Each and every day universities across the globe are introducing innovative programs to increase the employability of students. Universities have the resources to deliver these cutting-edge programs, but the question becomes, how do they raise awareness and degree desirability when students today have many options? From on campus stalwart institutions to online schools and programs, all of these institutions are competing for students and their dollars.
The desired audience for most higher education master’s degrees is typically a millennial (individuals born between 1981-1996), with experience ranging anywhere from a recent college graduate to someone with 5 to 15 years on the job.
These are unique individuals as they grew up in the digital age and are considered to be socially, technologically and marketing savvy individuals. Discover five marketing tips to effectively connect with this audience in today’s higher education space:
1. Leverage Your Ecosystem
Before you begin your marketing strategy, it’s imperative to audit your current marketing ecosystem. An outdated website can easily have a negative impact on your conversion rates. Communication assets need to be relevant and in the right format (i.e., video). And your faculty members need to have updated LinkedIn profiles.
To begin the process of leveraging your existing ecosystem begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a mobile-optimized website that loads quickly, has optimal UX and engaging content that students are searching for?
- Do you have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place to help nurture leads and matriculate students through an in-depth application process?
- Do you have video, image and content assets that are relevant for your social media space?
2. Track, Measure and Optimize Towards Your Business Goals
To determine whether or not an institution’s strategy is effective and what needs to be changed, you must track and understand the data. It’s critical to create a strategy to measure the data you’re collecting and prioritize its implementation that includes:
- Identify your most important KPIs and set specific goals.
- Identify and create a goal conversion outline based on your user journey.
- Use a tag management system and set up your website analytics goal conversions to include engagement and intent site actions and group them into either micro and macro conversions.
- Using micro conversions will help provide enough data to reach data thresholds for campaign optimizations.
Macro conversions can be those actions where a prospect provides their contact information including those that are likely to lead to Admission-qualified leads. For example, if webinar attendees are more likely to start and complete an application, count the event RSVP submit action as a macro conversion.
3. Have a Content/Messaging Strategy
Today’s media landscape has advanced into a number of screens and technologies, which has a profound impact on the behavior of the intended audience. As a result, communicating your value proposition has also evolved. Creative, messaging, content and communications have multiplied and proliferated into different sized pieces. For example:
- A 30-second time slot used to be the industry standard, however, today the market can accommodate a 2-minute-long video or a 15- or 10-second spot. The question for marketers is how should you tell your story?
- Using stock photos on Instagram is a big no-no. Humanizing the brand is key to communicating your message.
- Sequential messaging, content and segmentation means you or your agency needs to produce more to serve contextually relevant communications to users at different stages.
4. Do Not Neglect the Full Marketing Funnel
Those who focus exclusively on lower lead-gen tactics will soon be behind the curve. The number of prospects will eventually begin to run low.
A full funnel approach makes the most sense as tactics can complement and work together. For example, Tactic A can drive a lot of site traffic (upper funnel) and micro conversions, whereas Tactic B can retarget those users through a different channel with sequential messaging, content and appropriate CTA.
5. Test & Fail For Success
This should go without saying, but trial and error is the key to creating an effective marketing strategy in this age of constant change. To build an arsenal of top performing tactics, marketers have to continually test new vendors, ad formats and placements to stay ahead of the marketplace. Here are a few simple rules: test with small investments, move your budget from low to high performers, and challenge partners to mitigate complacency in order to exceed your goals.
Within the last decade, marketing for higher education has become increasingly digital as consumers become increasingly engaged with digital technology and devices. These are some of the tips that can help you effectively market in the higher education space.
— Yooyung Kim Imsland, media director BMCX division of DMI