Higher education is a lucrative business with an estimated market worth of around $568.2bn. Universities around the world compete to attract only the best students for their degree programs.
With education institutions marketing their degree programs aggressively, it is becoming quite challenging for universities to stand out and appeal to prospective students. Due to an overwhelming number of choices, students find it confusing to find the right school.
Considering that higher education is a huge investment, students need answers to questions like:
- How much does the degree program cost?
- What career opportunities will the degree program provide?
- Does the school have any notable alumni, where are they now?
If you want to attract the best students to your university, your marketing efforts should be focused to answer such questions. Universities have been using digital marketing since the dawn of the internet. It allows higher education institutions to connect with their target audience instantly.
In today's digital landscape, prospecting students find schools, colleges, and universities on search engines like Google. The way universities appear in those searches has a lot to do with SEO, Facebook Ads and Google Ads for educational institutions. If you want to attract more students and increase your university’s online visibility, this guide on digital marketing for universities is perfect for you.
Keep reading to find out the best university marketing strategies and how you can use them to meet your business goals.
Trends in Higher Education Marketing
Trends come and go all the time, however, some tend to stay for good. In digital marketing, we have seen a lot of trends come and go. We all remember when keyword stuffing used to get blogs raked on the top of Google search results. Sadly, that is not the case anymore. That being said, there are a few higher education marketing trends that are helping higher ed marketers drive amazing results.
Let’s check out some of the best higher education marketing trends in 2022…
1. Utilize short videos into your higher ed marketing strategy
Due to Covid-19, the number of on-campus visit requests has declined drastically. This makes it challenging for universities to improve their brand awareness. However, many universities have found a way around this problem by using short videos to reach prospects.
Universities use short-form videos to:
- Provide answers to student queries
- Talk about their degree programs
- Give virtual campus tours
Content marketing for universities is a worth it investment for institutions. Universities can even take advantage of TikTok to reach prospective students. Using short videos, universities can improve their visibility and brand awareness.
2. Hijack featured snippets
To increase search engine visibility, hijacking Google’s featured snippet is one of the best SEO strategies. Google’s featured snippet pulls the best content from websites and displays them at the top of the results page - even above the first position.
Getting your website to rank in the featured snippet box can help you increase your university’s brand visibility and organic traffic. The more traffic your university website pulls in, the more leads you’ll be able to generate.
3. Leverage lookalike audiences
One of the most popular trends that higher ed marketers have been using in 2022 is utilizing lookalike audience models. Lookalike audiences help universities improve their brand reach and acquire new student leads. Using the data of existing students, lookalike marketing campaigns can help higher ed marketers find new leads with the same interests.
Using lookalike audiences in higher ed marketing allows universities to broaden their reach and attract students that are most likely to engage with your content and enroll in your programs.
4. Chatbots integration
Nowadays, we all want instant answers and quick solutions. This is why conversational marketing in the higher ed industry is catching on rapidly. Speaking of conversational marketing, more and more universities are now incorporating chatbots on their websites. Chatbots are powered by AI and automate live chats in real-time, they are super effective in the higher ed industry and provide instant answers to student queries. According to Uberall, 80% of consumers have positive experiences with chatbots.
Chatbots offer outstanding customer service by automating human feedback and providing crucial information to students instantly.
5. Implement an Omnichannel marketing strategy
Omnichannel marketing is involves marketing across different platforms. By different platforms, we mean social media, email, mobile apps, and blog posts. The objective of omnichannel marketing is to improve customer experience and to deliver focused brand messaging that improves conversion rates.
According to statistics, businesses using more than 3 channels have seen their engagement rates improve by 18.96%.
6. Live streaming
As we talked about earlier, short video content is extremely engaging. But what’s even more engaging is live streaming. In fact, 80% of people prefer watching a live video over a blog post and spend 3X more time watching live videos compared to recorded videos. Students prefer consuming authentic content and opportunities to interact or connect with universities. Live streaming fulfills that experience. This results in more and more universities using live video to engage with prospecting students.
Facebook, YouTube, Instagram all allow content creators to host live videos.
7. Optimize content to rank on other search engines
While Google is the most popular search engine hogging around 92% of all internet traffic, there are other search engines like Bing and Baidu with sizable monthly traffic. Speaking of search engines, DuckDuckGo is one search engine that has been quietly growing over the years. This search engine is marketed to privacy-focused users. With people becoming more privacy-conscious, DuckDuckGo has gotten a lot more popular. In fact, it processed around 29 billion searches in 2022.
So, even if Google is the number one search engine, it is a good strategy to optimize your content to rank on other search engines as well. You never know which search engine may bring you traffic. Invest some time analyzing where your content is most likely to be viewed by your target audience. Keeping that in mind, optimize your content for not just Google, but also for other search engines.
7 Higher Education Digital Marketing Strategies for 2022
Now that we’ve looked at some of the major trends in higher education marketing, let’s check out 7 highly effective digital marketing strategies for higher education that marketers should be applying for 2022.
1. Leverage the power of social media
Social media is the number one channel for higher education online marketing.
Well because students practically live on social media.
Considering that, you’d want to be able to reach and connect with them at all times. There are different social media platforms you can use to engage with students. Some of the most popular social media platforms that universities should be taking advantage of include Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook for higher education marketing. These platforms enable universities to connect with potential students and also allow prospective students to get a feel of what it’s like to be at your university.
You can use social media to post your university events and also share what’s special about your university. Share videos of students and faculty talking about their experiences at your university. This will provide prospective students with all the information they may need to make up their minds.
2. Utilize video marketing to its fullest potential
If we talk about engaging social media content, nothing comes close to video.
Video content offers much more value compared to textual or image-based content. Video content is also highly versatile. For example, it can be consumed with or without sound.
Using video content in long and short formats, you can show off your campus and talk about the programs your university offers. Nowadays, more and more universities are using video content to attract more website visitors and turn them into converting leads. Video is a great medium to educate prospective students and nurture them throughout the student lifecycle.
3. Invest in SEO for long term results
Using SEO for higher education marketing is a cost-effective strategy to get your university seen by the most ideal audience. It is an organic approach to attract the right students to apply and enroll in your university.
Search engine optimization allows higher ed marketers to analyze competitors and to determine the right keywords for which they want their university to rank on the SERPs. SEO requires marketers to create high-quality content that’ll help build your university’s authority. Over time, your website authority will help your content rank high on Google and be seen by the right students for university.
That said, SEO is a long-term organic marketing strategy. It takes time for high-quality content to rank well on search engines. A lot goes into planning an effective higher education SEO strategy. Keyword research, internal linking, backlinking, technical audit, on-page optimization, all come under SEO. Unless you checkmark all the pointers in an SEO checklist, getting ranked will not be easy.
Although SEO may not help you drive results quickly, it can help you build your website authority. Website authority is what’s going to help you rank organically on search engines and consistently bring you the right traffic you seek.
4. Hire a professional higher education digital marketing agency
Nowadays, the majority of prospective students begin and end their search for higher education institutions online. Very few universities are able to grasp the attention of potential students and get them to enroll in their programs. Digital marketing on behalf of universities is challenging. Considering how lucrative the higher education industry is, everyone wants a slice of the pie. Due to immense competition getting your university noticed by the right students is not easy.
If you don’t have the time or resources to run digital advertising and university marketing campaigns and all you care about is generating quality leads to meet your enrollment goals, then you better hire a professional higher education digital marketing agency.
With years of experience in higher ed marketing, we help our clients create enrollment marketing campaigns using SEO, PPC, and on-site conversion techniques to help them recruit the right students they need.
5. Leverage the power of influencer marketing
Getting influencers to endorse and promote your school is a powerful marketing strategy. It is called influencer marketing. Start with an in-house approach. Go through your alumni list and shortlist the ones who have become successful. Use these alumni in your ads to promote a positive image of your university. You can also contact your alumni and ask them to endorse your university.
According to studies, prospective students are influenced significantly by the employment track record of past students. This is why promoting the success of your alumni on your university website or social media can help you attract new students. Higher education marketers can also encourage the best students to become their university’s social media brand ambassadors. This will allow your university to increase its reach on social channels.
6. Promote through email marketing
A lot of higher ed marketers nowadays don’t use email marketing. A lot of them consider it to be obsolete.
Email marketing is still very much useful and a lot of universities still rely on it to this day.
That said, if executed poorly, your emails can go directly to spam. So how can you make sure your emails don’t go unnoticed?
Well, you’ll need to work on creating personalized content. You must make sure to personalized and relevant emails to your student leads. This is the only way to increase your engagement rates.
When carrying out email marketing campaigns, it is essential nowadays to use AI-powered email programs like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or ActiveCampaign. These programs can help marketers figure out the best time to send emails based on previous data and open rates.
7. Increase brand awareness through display advertising
Gone are days of billboards. Now, it's all about digital ads. In fact, digital ads are around 35% more effective than traditional billboard ads.
Digital display ads can help universities effectively increase their reach. Universities can leverage banner ads by placing them on websites with high traffic. Google enables marketers to display their ads on third-party websites using Google Display Network.
Google Ads can serve your university ads on Google’s Display Network, which is a collection of two million+ websites. Using Google Display Network, you can target prospective students based on their search histories and reach around 90% of the total internet users around the globe.
Here’s an example of a banner ad displayed in a blog post:
How much do universities spend on digital marketing?
According to a survey, universities spend around $429 to $623 per student enrolled, per year on marketing. Based on past data, colleges collectively spent around $2 billion in 2018 and $2.2 billion in 2019 on marketing.
How do I do digital marketing for college?
To carry out digital marketing campaigns for colleges, marketers must:
- Optimize college website for search engines
- Target keywords that are long-tail in nature
- Come up with a strategy to earn backlinks
- Focus on creating a sound website user experience
- Run PPC ads
- Create social media presence
- Offer unique selling points
- Create a responsive site for mobile and desktop
What is the target market for universities?
The target market for universities include:
- Undergraduate students
- Graduate students
- Prospective students
- University alumni
How do you attract university students?
To attract new students using digital marketing for university, higher ed marketers must:
- Must invest time to create virtual campus tours.
- Run paid digital marketing (PPC).
- Use social media to attract prospective students.
- Onboard influencers or student ambassadors to promote your university
- Use email marketing to reach and nurture student leads
The goal of your university is to educate the leaders of tomorrow but to do that, you’ll need to implement the most current marketing strategies to attract them. Go through the higher ed marketing strategies and trends that we’ve shared with you in this guide to increase your university’s enrollment numbers.
That being said, digital marketing for universities has gotten tougher. In case you don’t have the time or resources to run your marketing campaigns, you can always hire a higher ed marketing agency to do the job for you.