Segmentation and personalization are excellent engagement tactics for higher ed marketers because they allow you to tailor your messaging around the things your audience cares about most.

But, while speaking to your audience about the right things is important, a truly robust marketing strategy considers how you should speak to them too.

Today’s undergraduates utilize technology and social media in ways I could not have dreamed of at that age.

They have practically any information they could want at their fingertips. They are bombarded day and night with messages, images and more. It’s hard to catch their attention, much less hold it.

What are marketers to do?

Providing relevant and personalized information is step one, and ensuring the communication follows their unique decision-making process in real time through marketing automation is another great step in the right direction.

But all of this is for naught if they don’t read it, they don’t relate to it or, worst case scenario, they’re turned off by it.

The solution? Speak authentically.

It’s important to know your audience.

Ask yourself one question: “How do they talk to each other?” Then, learn from that communication style.

Apply that communication style across all touchpoints. Make sure your written and digital communications use language, references and sentence structures that they will relate to your audience (without being incorrect or unprofessional, of course).

Make sure your staff understands the tone and culture your communications should convey and adapt that same communication style in their one-on-one correspondence and when out in the field.

Present a unified, relatable front.

If you’re recruiting undergraduate students, try taking a savvy pop culture approach to your messaging—it shouldn’t sound like an academic is writing the copy.

Then, look at the context, how the information is presented. Include images and video, and house it all inside a modern and authentic brand. Make the visuals and the content speak to your audience like they would speak to each other.

This principle works for more than just admission teams. The same foundation should be applied when pursuing donors, recruiting graduate students and even recruiting new professors to your college or university.

When you add that personality and individualization on top of the technical-level personalization — that’s the magic formula.