many of our clients, this streamlined approach has resulted in reduced print production costs.

“CustomViewbook has played a significant role in reducing our print costs. We don’t use very much print anymore, and are making our main piece even smaller. Our bigger main piece is for out-of-state. Our smaller bread-and-butter pieces are driving students to create their own CustomViewbook. When we have VIP visitors to campus, we print out the Viewbook itself.”

“Print is here to stay but its purpose is changing. Because there is a big shift to digital, we use print pieces as something special and extra-personal to get. We use them less often.”

“There are shifts happening but not as quickly as you’d might expect. People are still using quite a bit of print, maybe shorter pieces and not as frequently.”

We get it – print and digital communications should work hand-in-hand!  CustomViewbook has two customizable print designs available for our clients, (a hand-out piece and a self-mailer), each working to build awareness and drive prospects to create their own CVB.  And, we can help clients track the effectiveness of these print campaigns with specific source URLs.

Want to learn more about how CustomViewbook can help make your print strategy more effective? Contact Mary Pannullo ( and schedule a demo, now.