Traditionally, higher education marketing primarily focused on raising awareness of and generating interest in university programs by traditional means: print advertising, radio & television, and email marketing. In recent years, SEO and paid search ads were added to the mix.
While this marketing mix has been generally effective, many institutions are enlisting Marketing Agencies savvy in Multi-Channel Digital Marketing, Social Engagement, and Marketing Automation to shape strategy, strengthen their brand, increase their reach, and drive enrollment numbers.
The current and future generations of enrollment prospects have grown up listening to a decade of news reports portraying higher education as a clear path to cumbersome student debt, leaving them to question the value obtaining a degree, or question the value of earning an online degree versus a degree from an established, brick and mortar university.
Additionally, the marketing landscape in general has change dramatically with the advent of the internet, the rise of social media, and the proliferation of hundreds of cable, dish TV, and satellite radio choices. Determining who your target audience is, what kind of brand message they will resonate with, and where they spend their time, are critical steps in crafting your marketing strategy.
Branding…Crafting your brand message to fit the “persona” of your potential new student base is critical, as is leveraging that brand identity and messaging across all your marketing channels and media.
Speaking of Media, is your institution driving engagement and brand awareness with Video? People are indundated with advertising everywhere they go, and they will tend to jump on any opportunity to be entertained and enlivened. Statistics show that roughly half of internet users watch up to an hour of online video daily, and that marketing programs that include video show markedly faster revenue returns. Keeping in mind that all video content should be crafted to speak to your target marketing segments, such as real stories about real people just like them. In addition to scripted video content, Live Videos are trending right now. A current student live streaming his/her experience at an event on your campus bears more influence than an expensive Facebook ad. That leads us to Social Media.
While everyone is aware by now that Social Mediais the place to be if you want to be found by young adults, how are you utilizing Social Media? In addition to paid social ads, are you using Social Listening to manage your brand reputation? Are you locating and enlisting Social Influencers and positive Reviews to lend credibility and confidence in your brand? Are your social marketing campaigns separate from your other channels, or are they part of a comprehensive, multi-channel campaign that guides the viewer down a path to ultimately make a decision?
I mentioned earlier that people in general, but especially Gen Zs, are indundated with ads every day. This means that you have less time (8 seconds, to be exact) to stand out among a sea of ads and content, and make an emotional impact that leads them to a decision to stop what they are doing, and click on your ad, link, blog, or video. Eight seconds.
Let’s not forget to consider the Deviceyour user may be using when they come across your content. Are all your campaigns, internet properties, and digital media optimized for mobile and tablet, as well as desktop? Mobile optimization is critical, because if a page doesn’t load correctly within the time frame of a few seconds, the user will click away in frustration.
With various device platforms in mind, you may consider adding geo-targeted ads to your marketing mix. Also, consider which social platforms your potential students visit on their phones, such as YouTube and SnapChat.
Email Marketing is still a highly effective tool, but not in the traditional sense. Marketing Automation tools allow you to customize your content based on your various target market segments. This creates a personalized experience that the viewer will be more apt to actually read, instead of marking the email as spam.
Marketing Automation also allows you to incorporate Content Marketing, such as informative blog posts, or relevant, helpful downloadable PDFs or eBooks. Viewers can click a link in their email, and your marketing automation platform will notify you if and when they clicked. This information can be used to send the user down a conversion funnel, and/or notify an admissions representative to reach out to this interested person. Additionally, all these campaigns, call to action clicks, link clicks and content downloads are part of your Analytics Dashboard, allowing you to fine-tune your campaigns, and invest more in the ones that are more effective.
Speaking of Analytics, advanced marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot and Infusionsoft have applied advanced software engineering to simplify the formerly arduous and disconnected task of Measuring the efficacy of your multi-channel campaigns, and prove ROI. The chart below, courtesy HubSpot Research, illustrates that generating leads and proving return on investment as their biggest challenges.
While targeted, segmented, mutli-channel and multi-media marketing campaigns are effective and necessary, they require a lot of resources in order to execute effectively, and they can be costly if they are not orchestrated correctly. For these reasons, more and more institutions turn to Digital Marketing Agencies, such as Overit, to help them navigate the landscape of everything digital, and ultimately, grow revenue.