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How Students Perform Online Research for Higher Education


“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” ~ Craig Davis, former Chief Creative Officer at J. Walter Thompson.

Mobile has changed the way students search for higher education. The journey that used to start in person to get to know a college campus based on a parent’s or teacher’s recommendation, now starts on a screen from a digital device. While on the go, students can access information that they need and look for reviews or others’ experiences whenever and wherever they want. Students research and plan their education through micro-moments, which we will define here in a bit.Understanding this new scenario is key for any educational institution to be able to suit their current and potential student’s needs. According to a report released by New America’s Education Policy Program, which analyzed prospective students’ college research behavior, 63% of students felt lost while searching for colleges.


9 in 10 enrolled students have used the Internet to research higher education institutions.


By implementing the correct content marketing strategy for your institution, you can be a part of the research journey for current and potential students, which is critical in shaping their decisions and preferences. Micro-moments are a game changer for marketers. So, let’s see what this new game has to offer and how schools can benefit from it.

Some marketers might remember the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), which consists of winning over the customer at an early stage of their research and earning the attention of the consumers, all while delivering great experiences. With the arrival of the mobile and social media platforms, the reality of the  new consumer behavior evolved from one critical moment (ZMOT), to smaller and more manageable scenarios for companies to win. On one hand, people share their experiences, feelings, and opinions on social media. On the other hand, people use their phones to do 90% of their research. All these different interactions are what Google has defined as micro-moments. In other words, what are the small moments that define a customer’s behavior online?


90% of smart phone users have used their phone to make progress toward a long-term goal or multi-step process while “out and about.”


Just so we can add some context, micro-moments happen in spare moments, normally while waiting in line, commuting, or simply while relaxing at home. And within this context, companies need to focus on attracting the attention of their audience. The saying “in the right place at the right time” was never was so applicable; students expect answers to guide them through their journey, at the right time, on the right device, and in the correct format. Schools, more than ever, need to be there to engage with students, and the way to achieving that is by having an effective content marketing strategy in place.

Students are looking online to pursue their goals and decide their future educational paths and colleges. Providing your students with more relevant and transparent data that can help them to filter through the overwhelming amount of information that they can find online is where institutions should put the focus on. And in that sense, some platforms like the New College Scorecard has done a great job.

So, what can you do to be there when your students need you? Once you know what a student is looking for, you must provide them the content that answers their questions, and more important, tailor that content for that particular moment. Remember that one moment leads to another, so having a well-planned content distribution strategy will be key. Here are some search interest from students organized by state from Think With Google:


Optimizing your content during a student’s journey is essential in serving his or her needs. Your students move seamlessly through their device of choice, and they expect a unique experience tailored to them.

This is how student, Marlhon, approached his new path in life and decided to start looking for his next step in his education through his mobile phone while out and about:



Mobile and social have redrawn a consumer’s journey in regards to how they make important decisions, like selecting a graduate school. Your content marketing campaign needs to be organized around a student’s spontaneous spurts of interaction. You can win your student’s micro-moments battle by building a relationship with them in the early stage of the journey and nurturing them throughout it with the right content. That will be what will decide if you win their attention or go unseen.
If you are ready to win current and future student attention, start thinking about student’s want-to-know moments, want-to-go moments, want-to-do moments, and want-to-buy moments.


Google Micro-Moments

See how we have won and continue to maintain this new battleground for our private education clients. Start increasing your student enrollment rate with the help of our team. Let’s infuse these moments with meaning for your students; our team is here to help!

Let’s win the moment!