Digital Marketing for Higher Education Is Changing Rapidly

15 Trends You Need To Know To Succeed In Digital Marketing for Higher Education in 2020

Digital marketing for higher education is changing at a faster and faster pace. And COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst. There has always been stiff competition in the educational sector, with institutions battling to secure the most brilliant students each year. However, in recent years, the competition has become even more stringent. 

More so, the tools of the competition have also changed remarkably. Before these times, traditional modes of marketing, e.g., the use of TV ads, billboards, and radio adverts, were the norm. At the moment, however, they are the exception. Presently, every institution worth its mettle is investing in digital marketing of its brand

The reasons for the transition to digital marketing are myriad. For one, students are becoming savvier and less susceptible to being won over by traditional marketing methods. Thus, the strategies of fore can no longer work on them. This informs the need for a targeted approach, combining the tools of social media, advertisement, SEO, PR, marketing technology. Hence, digital marketing.

Digital marketing offers ease to the recruitment process. Parents and students can have access to the institution’s website or social media platform, and make up their minds concerning what the institution is offering without having to leave their living rooms. This works to the benefit of both the parents and the higher education institutions. 

For higher education that is not so popular, this mainly works well for them. Digital platforms, like SharpSpring, offer a level playing field for everybody, making it possible for them to reach demographics they would hitherto not have been able to achieve.

Furthermore, it is less expensive than traditional marketing. The cost of running campaigns on social media cannot be compared to the minimum price it would take to place an advert on TV or the radio. Again, for higher education institutions without the big bucks and donor-money from alumni, digital marketing provides a cheaper and better-controlled alternative.

Finally, digital marketing can be more effective than traditional advertising. For instance, with a feature like geo-tagging, an institution can design campaigns that are better focused on their target audience.

Here are some of the educational digital marketing trends to follow in 2020.

Optimize your Website

Digital Marketing Education

Social media is indeed the go-to platform for millennials regarding everything ? including a search for schools. However, you should not neglect how vital your institution’s website is. 

Endeavor to make sure that your site is easily accessible, and that pertinent information relevant to an intending student will be found on it. Also, you should make visible any incentives that your institution provides. 

For instance, information relating to scholarships and financial aids should be immediately apparent on the site. These perks might be the primary deciding factor for students, especially as most students are afraid of being burdened with student loans. 

Thus, make sure that these concessions your institution provides are visible. There should also be a provision of contact information: students should not have to struggle to find a channel to reach you on. Optimizing your website is a digital marketing trend you should not hesitate to jump on.

Create an App for Higher Education is a Great Digital Marketing Tactic

An app is the easiest way to show that not only are you tech-savvy but that you are also proactive. There’s no end to what you can achieve with a mobile app. 

You can input the necessary information about the institution, offer courses, place information about tuition, and create channels for communication between the students and the school and the students themselves. 

Creating a mobile app and integrating your institution’s content on it is one way of using digital marketing trends to get ahead of the pack.

Virtual Tours in Higher Education 

A prospective student may want to visit your physical location but may be hampered by various factors, COVID-19 and cost are examples. On the one hand, the student may be working and thus not have the time to make a physical visit. 

Also, the student might be an international student who may not have the means or resources to afford a physical tour. In these instances, a virtual tour is an alternative means to open your institution doors to such individuals. 

By offering virtual tours, you will weigh in on the decision process, providing the student with a crucial element necessary for their decisions. 

Providing help to the student at this early stage is one way to pique their interest in your institution. Granting the student access to peek in from the outside is not only a sensible thing to do; it is also an excellent marketing idea.

Go Mobile with Your Higher Education Digital Marketing

What student doesn?t have a mobile phone these days? If you are yet to recognize how powerful mobile phones are with students, then you are wrong. A survey has shown that more than 75 percent of students prefer to get information from their mobiles than browsing with a desktop computer.

Mobile websites require speed to rank on Google.

Bearing this in mind, you have to design geo-targeted ads, especially for mobile phones. You can go further to optimize your content for mobile devices. When setting up your website, make sure that the videos and texts look great on handheld devices and not just laptops.

Furthermore, always make sure you check out how the video and audio quality of your ads are on mobile devices before you run them. Young people spend much time on their phones. Make sure you are taking the advert to them there specifically. 

Open a Higher Education Blog

Higher Education website

Another brilliant idea is to open a blog that is different from your institution’s website. The content of the blog can be different too. 

You can make it student-centric, putting up posts mainly geared towards students’ needs. You can even go a step further and let the students run it themselves. 

A blog will improve your rankings on search engines and give prospective students one more place to check you out before making a decision. 

Social Media is King if You Want to Go Viral

Higher Education social media

There are no better means to engage with young people (and prospective students) than through social media. 

Before this time, educational institutions paid no attention to social media. They usually were either non-existent on those platforms or had dormant accounts. However, the tides have changed. 

At the moment, the suggestion is not only to have and operate a functional institution-owned social media page, but it is also expected that you should have accounts on the several platforms available.

It is no longer enough to just have an account on Facebook and Twitter. Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are viable areas you can tap into. For instance, Instagram has surpassed 1 billion users, with a significant percentage of young persons. Having an account on these platforms is a digital trend that you will be wise to get behind.

Engage Chatbots to Solve Students Needs

As you work to recruit more students to your institution, a crucial area to pay attention to is customer care service. At the primary stages, it is expected that the students would have several questions. It might happen that you may not have the means to provide 24/7 support and replies to the inquiries. This is where you need a chatbot.

Chatbots are specially designed Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that communicates with users and helps them to solve their problems. Chatbots communicate through textboxes, although in some cases, verbal communication is possible. 

They get better with anticipating needs and providing solutions with the more time they interact with humans. Chatbots save you the time and money to be spent on human resources.

As a digital marketing tool, chatbots are excellent for improving student satisfaction. It makes sure that there is a constant system to solve any problems the students will have. It projects the institution as responsive and endears them to the student through this means.

Offer Online Courses

Higher Education students

With the explosion of technology and its integration with teaching, there is a greater imperative for online courses and distance learning. Considering the realities of the moment informed by the pandemic, distance learning is quickly becoming more of a necessity.

Offering online courses is a means to encourage students’ interest in your institution. This is because more colleges are offering certifications from online courses. Also, a lot more students are engaging in distance learning. 

Apart from technology being a significant cause of this, some students may opt for online courses for economic reasons. It is cheaper and affords them the flexibility to have a side job while obtaining their certificate. 

Furthermore, students in other countries can get degrees through this means. Taking into consideration how increasingly difficult it is for oversea students to obtain loans and student visas, online courses are a viable alternative. 

When you offer online courses, you automatically gain access to students in this demographic. Eventually, circumstances may change, and the students may have the means to be on campus physically. You can bet that you will be the first choice for such students then.

Video Marketing

The era of text-only marketing is gone. Even for an educational institution, you cannot depend on text-only advertising. You have to realize that people in this highly digitalized world want to watch videos more than read texts. 

More so, people are more likely to share video content than a text advert. Video marketing is compelling because it draws the user in, and makes them experience the content firsthand. Visual content is the rave of the moment because people are most impressed by and attracted to the things they can see. 

The color and graphics are also appealing and work well, especially with young adults. For instance, if you want to advertise how fantastic your educational facilities are, what better means to do that than through a video? 

Video marketing is a digital trend you have to add to your campaign.

Live Streaming in Higher Education 

This is closely related to video marketing, although there are key differences. While video marketing involves pre-recording videos and sharing them, intending to use it as an advertising tool, live streaming consists of making the videos at the moment and streaming at the same time.

Live streaming is such a cool feature and is popular with young adults. It is a means to get campus events recorded and shared with viewers in real-time. 

While pre-recorded videos have to be edited before release, no such thing is done for live streaming. This way, it makes streaming appear more authentic and relatable. 

Personalized Email Marketing for Digital Marketing for Higher Education

Email communication is a trend that has continued to exist because of its effectiveness. Even with the emergence of social media and mobile phones, millions of emails are still sent out each day. Your digital marketing for higher education requires marketing technology to handle the 1:1 student email workflows.

What is more, emails are not used only for official purposes. They are used for business and even in academic settings. Email marketing is a digital trend you cannot afford to neglect.

However, in engaging email marketing as a tool for recruiting students, you have to note a few things. Firstly, you must realize that generic marketing emails will not work in this scenario. 

You have to look for means to personalize the emails so that they speak to the students directly and obtain the results that you need. Thus, you have to do some research concerning the particular types of students that you want to set out for. 

Your inquiry will include such factors as their hobbies, constant searches, etc. before tailoring your email towards them. Do not just dump the email into their inbox; follow up with a promotional video or blog post. 

When the student responds, make sure the interest is sustained. It is not just enough to send out mass emails. Keep up to ensure the desired result is obtained.

Engage the Power of Testimonials

Excellent reviews and feedback are powerful marketing techniques. Whether for marketing goods or services, unbiased reviews boost your reputation and can help convince stragglers about your competence. 

You only need to look at the premium placed on Amazon product reviews to understand the power of social proofs. To be effective, the reviews should be from both alumni and current students. 

Having great reviews from both ends will act as a testimony to the unchanging nature of your brand. 

You should try to spread out the review across several demographics, paying attention to inclusivity. Notably, the individuals doing the reviews should reflect diversity. This should be of great importance to you if you are interested in scoring some international students. 

As a digital marketing trend, you will have to incorporate it into your online brand, perhaps on your website or blog. For both websites and blog posts, reviews can boost your organic search and increase your reach. 

Also, do the same for social media. Social media allows you to reach a broad audience, especially when you also engage in target advertising to specific groups. 

Consider Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves engaging people who have a large following on social media to market a product or service. Here, the influencer shares their experience and encourages their followers to purchase the goods or services. 

Influencers, through this means, lend credibility to what they are trying to market. This works much the same way as having alumni give reviews about their alma mater. 

However, in this case, the influencers to be used are key student leaders who have a measure of influence over students. This is a win-win situation for both the school and the students because they will obtain popularity from the adverts, and the school leverages on their reputation. 

Keep an Eye on Your Search Rankings

Digital Marketing universities

SEO is a crucial component of the digital marketing process for higher education. It determines how well you rank on search engines. This should be of concern to you because the more persons who view your website, the higher the chances of recruiting students from them. 

Specifically, you need to pay attention to the keywords you make use of. Continually modifying and expanding your keywords is the only way to remain relevant. Also, pay attention to your nets descriptions.

A gripping narrative about your institution is more likely to inform the interest of a young person than generic descriptions. Don’t be deceived: students do read the descriptions you put out. Thus, make them worth the read. 

Make use of Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing gained popularity in 2019 and was bandied about by many marketers. However hackneyed it is now, its strategies are still quite useful.

Omnichannel marketing involves an integrated approach to marketing across multiple platforms, including social media, email marketing, apps, and blogs. It emphasizes communicating with users across these platforms simultaneously.

Omnichannel marketing helps you develop a consistent brand voice. When this is utilized across the various touchpoints, better user experience is guaranteed. 

There is better output and results because you will be engaging with students across different points and with the same message. More so, employing the same strategy across all fronts is a wise utilization of resources.

Omnichannel marketing makes use of AI technology. AI and big data help brands understand consumer patterns on a personalized level. 

Higher education institutions can also employ this. When student behavior is studied, and strategies are used explicitly, better results are guaranteed in the case of omnichannel marketing

Wrap Up on Digital Marketing for Higher Education

Digital marketing is popular because of the importance young people place on social media and the digital space generally. 

From sharing information to dating, all is conducted online. This explains the popularity of dating sites like, where people begin chatting online and eventually get to start dating.

However, it is one thing to enumerate trends that should be followed; it is another to stick to them. How can you adhere to the trends to make sure they are useful?

The first step is recognizing the trends and applying them. After this, you should be looking for ways to maintain consistency. The digital trends ought to help put you out there and place you ahead of the competition

However, to make sure that it is not a one-off situation, you have to maintain some consistency. There are several ways to do that. Firstly, you need to prioritize the most effective channels. Some people often mistake trying to be on all of the marketing platforms at the same time. 

That is a sure recipe for disaster. This is because, apart from the fact that it is almost impossible to be active on all the platforms at the same time, that route is a needlessly expensive endeavor. 

You have to determine the platforms that are most important to you and prioritize them. In doing this, it might be necessary to consider such factors as what platforms your prospective students most frequently use, what platform would get you the most engagement, and what platform you already have a measure of a following.

Next, measuring success is another critical area you might want to pay attention to. There is no point going through the elaborate process of deciding on a strategy and following through with it faithfully if you don’t pay attention to know if it works. 

As you implement the strategy, you have to know what works and what doesn’t, and that will only be possible if you are paying attention to, and measuring your results. Work on creating a channel for evaluation and feedback concerning the strategies being implemented and the results (or lack of) experienced from them. 

When you do this, appreciate what works, take note of what doesn’t, and why it doesn’t, take a step further to make changes.

Finally, do not forget that the focus is on your audience at every point. The trends are designed to woo the students and make your institution the destination for aspiring students. 

Thus, you need to get to know them. Find out who they are, where they are from, what age range they are in, and how your institution is poised to fulfill whatever needs they have. There are several other strategies you can employ than those discussed here. For further reading, you may want to consider them.

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General FAQs for Digital Marketing for Higher Education

Are digital marketing trends limited to social media?

No. Although digital marketing trends include strategies to optimize social media, it is broader than that.

Isn’t digital marketing expensive for higher education?

Not necessarily. Especially when compared with traditional marketing/advertising. It also offers a higher Return on Investment (ROI). Engaging in digital marketing is the cheapest means to get students to be interested in your institution.

Do you need special skills to engage in digital marketing?

The short answer is No. If you want to take up digital marketing as a career, then skills like video editing, SEO, and data analysis are essential. However, no prior qualifications are needed to implement digital marketing trends in your institution.

Is my institution guaranteed a turnaround with the implementation of these digital trends?

Countless research has shown that implementing digital marketing trends yields positive results in most cases.?

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