The need for a robust digital marketing strategy in Higher Education

Feb 19
Author:Ash Natesh
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There are many obstacles to building a digital marketing strategy for an educational organisation, starting with its size (a whole university is a universe on its own, with many different departments and interest groups), and ending at different target audiences you need to reach.

Why Is Digital Marketing Strategy for Higher Education Important?

Prospective students, as well as their parents, are looking for information about campuses, courses and other relevant aspects of students’ life online.You need an all-around marketing strategy, starting with a strong social media presence, through digital communication methods that include not only emails but also messenger bots and ending at university blogs.

According to Statista, almost 18% of high school students browse through universities’ Instagram accounts multiple times a day. The number will increase in the future. The new demographic expects you to manage multiple social media accounts, provide engaging content on a regular basis, and reply almost instantly to their messages.

Obstacles in Higher Education Marketing

There are many obstacles that come with digital marketing strategies in higher education namely:

Different audiences

The first step to setting up a marketing plan is to create an ideal client and analyse all the information, for example, demographic data, but also information about their hobbies and interests.

The more information you can gather, the better.

When it comes to creating client personas for digital marketing strategy, the problem is the size of the audience.

An ideal start would be to target five separate groups:

  • prospective students and their parent
  • currently enrolled students
  • alumni
  • possible donors
  • possible new hires

The size of a university

Most universities resemble a corporation, with different departments, faculties, and communities interacting with each other. The problem with implementing a digital marketing strategy is, therefore, twofold.

Firstly, all the marketing activities should align together. It’s hard, considering all the different target audiences and messages, but many universities’ digital marketing strategies proved it can be done.

Secondly, all the parties need to be empowered to adjust the strategy to their needs. You can’t deliver the same message to your prospective students and professors or staff members you would like to hire.

The size of educational institutions is both a blessing and a curse. It might be hard to reach a consensus and work out a decision-making process that won’t take ages to implement.

But it also means you have the people to work with.

Tracking brand reputation

Having a great digital marketing strategy won’t help you if you don’t have an impeccable brand reputation.

Your reputation precedes you, so make sure that any negative opinions Internet users might find about your institution are taken care of.

Receiving a negative review is not the end of the world. On the contrary, it might boost your online presence and establish your reputation.

Effective Higher Education Digital Marketing Strategies

User-generated content

Your students are your greatest assets’ is not just an empty slogan. They are natives in the world of digital marketing and probably are already producing a lot of valuable content you could use.

To make it easy to find the content you need, promote your branded hashtag. That’s a unique hashtag you can use for every photo you post on Instagram, every tweet or Facebook post.

“We have a proprietary alumni network that brings together the alumni and is a closed community”.  Alums log into it to search, contact, and email other alums; claim a email account, and create a personalized web page with verified degree info, links to social profiles, and more”.  Christina Sponselli, Director of Social Media, UC Berkeley California

Great visuals

We buy with our eyes, and that’s even truer when it comes to social media. That’s why it’s important to present your university in an aesthetic way.

A solid social media presence will help with your prospective students, people that are currently enrolled are looking for something different. They already know how great your campus is, what they’re looking for is information. Providing information in a visually appealing manner would attract new recruits easily.

Manage university reputation

An ongoing good reputation is important for all your stakeholders. That’s why it’s vital to keep your eye on the ball and react on time to all negative reactions on the Internet.

Sentiment analysis for higher education institutions

When it comes to managing university brand reputation, take a closer look at sentiment analysis.

It will help you react in time to all the negative mentions and nip the problem in the bud. Bad news travels fast, and bad news on social media travels even faster. That’s why it’s vital to react on time to all negative mentions and show your proactive approach.

Influencer marketing for universities

Influencer marketing is not only for fashion or beauty brands. As a higher education institution, you can benefit from an influencer marketing campaign as well.

The key to a successful influencer marketing campaign for universities is thorough research.

The Future of Higher Education Marketing

International recruitment is the future of higher education. More and more universities are competing for the attention of international applicants. Their marketing departments are already working at full force to reach their target audiences.

Universities need to understand the marketplace they will have to operate in. The admission targets will become more strict, and a digital marketing strategy should target precisely defined groups, for example, alumni, prospective students, or possible donors.

Don’t miss digital marketing insights from the likes of Shannon Tricklebank, Strategy Manager Marketing & Customer Experience at Bond University who will be sharing his insights on ‘Creating a frictionless user experience through digital systems’ at the Maximising Digital Marketing Strategies for Higher Education, 19th & 20th March 2019, Sydney.

Submitted by Ash Natesh

Ash Natesh

Ash is the Content Marketer at Criterion Conferences. Writing and sourcing content is all part of her day to day routine. She can’t stop drinking coffee, other than coffee her interests lie in Music, long walks amidst the mountains, Dance, Anime, Science Fiction and all things nerdy!

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