While higher education has been successful in the past, COVID-19 and other outside issues may require changes to the model. For many smaller universities, losing the income from on-campus residences and food plans for an entire semester, possibly longer, is a major financial hit. However, this immediate threat could be disguising longer-term issues. Due to the high cost of education, many students are opting to do community college first to save money. Others are skipping college altogether, choosing to learn skilled trades, and taking advantage of the high demand.
Top Marketing Methods For Higher Education
Methodology means everything when it comes to marketing. Higher-learning institutions find it more important than ever to get prospective students. Thus, prospecting requires letting as many students as possible know about your institution and its offering. What are some of the channels that are seeing the most success?
1. Personalized Social Media
Reaching recent high-school graduates and college-age students on social media seems like the most obvious step. Young people use social media—your base of prospective students is young people. Sounds like a perfect fit, right?
Of course, you should be on social media in some form, but you can’t expect to simply dump the same base ad on every platform and see success. Instead, institutions need to be taking a more personalized approach.
How does this play out in practice? Platforms like Instagram and Facebook make it easy for you to gear different ad campaigns to different students that target their interests. For example, if you have a prominent study abroad program, you can target potential students with interest in travel. At the same time, if you have a particular program of study that’s well-acclaimed, you can target students with similar sets of interests. You can also adjust these for geographic location and other factors.
2. Event Marketing
While digital marketing is an important element for reaching potential students, it’s not the only option on the table. At some point, the students will want to see what your university looks like, and smart event marketing can help paint the right picture. This type of approach means finding event ideas that combine fun and recreation with information about your institution and its benefits.
3. Showcasing Alumni
Practicality matters as well. More and more students are concerned about their job prospects after graduation, which is why you want to take the time to alleviate those fears by incorporating alumni into your marketing. This approach helps build bridges with alumni to get their participation and shows that you can provide long-term success. It’s not just enough to show that alumni of your school are getting excellent jobs, but that their education played a key role in their success.
Also, you can use this time to share information about campus life. No one will know what a college feels like more than a past student, so it can be a great opportunity to add some authenticity to your messaging.
4. Video Marketing Campaigns
No digital marketing campaign is going to see serious success without video marketing. Video marketing is most effective at:
- Maintaining viewer focus
- Communicating points
- Driving viewers to conversions
All of these are extremely important when trying to convince someone about a decision as big as choosing a college. However, not all video content is created equal. Not only do you need to invest in top-level filming and editing quality, but you also need a plan on how you are going to distribute the video. Do you have existing social media channels? If you have a YouTube channel, how will you promote the channel and keep up the content? Return on investment is critical for video marketing.
5. Digital Reputation Management
Your prospective audience as a college/university has a digital focus like no other. They are online for social interactions and recreation, but they are also deeply plugged into causes and activism. Scandals on campus can go viral in an instant, and statistics show that this can have a pronounced impact on your admissions. As a result, every institution of higher learning should invest in reputation management on some level.
What does this mean in practice? Generally, it means creating and promoting content that presents as favorable an image of the university as possible. Most reputation management experts do this by building up the SEO profile of your university. It’s possible to make sure the highest-ranking sites paint your university in the best possible light by creating positive content optimized for specific keywords. Of course, reputation management doesn’t give you the ability to squash the truth. Thus, it would be best if you were looking into PR support as well.
Why An Integrated Marketing Campaign Is Superior
Any of the previously mentioned tactics can work well for your higher-learning institution. However, there’s always going to be a cap on your success if you only use one method of marketing. Not every student is going to use one marketing channel. For another thing, outside trends in the world may impact the effectiveness of one platform over another. For example, say that you put all your money into ads on one social media platform. College-age students start to migrate to another platform. Suddenly, your campaign became a lot less effective through no action of your own.
Issues like these are why all colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning need to consider an integrated marketing campaign. Here are a few key reasons why this approach is needed to ramp up student recruitment.
- Competitive advantage. Because many other colleges won’t look into integrated marketing, you have an instant leg up over the competition. This advantage results in not only a larger marketing presence, but also a more refined one. Integrated marketing makes it easier to zero in on the type of students most likely to go to your university.
- Overall savings. Price is one of the first reasons many universities opt to skip over integrated marketing, but you need to think long-term. It’s more cost-effective to do five different methods through one provider verse using for those same five methods from five different providers.
- Consistent brand messaging. Arguably the most important benefit of integrated marketing. Say that you decide you want to get into video and social media marketing. However, you do social media in-house and hire a freelancer to do the video. The two interpretations of your brand principles may be wildly different, which hurts your marketing effectiveness. Thus, an agency like Glint can ensure consistency with your brand voice.
While an integrated marketing campaign is the best way for higher education institutions to reach prospective students, it’s also arguably the most complicated. You have to understand multiple marketing methods, but you also need the funds and workforce to make a serious foray into all of them. Developing compelling creative for numerous marketing channels, and managing them well, can be daunting for in-house marketing teams to do on their own.
By turning to outside marketing agencies, higher education can get the specialized outreach they need without spreading their resources too thin. However, to reap these benefits, they need a combination of expertise and experience from their industry partners. Partnering with professionals like Glint Advertising can provide unique integrations across both digital and traditional tactics. We offer consultation and have resources to generate a specialized integrated marketing strategy that can help take your higher-learning institution to the next level.