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How Student Seed Marketing Programs Create Exponential Growth

College student discounted software on her laptop.

How Student Seed Marketing Programs Create Exponential Growth

by Sai Koppala
Chief Marketing Officer
Posted on Jun 11, 2018 4 min read

The end of the school year is here, and while students get to enjoy their break, marketers need to kick their plans for back-to-school programs into high gear. College students present a huge opportunity, particularly for software companies. Is a student seeding strategy part of your plan?

If not, you’re missing out.

When you make your software available to college students for free or at a deep discount, you’re not only gaining new customers today,  you’re planting seeds that will reap tremendous benefits over time because students:

  • Love to share with their peers.
  • Have a strong track record of converting to full-price customers after graduation.
  • Will bring their software proficiencies and preferences with them into the working world.

Seed Marketing Taps into the Vast Potential of the Student Segment

College students are a ripe group of prospects. According to Deloitte’s most recent survey, back-to-college spending is poised to outpace other back-to-school spending by nearly two times, and 93 percent of college-bound students plan to buy college supplies. With 66 million college-bound students globally and 26 million in the US alone, college students have more than $560 billion in buying power.

Software companies stand to gain the most from a student seeding strategy because college students are tech-obsessed and always on the prowl for good deals. Nearly half of students plan to buy electronic gadgets and digital subscriptions, and 76% consider themselves to be budget conscious going into back-to-college shopping season.

76% of students say they're budget conscious when shopping for college.

Seed Marketing Creates Loyalty that Spreads

Seeding your market with a student offer establishes a positive relationship with students when their brand affiliations are still forming. And their enthusiasm for your brand is contagious. College students are highly social, and when they find a tool they love at a great price, sharing the “great deal” with their peers is rewarding.

Studies show these connections endure. College students have about a 10-year customer lifecycle preference. And according to research, 60 percent of millennial consumers, who are now out of college and in the workforce, said they are “often” or “always” loyal to brands that they currently purchase. Getting a lock on those loyalties early pays off.

Exclusive Student Offers Facilitate Full-Priced Adoption

Our work with major brands bears this out. For example, a leading music subscription  service converts 98 percent of their student discount customers to full price after graduation using SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform.

How Student Seed Marketing Programs Create Exponential Growth Infographic

Tableau, which provides their interactive data visualization and business intelligence software products to verified college students in 44 countries for free, is another great example. Not only do the students graduate with a proficiency in their software, many turn into paying customers who then bring their data visualization and BI tools and expertise with them into the professional world.

This kind of stickiness is invaluable. As students become proficient with your software, their commitment to it becomes so deep they will fight to have their new employers adopt it. Once students are familiar with your product, they have as much of a stake in it as you do.

Digital Verification Multiplies the Value of Seed Marketing Programs

Successful student seed marketing programs rely on the ability to verify an individual’s eligibility, and using digital verification does that and more. With digital verification, students happily provide their personal information to receive the discount, and their eligibility is instantly verified. This opt-in exchange gives brands data they can then use for nurture and retention programs.  

For example, brands can create gated forums that give student customers the opportunity to ask questions, share best practices, and develop their own following as power-users. Direct connections like these enable marketers to establish student communities in a way that isn’t possible when software companies only engage in blanket licensing agreements at the university level.

Student gathering best practices by chatting in a gated forum.

Digital verification also prevents fraud and makes reverifying and converting students easy. Companies that only require a .edu address to redeem an offer risk losing money to graduates and former students who often keep their .edu addresses long after they’ve graduated.

Conversely, when companies know that eligibility has expired, they can begin monetizing the relationships by inviting the former students to purchase their product.

Digital verification also allows a company to securely provide students with access to a full version of the software. This eliminates the need to create “student versions” with separate SKUs that offer an inferior product experience and require extra time and resources to manage.

Create a Secure and Fruitful Seed Marketing Program with SheerID

SheerID’s Digital Verification platform can secure your student offers and help you create long-term relationships with a loyal, and ultimately profitable, audience. Contact us to learn how you can establish a powerful and cost-effective student seeding program.