5 Effective Marketing Strategies to Reach College Students 

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The student population is one of the most challenging people to sell to. Unlike older generations, they spend most of their time on their phones and are conversant about trending social issues and situations. 

But a smart marketer can leverage the same into an advantage. College students are young and innovative and are stepping into their first stages of social and financial independence.

The trick to selling to them is to be flexible and reach them using various resources in any environment typical for them. If you sell to them early, they become your most loyal customers.

This article will explore plans you can use to reach college students.

Students as a target audience 

Before launching a campaign, you must understand what your target audience is. Analyze how it stands out among others, and where to reach it. Students are a very special social group.

5 Effective Marketing Strategies to Reach College Students

College students are abundant in one place – the college environment. But thanks to technology, you don’t need to restrict yourself to a channel.

You sell physically through a storefront, online, or via both channels. The most important factor is to get a deep understanding of their needs, “pains”, and interests.

If you are a marketing student looking for a deeper understanding of the subject, this is a piece for you. Conducting research on the strategies is much easier as you are part of the target audience.

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Marketing strategies to reach college students

There are various ways and ideas to market to college students. They include public relations, sales promotions, advertising, selling, discounts, sponsorships, etc.

The styles differ depending on the stage of the product cycle, overall commercial strategy, and more. Interestingly, you can combine different mediums for effectiveness. 

In other words, some of the strategies we will mention below can either stand alone or in conjunction with others. Check them out below: 

1. Leverage social media and digital promotions 

College students are social and use the internet a lot. As a result, it is a highly effective channel to reach them. But one of the downsides of this approach is that the online space is vast.

It is easy to get lost in a myriad of ads, and distinguishing fake from original content can be a pain.

As a result, you must be strategic in your approach. There are innovative ways you can reach college students through electronics. The popular ones include: 

Search engine optimization

An SEO strategy is a comprehensive plan to attract visitors to your website using search engines.

Search engine optimization

According to Impact Plus, 61% of marketers named search engine optimization as a top sales priority.

By driving more traffic to your site, you will improve the chances for more customer conversion and revenue generation.

SEO allows you to optimize your site’s content, earn inbound links, and conduct keyword research to improve your ranking and website visibility. 


Email marketing is another fantastic way to grow your brand among college students. Email marketing involves using personalized emails to educate a target audience about products and services.

Marketers can also use it to encourage specific actions like signing up for a trial, booking a demo, registering for a social event, or making a purchase. 

Although email is one of the oldest forms of digital communication, the strategy is practical since most college students have emails. 

Social media 

Gen Z and millennials spend most of their social time online.

Social media

When it comes to promotions, it is one of the best places to administer data collection methods for research and attracting college students. Over 80% of customers are on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. 

Marketers can leverage social media to build their brands, drive website traffic, and increase sales. Built-in analytics also helps to track your efforts to implement improvements. 


This approach applies to traditional and digital mediums and is one of the best marketing strategies.

It focuses on creating and distributing valuable social content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and drive profitable customer action. 

Use e-books, video seminars, and infographics to share information about your brand, obtain customer information, and retain them. 


Affiliate promotion is the last digital approach you can explore. It involves using third-party advertising to drive sales. We will talk more about this in the section about using student ambassadors. 

2. Free sample marketing 

Can you imagine a college student who is not intrigued by a free offer?

Everyone loves free stuff, and one of the ways to attract college students is to give them free trials of what you’re offering without asking for anything in return. Free sample promotion is productive in the health, food, beauty, and drink industries. 

Nonetheless, you can use it for various services with the right administration. But we must mention that a free sample is only a way to create buzz and quickly attract prospects. 

In other words, whether you will retain and turn them into loyal customers is entirely up to other social promotion plans. 

3. Offer discounts and special campaigns 

Discount is useful for attracting prospects and old buyers. You can also use it as a vital KPI to improve the loyalty of regulars. It creates a sense of happiness by releasing oxytocin and generates excitement.

Offer discounts and special campaigns

Not only this, but college students also feel smarter as they save money. Like free samples, everyone likes the idea of saving money and would hunt for places that offer the lowest prices. 

Use special campaigns specific to your audience to attract them and put a sense of urgency to force them to make decisions within a reasonable deadline. 

4. Use student ambassadors and influencers 

One of the effective ways to creatively market to college students is to connect at their level.

Social student influencers have a wide reach and can spread information about your product and services within the campus faster than you can. 

You can also engage loyal patrons of your business to acknowledge their loyalty and use them as student ambassadors.

Use kits like t-shirts, water bottles, or other materials they can give to their peers and reward them for their services. Marketers can also use college media sources to communicate sponsored posts, display ads, etc. 

5. Try traditional marketing

The last strategy you can explore is the one that existed before technology and the internet.

Traditional promotions involve the outdoor display of the best products and services using printed advertisements, billboards, and sticker wraps. You can use easily printed content or deliver it directly to students. 

Other channels marketers can explore include gathering prospects in a place to speak or demonstrate products, TV or radio advertising, and pamphlets.  


There are different types of promotions you can use to attract college students.

They include business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business, and consumer-to-consumer. The success of every business is traceable to its product promotions. 

Even if you offer the best products and services, it won’t be worth anything if people don’t know about it.

We recommend you implement these methods together with other sales plans to increase the chance of turning hype into real customers among students.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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