Universities and colleges spend billions of dollars on their marketing & advertising campaigns to attract students. Over the last 3 years, enrollment has fallen for higher education institutions attributed to several factors, alerting marketers to be more vigilant with their strategies.
A decline in the number of Americans who consider higher education to be important from 70% in 2013 to 51% in 2019 (Gallup Survey) is also concerning universities & colleges regarding their ROI, promotional budgets, and declining student numbers.
Mistakes in the higher education marketing industry can be severely costly considering the radical changes from changing public sentiment towards the sector, the COVID19 pandemic, and growing competition from online education providers.
Importance Of Following Best Practices For Higher Education Marketing
The core purpose of a higher education marketing strategy is to enhance enrollment numbers, brand reach, and prestige. Productive marketing campaigns deliver a considerable competitive edge and brand recognition when attracting new students to the school.
Successful tactics and best practices in higher education marketing essentially allow teams to target qualified audiences, lower costs, maintain a competitive edge, and create a resolute brand identity.
Campaigns enabled by best practices offer marketers the opportunity to create better content, in addition to identifying the ideal audiences to market the content to. With essential best practices in place, marketing teams can approach larger audiences over multiple platforms to distribute valuable content.
Four Benefits of Following High Education Marketing Best Practices
Following marketing best practices for higher education campaigns can be highly beneficial for many reasons. The first of these is securing a global audience and reaching out to a worldwide digital student base. Keeping campaign metrics in check also aids in lowering costs, enabling marketers to extract the maximum value from their budgets.
Education providers remain competitive and get the opportunity to develop a strong brand identity when following essential marketing best practices for higher ed campaigns. In addition, enacting best practices across the marketing pipeline enables teams to better target audiences who can later be converted into leads.
9 Education Content Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
1. Failing to create a strong brand identity
A 2006 academic research concluded that conventional branding is no longer adequate for universities to develop a lasting brand presence. The research went on to identify that there have been considerable issues for higher education brand management & reputation management for a while.
Developing a strong brand identity is essential in a digital world when students are looking for self-paced and virtual learning opportunities. The rising competition itself demands that universities & colleges enrich their brand identities to stand out in a clustered industry. A recent Google research identified that digital users create a perception within 17 milliseconds of looking at a website.
One of the most prolific examples of excellent branding comes from Harvard University which has secured a top 5 global ranking over the last five years, it was 1st in 2021. From renowned faculty & Nobel prize-winning patrons to a vast selection of courses, Harvard University attracts the best talent through its solidified global brand identity.
2. Not having a clear and concise message
A clear copy with valuable content is an essential best practice for marketing and branding teams. As a top higher education marketing mistake, enrollment teams should consider developing interesting micro-content to assist with their content marketing strategies.
Clear & concise brand messages are more effective at creating an immediate desire among students while building their curiosity. Audiences can easily comprehend the higher education brand, and what it offers for their futures. In a highly digitized world, delivering micro-content like Instagram videos, short blogs, and publishing social feeds are highly pursued practices among education providers.
While researching I especially loved the Motto of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which simply says ‘Mind and Hand’. For those of us who don’t know, MIT focuses its learning on real-time issues, finding solutions to real-life problems. Their education is directed to apply theory instead of testing students in exams. In addition, you will notice on the MIT website, newsfeeds, blogs, and social accounts the emphasis on clear and concise content.
3. Not targeting the right audience
Identifying your ideal customer personas is one of the earliest processes to complete before developing a higher education marketing plan. Student personas are fictional representations of all the different audiences who are looking for higher education and training.
Targeting the right audiences requires real-time insights about existing students and prospects who interact with the university brand. Creating personas allows enrollment marketers to have a clear understanding of what target audiences like, the content they consume, their buying behaviors, the stage of the student journey, and important demographics.
Targeting the right audience will allow enrollment teams to deliver content to more relevant audiences, securing highly qualified leads in the process. Targeting the wrong audiences will lead to time losses, budgetary losses, and process inefficiencies.
4. Not using enough channels to reach your target audience
In addition to targeting the right audience, marketers must also ensure they are utilizing all the available platforms that audiences interact on. With the smartphone featuring prominently for browsing, email, consumer research, guidance, and many other life functions, it is ideal to seek multiple platforms to attract students through various channels.
Not all audiences will however be online, for example, parents who are looking to send their children to university. It is also a great practice to use conventional marketing channels to attract these audiences through mail, brochures, and advertising.
5. Producing low-quality content
A very important mistake to avoid when marketing for higher education, is developing low-quality content that offers no value. The real purpose and direction of content are generally extracted from researching student personas.
Your content should not be branded collateral pointing out the benefits of joining the university, but rather how it helps the students in their future and earning potential. Low-quality content will not only reduce traffic to the website and social profiles but result in a negative brand image.
As a best practice, enrollment marketers should derive their content strategy from the audience. Understanding the aspirations of young students, university marketers can develop more engaging content that immediately builds trust and delivers value to target audiences.
6. Ignoring SEO best practices
Avoiding this grave mistake can build or ruin brands no matter which industry they are in. SEO best practices come directly from search engines including Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. These guidelines are especially put in place to encourage new content and valuable content, and to deliver more relevant content to ideal audiences.
Professional SEOs identify four important pillars namely security, site speed, crawlability, and broken links as the foundations of good search engine optimization. Enrollment teams must ensure that their SEO checklist is up to date, aided by regular audits to ensure all prerequisites are met.
With constant updates to search engine algorithms, it is important for marketing teams to continually focus on their SEO strategies.
7. Not updating your old content
In conjunction with good SEO, higher education marketers should routinely update their old content, refreshing it with new ideas and information. Content loses value over time, claims BuzzSumo, while search engines lower content rankings based on accuracy and relevance for users.
Updated content has the exclusive benefit of keeping your audiences engaged, and allows them to get valuable information from your brand consistently. Students will consistently engage with the brand, building trust as they receive updated content.
8. Not measuring the ROI of your marketing campaigns
Keeping track of ROI is a priority, especially in a highly competitive, but low-engagement sector like education. Marketers must extract maximum value from every invested dollar to ensure compliance with budgets.
There are several reasons for enrollment marketers to keep measuring the various ROI of their marketing initiatives:
- Provides a quantitative performance overview of marketing campaigns
- Enables data drive decision making
- Provides more accurate marketing budgets
- Simplifies all enrollment marketing activities
- Provides targets to the entire team
- Delivers more accurate forecasts
9. Not hiring the right higher education marketing agency
Higher education marketing remains a professionally managed industry especially because of the complexities of managing a university brand and extreme competition.
Hiring a higher education marketing agency is a viable solution for enrollment teams who feel overwhelmed by the complex technologies and processes. A professional Enrollment marketing agency offers the infrastructure and skills to identify target audiences, create engaging content, manage marketing budgets, and deliver customer-focused branding initiatives.
Higher ed marketing professionals are acquainted with audiences, therefore they can reach out to these students in their tone and language. In addition, it’s always beneficial to have experts managing the KPIs and website journey to grow conversions.
Avoiding common higher education marketing mistakes can be advantageous for both marketing teams and universities looking to increase conversions by following different higher education marketing trends. As we overview the nine essential mistakes to avoid for university marketing, we can better understand how simple benchmarks can significantly affect costs, student enrollments, brand identity, and competitiveness for education providers. We not only focus on universities but also focus on edtech marketing services where we help ed tech to avoid mistakes and optimize their visibility on the internet.
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