Getting Students Engaged in your Company

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The concept of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is extremely important in the world of marketing. The high value of keeping existing customers dramatically outweighs the costs of acquiring new customers. When a company such as Starbucks acquires a new loyal customer, that customer often purchases their coffee many times throughout their lifetime. Additionally, when a platform such as Netflix gains a new subscriber, they often remain loyal for months, if not years. This is why knowing the value of your Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) is very important especially if you are targeting the college student market. The reasoning is two-fold: first, it’s the first time college students are living on their own and making their own purchasing decisions for products they’ll use every day. Second, being young adults, their lifetime value is greater because they will live longer than their millennial & GenX counterparts. For these reasons, the college student demographic for many retail brands is the optimum time to introduce and establish brand loyalty to these young customers. In addition, GenZs also spends quite a lot of money each year. According to a recent statistic, they spend over $200 billion annually. Companies and their marketing teams must get creative and use the most effective tactics to authentically speak to this savvy consumer segment.

Reach them through social media

College students are generally very social and aware of the world around them. They are constantly tuned into social media and all the latest trends. Platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, and Snapchat cater directly to this audience and their interests. Using these social platforms to run marketing campaigns is one way to directly connect with them. Brands that create unique accounts or utilize specific hashtags can generate “buzz” around their product or service. While paid ads have become a common social strategy; there are other ways to reach students that are less contrived and more authentic.

Student Social influencers are one of the best ways to saturate your marketing message to the college demographic. Student Influencers (SI’s) can be athletes, student club leaders, fraternity/ sorority members or other influential students on campus. Their followers are their friends and peers who trust their posts as if they heard it directly from their mouth. This influencer class is referred to as nano-influencers as they have thousands of followers but lack the professional scale of having tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. These Macro (500K-1M) or Mega (1M+) influencer classes reach a much broader audience segment and are extremely expensive to use. In addition, their followers are inundated with their promoted posts so the natural reaction over time is ad blindness. Student influencers on the other hand have a very intimate follower base who are never exposed to a promoted post. Therefore, when SI’s write a promoted post, there is an AH-HA moment for these followers, which creates a very high engagement rate to the post. Brands using multiple student influencers across a large university will have a very high and fast engagement rate across campus. In addition, these promoted posts can be boosted on different social platforms to the entire student body. This two-part social strategy enables brands to leverage hyper-local content creators to go deep into their college microcosm rather than what Macro-Influencers do which is to reach a broad audience segment with no affiliation to any schools.

Brand Ambassador Programs

Creating company-specific brand ambassador programs takes it a step further when creating a buzz on campus. By hiring student ambassadors for campus-based media, whether flyer distribution, Greek life presentations or other peer engagements, other students will find the brand more trustworthy by seeing their peers represent them. Sometimes these Brand Ambassadors become long-term customers themselves and will share your message long after the campaign has run through word-of-mouth extending further than the college campus.

Offering Discounts

If there’s one thing almost all college students can agree on, it’s the love of free products or steep discounts. Whether it’s at a campus event giving out branded pens, hair ties, or water bottles or hanging a gift card on a door hanger, they are well received on any college campus. Another simple way to engage students for a discount or freebie is with a QR code. The QR codes can lead to a website with more information or access to exclusive discounts and deals. QR codes force the student to take time to scan them and process the information.


To get students in the 18-24 age range engaged with your company, all it takes is a bit of creativity and planning. Using a college marketing agency should be at the top of your list to ensure success. Agencies will have the inside knowledge and skills to get you linked up with student brand ambassadors and Social Influencers who will be carefully vetted to represent your brand. Utilize this demographic to reach their peers on college campuses nationwide!

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