Have you ever wondered what sorcery renowned universities and colleges use to attract more and more students consistently? Well, you’re not alone. Many higher ed marketers struggle to develop marketing campaign ideas that can attract the right student leads.

Saint Louis University or Binghamton University always top the list of the most prestigious universities in the US because of their marketing efforts.

‍It all comes down to marketing. How effectively your university executes its digital marketing strategy and ad campaigns will ultimately determine how many students you can enroll in your programs. Discover what’s new in higher education marketing trends and how to use them to enhance your university’s digital marketing strategy. To develop a stellar digital marketing strategy for your university, you must dissect what your competitors are doing. You must know how to run the best marketing campaigns for universities to attract the right student leads. 

Get Inspired by our Marketing Campaigns Ideas for Higher Education

‍To help you with that, we have rounded up the 15 best marketing campaigns for universities from which you can take inspiration. So without wasting, let’s get started…

1. Saint Louis University: Best Student Admissions Page

We all love getting the information we need. But getting bombarded with too much information can be a dealbreaker. When prospecting, students only want to see the information that is relevant to them. Saint Louis University has done just that with its admissions page.

To offer a personalized experience to its website visitors, Saint Louis University has created a unique admissions page where prospective students can answer questions like the ones below to explore everything the university offers.

  • What do you want to study?
  • Where do you call home?
  • Where do you see yourself a year after college graduation?
Best Student Admissions Page

Rather than overwhelming prospecting students with everything your university offers, it is best to present students with information based on their preferences. This higher ed marketing campaign is great because it effectively uses Salesforce tools to capture student information to populate the university’s leads pool.

2. University of California Los Angeles – Trend Jacking

Here is another best university social media campaign example that we really like. This one is from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). It is the perfect example of how universities can leverage a trending event to boost brand awareness.

Take a look at this:

During the hype of the coronavirus pandemic, UCLA ran this ad on Instagram and Facebook from March to April 2020. The ad enticed people to download a bunch of background images showcasing UCLA campus buildings to be used for video calls.

How did this campaign help UCLA?

Well, by running their ad at the time when the search term “Zoom background” spiked, UCLA was able to hijack the trend to increase its brand awareness effectively. Whenever anyone downloaded their background images, they also effectively did brand positioning for the university.

3. Binghamton University – Leveraging Memes

Humor in marketing always works – granted, it’s not offensive. It works great in higher ed marketing too. Based on an actual study, viewers receive humorous content such as skits and memes more favorably than serious videos. That said when choosing humorous content to fit into your higher education marketing strategy, ensure it resonates with your audience.

Here’s an example from Binghamton University when it leveraged the Bernie Sanders meme to increase its brand awareness.

The reason why this post managed to get relevant engagement is that Bernie Sanders himself used to teach at Binghamton University back in the 1990s. Not only was this post funny, but it also effectively marketed the university.

4. Saint Xavier University: Benefiting From User-Generated Content (UGC)

Higher-ed Facebook marketing campaigns don’t necessarily have to be expensive. By utilizing user-generated content (UGC), universities can communicate their message to the right people. UGC content is powerful. People value the opinion of their peers. Instead of being convinced by random ads online, students find reviews left by genuine students more trustworthy and valuable. 

Saint Xavier University did just that. It encouraged its students to write blogs to talk about their first-year experience at the university.

How is this helpful?

Well, the blogs that students write serve as a knowledge base for other students. All the blogs get published on Saint Xavier University’s Facebook page by SXU Cougar Diaries. Students write blogs on a variety of topics, all related to their experience at Saint Xavier University. 

By harnessing its students, SXU can effectively convey its message that appeals to prospective students. Without any doubt, content marketing is very impactful for universities, colleges, and schools likewise.

5. University of Central Missouri – Talking About Student’s Pain Points 

The best way to grasp the attention of prospective students is to talk about their pain points. It can be considered the most successful marketing campaign for university organizations. The University of Central Missouri ran a campaign where they did just that. They know how to run a marketing campaign for the university.

1B stories shared every day across the Facebook family of apps

Facebook stories ads are a great way to reach out to potential customers with content that speaks directly to their needs. With careful targeting, you can hone in on the exact pain points that your target audience is facing, and craft an ad designed to solve their problems.

Think Orion has been helped education providers get noticed by the right students, increasing traffic and applications while decreasing costs.


Their higher education social media marketing team researched what students worry about the most. Based on that, the University of Central Missouri developed a higher education campaign covering its audience’s pain points. They know that their potential students worry about two things majorly: Worry about choosing the right major and fees/debt.

The University of Central Missouri created an ad campaign on Facebook and Instagram that covered students’ pain points. Their ad also highlighted that their institution had been around for 150 years, which helped them build trust.

6. Skyline College: Engaging Video Content

We all know that video content is more engaging than textual content. You can better explain your school’s programs to prospective students using video content.

Skyline College from San Bruno, California, did just that. They leveraged the power of video content to talk about their Promise Scholars Program. They utilized Google Ads to promote their 2-year scholarship program. But what’s so great about their video?

Well, go ahead and watch it yourself first. If you don’t have the time for that, let us break it down for you. Skyline College’s Promise Scholars Program video covers not just their scholarship program but also covers how easy it is for prospective students to join Skyline. It makes their school easily accessible and approachable. 

Their video does a great job of directly engaging with Skyline’s target audience by:

  • Highlighting their campus’ diversity
  • Highlighting the degree programs their school offers
  • Answer all the questions related to their 2-year scholarship program
 Skyline College: Engaging Video Content

All in all, the presentation of information related to their college in chronological order makes their degree program seem easy. It encourages prospective students to enroll in their programs. These college marketing campaign ideas attract the most ideal students. 

7. New York University

Sports connect people. Sports teach students essential life skills, such as facing competition when finding or retaining jobs. Every higher ed institution should have sports programs. There’s no question about it. But depending on which part of the world your university is located in, some sports are particularly popular. For example, in the US, football is really popular. In fact, American football has roughly around 400 Million fans.

But what if your university doesn’t have a football team?

Well, we can all learn a thing or two from New York University (NYU). NYU doesn’t have a football team, which can be a major turn-off for many students who desire an athletic and social college life.

So what did NYU do about this problem?

NYU hasn’t had a football program since 1953. However, it does have various other sports programs. Considering that, the marketing team at NYU created a Facebook video series promoting all the other sports programs like Archery, baton twirler, and Nascar. So, despite not having a football program, they still managed to market their other sports programs effectively. 

8. University of New South Wales – Multilingual Ads

When you promote your university on social channels, it’s likely to be seen by international student prospects. When targeting different audiences, there is no one size fits all approach. When creating content, you need to understand who you’re creating it for. Unless your content resonates with your target audience, it won’t be effective.

When it comes to creating targeted content, the University of New South Wales knows how to do just that. Since they have a pretty significant presence on Weibo, Sina, and other Chinese social sites, the university created multilingual ads to target students who aren’t native English speakers. This way, they effectively marketed their university to Chinese students who might consider studying in Australia.

9. University of Copenhagen – Virtual Campus Tours

Looking up universities online can seem like a huge risk. At least, that’s what most prospective students think. We don’t blame them. After all, thinking of moving to a different country and enrolling in a university can be overwhelming.

To make it easier for international students to understand what your university is like in real life, creating virtual tours can be highly effective. It can help prospective students get a feel for your institution.

University of Copenhagen’s campus virtual tour is an excellent example of how video content can be used effectively to remove doubts from the minds of international students. 

The University of Copenhagen allows website visitors to navigate various parts of the university building virtually. What’s also incredible about their virtual campus tour is that it is interactive. Students can click on different options which display information related to specific parts of the university faculty. 

For example, if you view their lab area in their virtual tour, you’ll see options to go through different videos of the department. If you’re curious to see what student life is like, at the University of Copenhagen, their virtual tour shows you that too.

10. Appalachian State University – Leveraging Their Beautiful Campus Location

Esthetics and the ambiance of a place are enough to attract prospects. We see this all the time in restaurants. Even if the food isn’t great, most of us really don’t care as long the place is aesthetically pleasing.

Appalachian State University leveraged its insanely beautiful campus locations to attract prospects. They created a 15-second TV commercial to highlight their beautiful campus location while being super specific about what Appalachian State University offers.

What made their TV commercial great was the fact that it resonated with the school’s personality.

11. Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) – User-Generated Content Done Right

Earlier, we discussed Saint Xavier University’s user-generated content approach to marketing. Another university that effectively leveraged UGC is Vancouver Island (VIU). To highlight the beauty of Vancouver Island, VIU came up with a student marketing campaign where they asked their students to post pictures of their outdoor lives at their university with the hashtag #ilearnhere.

The university choose the best shots and posted them on its official Instagram account, executing a perfect student-influenced social media campaign. The students created all the content and served as UGC for the university. User-generated content (UGC) has the power to create a wholesome environment for prospecting students.

12. ​​Augusta University: Best Total Marketing Program

Augusta University’s ads are student-focused, vibrant, and direct.

Check out their recent Facebook ad below:

Since the marketing team at Augusta knew that their target audience was on social media, they knew how to reach them. As part of their “like no other” campaign, they’ve recently launched many ads covering their campus diversity, academic environment, admissions, tuition fee, and more. 

You can check out all of their currently running Facebook ads here. Go through their ads and see how direct and engaging they are.

Universities must have a strong and consistent marketing and advertising campaign strategy to promote their institution and attract new students effectively. By creating a clear admission and enrollment funnel, prospective students will feel more comfortable engaging with your content and ultimately more confident in enrolling.

13. University of Chicago

Unique selling points (USP) and branding streamline your strategy and differentiate you. USP  assists your prospects in distinguishing between the various providers of products or services by making the brand an obvious choice with whom to invest their money, time, and trust.

Here’s an example of the University of Chicago, which distinguishes itself as a transformative education provider, delivering rigorous academics, intellectual curiosity, and a commitment to core competency.

University of Chicago Marketing Campaigns example

Source: UC Chicago

The Unversity of Chicago has established a consistent USP on all social media platforms, well-written in their description. The University is one of the world’s most fabulous intellectual destinations. 

Meanwhile, the branding strategy focuses on a timeless commitment to academic excellence, shaping leaders, and advancing knowledge. This approach attracts top-tier students and solidifies the institution’s global reputation as a bastion of intellectual inquiry.

14. University of Michigan

A sports marketing campaign is a great way to attract prospects, as it allows you to create brand awareness, generate interest, and engage a target audience. 

You can connect with prospects excellently through interactive activations at sports events, immersive brand campaigns, or experiential marketing initiatives.

sports marketing campaign of University of Michigan

Source: University of Michigan

Here’s an example of the University of Michigan employing a dynamic sports marketing strategy

The university creates a compelling narrative that resonates with sports enthusiasts and academically inclined individuals by leveraging successful sports programs. Sports marketing transcends barriers and unites individuals from all walks of life.

The University showcases its athletic prowess and commitment to excellence on social media platforms. This integrated marketing approach ensures the University of Michigan remains at the forefront of attracting a diverse and dynamic student body.

15. Princeton University

Creating a sense of exclusivity around a product can be a powerful way to generate buzz and attract people. Exclusivity in marketing a specific brand elicits many psychological rewards, such as a sense of belonging and importance.

Princeton University marketing campaigns

Source: Princeton

Here’s an example of Princeton University that focuses on exclusivity in marketing and has a mascot, a tiger that emerged as a symbol for the university. The iconic tiger embodies strength, rarity, and a unique identity, aligning with Princeton’s focus on distinction. 

Princeton effectively translates its traditional prestige into a modern context by maintaining an air of exclusivity throughout its digital landscape. The tiger becomes a visual emblem, conveying Princeton’s prestigious identity to a broad audience compellingly and memorably.

Final Thought!

Universities’ marketing campaigns usually focus on incoming freshmen, their parents, and alumni. These university and college advertising campaigns can be in the form of social media posts, print ads, or email newsletters. Universities are trying to update their technology and create an effective online course marketing strategy to increase more visibility that helps to lead generation for higher education.

You can also visit our ed-tech marketing services. To get more tips and guides, visit our learning hub!