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12 Best Marketing Campaigns for Universities

12 Best Marketing Campaigns for Universities

Have you ever wondered what sorcery do renowned universities and colleges use to consistently attract more and more students?


Well, you’re not alone.


A lot of higher ed marketers struggle to come up with marketing campaigns that can attract the right student leads.


The reason why Saint Louis University or Binghamton University always top the list of the most prestigious universities in the US is 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. If you want to come up with a stellar digital marketing strategy for your university, you need to dissect what your competitors are doing. You must know how to run a marketing campaign for your university to attract the right student leads

To help you with that, we have rounded up the 12 best marketing campaigns for universities that you can take inspiration from. 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 their website visitors, Saint Louis University has created a unique admissions page where prospective students can answer a few questions like the ones below to explore everything that the university offers.


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

Rather than overwhelming prospecting students with everything your university offers, it is best to present students with information based on their preferences. What makes this higher ed marketing campaign great is that 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 higher ed marketing 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 effectively hijack the trend to increase their brand awareness. Whenever anyone downloaded their background images, they were effectively marketing the university as well.

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, humorous content such as skits and memes is received more favorably by viewers compared to serious videos. That said, when choosing humorous content to fit into your higher education marketing strategy, make sure that 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. Utilizing user-generated content (UGC), universities can get their message across 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 of the blogs get published on Saint Xavier University’s Facebook page by the name of SXU Cougar Diaries. Students write blogs on a variety of topics, all related to their experience at Saint Xavier University. 


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

5. Skyline College: Engaging Video Content

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


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 for promoting 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

All in all, presentation information related to their school in chronological order makes their degree program seem, well, easy. It encourages prospective students to enroll in their programs. University video ads helps attract the most ideal students

6. New York University

Sports connect people. Sports teach students important 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 and that’s something that can be a major turn-off for a lot of 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. Keeping that in mind, 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. 


7. ​​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 is on social media, they knew just how to reach them. As part of their “like no other” campaign, they’ve recently launched a whole lot of 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 for yourself how direct and engaging their ads are.


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 awesome 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 around various parts of the university building virtually. What’s also cool 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 just 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

Sometimes, simply the aesthetics 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 also being super specific about what Appalachian State University has to offer.


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 talked about 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 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 their official Instagram account, executing a perfect student-influenced social media campaign. All of the content was created by the students and served as UGC for the university. User-generated content (UGC) has the power to create a wholesome environment for prospecting students.

12. University of Central Missouri - Talking About Student’s Pain Points 

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


Their higher education social media marketing team researched what students worry about the most. Based on that, the University of Central Missouri came up with a higher education campaign that covered their audience’s pain points. They know that their potential students worry about two things majorly: The 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 has been around for 150 years which helped them build trust.



Rayed Chaudhry

Rayed is passionate about marketing and interested in learning new ways to hack (legally) marketing platforms to help businesses achieve growth using unconventional methods. Prior to starting Orion, Rayed has worked in various marketing positions and spent millions of dollars across different ad platforms.