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Sam ThorsonMay, 11, 20227 min read

The Recruitment Journey – Graduate Student

What’s an example of a recruitment journey? As an agency, we force ourselves to base our recruitment strategies on real-life situations. Data, surveys, and research can help us collect all the information we want on a specific audience, but how does all the knowledge get put into practice.

In this series, we’ll be illustrating an example of a potential student’s “Recruitment Journey” as they learn about, engage with, and become enrolled at a university.

Meet Samantha

Samantha just celebrated her 21st birthday. She is also excited to be graduating in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

She is passionate about healthcare because of her brother. He has medical issues and she wants to join the industry and perhaps work on the front lines of medical innovation so she can help people like her brother.

She is unsure, though, if joining a private firm immediately out of school is the best move, or if pursuing a graduate degree in the field is the right choice.

What our Research Says about Rebecca

Top Personal Values

  • Caring for Family and Friends

    As pointed out in the description, Samantha desires to be devoted to the welfare of family and friends. Life is about helping people who are dear to them.
  • Prove Ability & Showcase Talent

    Samantha desires to seek success and the admiration of others for being successful. Ambitiousness and determination may be distinguishing attributes. Life is about getting ahead, "winning," and impressing others.
  • Live a Purposeful Life

    This audience seeks new and thrilling experiences. Samantha is more likely to take risks to achieve those experiences. May have low patience for uninteresting or tedious tasks. Life is an adventure consisting of novel, stimulating, and surprising challenges and experiences.

Top Psychological Drivers

  • Social & Professional Status
  • Living an Exciting Life

Top Media Consumption Time & Sources

  • Averages 20-40 Hours Online / Week
  • Social Channels include TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest
  • TV Channels include Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+

Strategy & Objective

Samantha represents our graduate audience. This persona has a high level of awareness when it comes to their education options. The primary marketing objective for this audience is to establish the credibility of our target university. This is first established through transactional messaging through research/professional content channels like Google Search and LinkedIn. The messaging here will outline program availability as well as graduate program quality.

Once we’ve made a credible first introduction, we can then tap into the emotional component to the strategy. Maintaining awareness during the time when Samantha is considering her options is key. This will be accomplished through high-volume, awareness message, channels like YouTube, Spotify, and Responsive Display.

One of the biggest differences between this audience and the undergraduate audience is their research habits. Samantha is willing to research specific graduate programs that fit her needs. For this reason, a primary objective for this audience is connecting them with an advisor. This can be accomplished through RFI forms or registration to events like the virtual Q&A sessions.

Once we’ve established a line of communication with an advisor, we can then emphasize the value proposition of the university through more marketing channels and email communication. This value messaging will continue until Samantha is converted through an application submission and enrollment.

Media Recommendations


LinkedIn InMail Campaign for Graduate Degrees

Google Search

Targeting - keywords around graduate degrees in the chemistry/health care industry

Google Display

Targeting - In-Market Segment for graduate degrees in chemistry/health care (excluding those who already have grad degrees) building audiences from the pages of competitors who offered similar degree/program

Facebook / Instagram

Targeting - Demo age range, interested in grad degree, lookalikes based on site traffic to the key program page, retargeting visitors of specific program page


Targeting - In-Market Segment for graduate degrees in chemistry/health care (excluding those who already have grad degrees), building audiences from the pages of competitors who offered similar degree/program

Virtual Events

Live Q&A Sessions


Workflow Nurture Emails

Text Messaging

Scholarship Opportunities, Registration or Application Deadlines, etc.


Samantha’s Recruitment Journey


Samantha became a suspect in 2018 when her information was gathered as part of the student search list purchase. Although she chose to attend a different university, her contact profile still exists in our university’s CRM. The marketing agency is utilizing past purchased lists to build qualified target audiences in our digital marketing campaigns.

Because she is debating pursing a job or furthering her education, Samantha makes sure that her LinkedIn profile is updated in case a future employer wants to review her work history. On this day, while reviewing her profile and connections, Samantha sees a sponsored email from the Department Head of the Ph.D. Chemistry Graduate Program for our target university. Samantha clicks on the email and begins to read. The email explains that this university is on the cutting edge of innovation. The graduate programs offer exploration into the frontier of medical and technological advancement.


Samantha visits the main website where she reads about the Ph.D. Chemistry program, she notices that university is hosting a virtual Q&A session with professors in the field. She’s interested but does NOT register. After reading a little bit more, Samantha leaves the website.

After she leaves the site an internal email notification is sent to an admissions counselor, that an old contact has visited the website. The admissions counselor can now review Samantha’s contact profile in the CRM. Samantha has now been entered into a remarketing digital campaign which is promoting the Live Q&A sessions. She is now receiving social media and display remarketing ads encouraging her to register for the event.

It’s been three days… in that time, Samantha has been going about her life. She likes to spend time on YouTube, Instagram, and listen to podcasts on Spotify. In the time since she’s visited the website, she’s both seen and heard the university’s ads multiple times. She keeps thinking about her brother’s condition and the idea about being on the forefront of the medical industry keeps coming back to her mind.

She remembers the Live Q&A Virtual session and decided that it can’t hurt to listed and ask a few questions. Samantha registers for the Q&A Session. The registration form submission triggers a confirmation email and also put Samantha into an email workflow to remind her about the Q&A session. Additionally, Samantha’s lead score has now increased enough to automatically place her in a segmented list for potential students.

After listening to the Q&A session, Samantha decides that pursing a graduate degree is what she wants. Her biggest question now is “Where do I go?”. Obviously, she’s heard a lot about our target university in the past few days, but she’s wondering if it’s really the best option for her. As she researches schools, Samantha is served ads about the value of a degree from our university.


After a week of research and a lot of time thinking about the right fit for her, Samantha decides that she wants to apply for the Ph.D. The chemistry program at our target university, however, she also applies for the same program at two other schools as well.

Upon her submission of the application, she immediately receives an email from the university’s Admissions Office with the subject line, “Thank You for Submitting Your Application!” Samantha is now automatically removed from the “Potential Student” email workflow and placed in a list labeled “Applicant”.


Samantha is excited to find an email from the admissions office in her inbox. The email explains that she’s been accepted into the graduate program. The email clearly lays out the next steps she can expect leading up to the start of classes.

Because Samantha also applied to other schools, she’s entered into a yield campaign that includes an automated workflow of emails reminding her about the value of a degree from our target university. She also continues to receive digital ads on social media and across websites that talk about the value of a degree.


Working closely with the admissions counselor, Samantha decides that she wants to attend the target university for her graduate degree. She enrolls in classes for the fall semester.

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Sam Thorson

Sam specializes in Higher Education marketing strategies. He works hand in hand with university and college admissions and marketing teams to set goals, launch campaigns, and analyze results. With over 7 years of digital, content, and general marketing experience, Sam dedicates himself to connecting modern marketing strategies to higher education institutions.