The pandemic had a significant impact on students worldwide, and higher education institutions are still figuring out how to improve the college experience.

According to a Global Student Survey, six out of ten students (60%) say the pandemic ruined their college experience. Rather than allowing these discouraging statistics to breed discouragement in the field, higher education professionals should view the data as a beacon for revolution and growth.

With physical campus tours no longer being an option, students resort to peer feedback, virtual tours, social media posts, and reviews to choose colleges and universities. 

To reach prospective students, colleges are now spending more money on marketing than ever before. According to stats, a total of $2 billion was spent on advertising by colleges in 2018 and $2.2 billion in 2019. 

As the higher education market was valued at $17.91 billion in 2021, colleges and universities are competing to secure most admissions and this is where higher education marketing comes into action. 

According to the SimpsonScarborough report, the average institution spends between $429 and $623 on marketing for each enrolled student. 

In 2022, higher education marketing trends are all about responding to a continually changing educational landscape, rather than discovering the latest flashy marketing tactics. The latest higher education marketing trends are focused on the identification of prospective students, answering their queries, admission inquiries, conversion rate, and click-through rate (CTR). By focusing on these stages in your marketing strategy, you can improve the enrollment rate and utilize the marketing trends to their fullest.

A well-structured student recruitment strategy can help colleges and universities improve their physical reach, increase enrollment figures, and improve conversion rates.

What is Higher Education Marketing?

Higher education marketing refers to establishing a brand identity to attract and retain prospective students. Higher education marketing aims to promote the institution, its programs, and its unique offerings to potential students, encouraging them to enroll.

It requires marketers to establish a strong and positive brand identity for the institution to differentiate it from others. It requires a comprehensive and strategic approach to address prospective student’s unique needs and preferences while promoting the institution’s strengths and values.

Critical Components of Successful Higher Education Marketing

Institutions must know the ins and outs of a successful higher education marketing strategy, from nurturing relationships with students to hosting events to personalizing support to address declining enrollment.

Given the competitive nature of the field, institutions must consider the following critical components for successful higher Ed marketing.

Branding and Positioning

A good reputation can be the difference between success and failure. A higher education institution positions itself in the market—communicating its unique value proposition, strengths, and distinct offerings—and serves as the initial attraction for potential students.

Putting your students at the heart of your brand marketing strategy and delivering exceptional experiences will determine the success of building a positive brand image.

Here are the critical elements for higher education branding and positioning:

  • Strategic positioning: Define a unique and compelling value proposition that separates the institution. Identify target audiences and tailor positioning strategies to resonate with their needs and aspirations.
  • Comprehensive branding: Develop a cohesive and visually appealing brand identity and consistently apply branding elements across all channels, from online platforms to traditional marketing materials.
  • Authentic storytelling: Share compelling stories showcasing the institution’s impact on students, faculty, and the community. Highlight success stories and unique achievements to reinforce a positive brand image.
  • Consistency: Ensure consistent messaging across various channels to reinforce the institution’s fundamental values and offerings.

Digital Marketing Strategies

Digital marketing in higher education increases enrollment by reaching prospective students through online channels, ensuring broader visibility and engagement.

Digital marketing eliminates the one-size-fits-marketing approach and brings a new approach related to personalization. It allows higher education institutions to reach a broader prospective student base worldwide.

Social media platforms target email campaigns, and search engine optimization (SEO) optimizes visibility. Interactive and visually appealing content on websites and social media platforms captivates audiences, boosting enrollment.

Social Media

Social media platforms provide higher education institutions an excellent opportunity to enhance brand visibility, engage prospective students, and build connections.

It provides a platform to share academic achievements, campus events, and student stories, influencing positive perceptions. Additionally, real-time updates and interactive content contribute to an engaging online presence, attracting and retaining a diverse student audience.

  • Facebook: Utilize targeted ads and engagement campaigns to connect with diverse audiences, share rich content, and promote campus life and academic achievements.
  • YouTube: Showcase campus life, lectures, and student testimonials through video content, enhancing brand visibility and providing an immersive experience.
  • Instagram: Leverage visual storytelling with vibrant images and stories, highlighting campus beauty, events, and student achievements.
  • Pinterest: Curate visually appealing boards showcasing campus culture, academic achievements, and career opportunities, attracting and engaging prospective students with inspiring and informative content.
  • Twitter: Utilize concise messaging and trending hashtags to share real-time updates and academic highlights and engage with a broader audience.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in higher education marketing helps increase online visibility and attract prospective students. Optimizing website content with relevant keywords and improving site structure enhances search engine rankings, ensuring institutions appear higher in search results.

Here are some essential tips to follow for higher education SEO.

  • Identify and incorporate relevant keywords related to higher education, courses, and campus life.
  • Create informative, engaging, and shareable content that resonates with the target audience.
  • Ensure a mobile-friendly website design for a seamless user experience.
  • Develop a strong backlink profile by collaborating with reputable educational websites.
  • Optimize for local SEO by including location-specific keywords, creating business listings, and encouraging positive online reviews.

At its core, SEO has the potential to bring more organic attention to your institution— which means it increases the chances of converting leads into enrolled students.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a powerful digital tool to connect with prospective students, raise brand awareness, and promote marketing efforts. It provides a direct channel to share program updates, admissions information, and alumni success stories. 

For example, a campaign highlighting new scholarship opportunities could feature a subject line like “New Scholarships Await You!” This approach helps build an instant connection and encourages prospective students to take desired actions.

All higher education email marketing campaigns should include the following:

  • A clear and compelling subject line
  • Personalized greeting
  • Concise and engaging content
  • Key benefits and highlights
  • Call-to-action (CTA)
  • Deadline or urgency (if applicable)
  • Relevant visuals or graphics
  • Mobile-friendly design
  • Social proof or testimonials
  • Unsubscribe option

Content Marketing for Higher Education

Content marketing helps you rank in search results so more prospects find your institution. It enables you to build a positive brand image and delivers the content your audience wants.

Sharing consistent and engaging content can help higher education institutions strengthen their brand presence and drive enrollments.

Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.

  • Identify the target market: Know who’s going to read your content. Create a target persona to determine the best fit, create more relevant content, and drive more leads.
  • Start with blogging: Include blogging as one of your key strategies. Blogging also enables you to have fresh content on your site, drive traffic, and create opportunities for your institution to appear in different search results.
  • Test different types of content: Keep your content exciting and include other content methods such as videos, infographics, podcasts, ebooks, checklists, guides, and much more.
  • Leverage compelling storytelling: It is a great way to capture prospective students and immerse them in what it’s like to be at your college or university.
  • Analyze content performance: Keep track of how and where your content performs. Consider metrics like traffic, dwell time, bounce rate, and others.

Utilizing Data and Analytics

Turn information into actionable insights by utilizing data and analytics. With numbers and statistics to back up your decisions, you can enhance the effectiveness of desired outcomes.

Here’s how you can leverage data and analytics for your higher education marketing:

  • Divide your audience for targeted campaigns, tailoring messages to specific student demographics and maximizing relevance and engagement.
  • Forecast trends and behaviors with data, enabling strategic decision-making for effective outreach and resource allocation in marketing efforts.
  • Customize communication to resonate with individuals, leveraging data insights to create tailored content that appeals to diverse student interests and needs.
  • Track and analyze marketing campaign performance, utilizing key metrics to assess effectiveness and refine strategies for optimal impact.

Through the compilation of data, analytics, and automation, institutions gain insights that can lead to well-informed marketing decisions and the ability to improve their marketing efforts in the right direction.

15 Higher Education Marketing Trends to Inspire Your Strategy

If you work in the higher education marketing domain, you must be looking for ways to improvise your current methods. Let us make it clear – digital marketing in 2023 is all about diving deep into the current channels and optimizing them instead of adopting new tools.

You must make the most of new opportunities to enhance your reach and devise compelling digital marketing strategies for higher ed to increase your annual student intake. You have to ensure that the unique values of your school are highlighted through your marketing efforts.

Generation Z – aka Gen Z, are glued to social media. The higher educational institutes must be present on all the right platforms to reach their target audience. 

In today’s blog, we’ll look at 15 actionable higher education marketing trends that can help you devise your marketing strategy to interest prospective students.

1. Use short-form videos to promote your higher ed institute

50% of the campuses witnessed a decline in campus visit requests. As the number of students interested in exploring the campus drops significantly, higher education institutions can use videos to reach prospective students.

Some areas they can make their videos on include:

  • Virtual campus tours
  • Answer the most searched concerns about the institute
  • Offer a tour of the facilities with a student tour guide

Almost every social platform allows including short-form video content. You can connect these with long-form videos to provide more information and add substance to your higher education video ads efforts.

videos to promote your higher ed institute

2. Use YouTube for content for higher ed marketing

YouTube videos provide an opportunity to expand awareness about your institute. It also increases SEO performance and supports other digital marketing campaigns. YouTube has over 2.6 billion monthly active users, making it the perfect channel to reach prospective students.

‍You can upload long-form videos to share insights about your institute on this platform. When the student ambassadors discuss their experience at your university, it will get prospective students interested in your university. Using videos is one of the most influential higher education marketing trends of 2023, making waves of changes in the enrollment figures.

YouTube for content for higher ed marketing
Source: Texas Southern University

3. Produce high-quality leads with PPC advertising for higher education institutes

Search engines like Google offer pay-per-click (PPC) services. Running PPC ads for higher education institutions is a great way to reach out to potential students. By targeting specific keywords and phrases, institutions can ensure that their ad appears in front of potential students who are searching for information on higher education.

Additionally, PPC can be a great way to generate leads for higher education institutions. By retargeting students with ads who are interested in higher education and providing them with a way to contact the institution, PPC can be an effective higher education lead generation strategy.

Instead of relying on organically-driven site visits, PPC narrows the target audience by age and other demographics. It generates quality leads and boosts the conversion rate like no other method.

91.74% of the search traffic drives from Google alone

It's no secret that getting your website seen by the right people is critical to your success, but it can be difficult to know where or how to start your SEO journey.

Think Orion has been helping educators and institutes drive targeted search traffic for over years. We have the experience and expertise to get your website seen by the right audience, and increased website traffic.

BOOK A STRATEGY CALL

PPC advertising is not specific to Google, but other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all using PPC ads to target their audience and generate revenue. 

Facebook advertisements are the ideal place to start when it comes to running an efficient sponsored ad campaign to enhance enrolment numbers across Facebook and Instagram. 96% of marketers believe that in terms of social media advertising, Facebook outperforms all other platforms due to precise targeting, fast ad reach, and inexpensive cost. 

PPC advertising for higher education institutes

Facebook and Instagram are being used by an increasing number of schools, colleges, and institutions to advertise their offers, curriculums, and student successes. According to a 2019 Statista research survey (projection of 5 years), 93% of surveyed educational institutions worldwide use Facebook for marketing purposes. 

Facebook ads focus on demographic targeting (based on language, gender, and age), interest-based, location, and behavior-based targeting. You can use these targetings to narrow your reach to the most relevant audience i.e. prospective students and parents. 

4. Move your PR strategies online for higher ed marketing

Some PR fundamentals will never change. In the case of higher educational institutes, doing PR outreaches for higher education involve establishing ties with editors, professors, and reporters. The faculty is your source of groundbreaking research, which you can use to get captivating storylines and quotes.  

Meanwhile, editors and reporters are your gateways to the target audience. For universities, content marketing can be a great way to share this research and other valuable information with prospective students.

Another PR tactic you can use involves strategically placing the ads on content websites that the students are most likely to visit.

PR strategies online for higher ed marketing

5. Leverage the power of influencer marketing for universities

As digital marketing tactics continue to evolve, so too do the strategies that higher education institutions use to reach their target audiences. One such tactic that has gained popularity in recent years is influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is a form of the social media marketing that relies on endorsements and product mentions from influencers – individuals who have a large following on social media and are considered experts in their field.

Higher education has the potential to be promoted via influencer marketing. For this, you must start your campaign by analyzing your social media channels.

Evaluate the individuals who use the name of your institute and study their social media standing. We recommend seeking the services of a digital agency to help you in this regard. Then, connect with the influencers and discuss the approach they should adopt to advertise your institution. Universities for branding strategy can also leverage your own students to become your ambassadors and talk positively about your higher education institution. 

influencer marketing for universities

6. Use responsive ads for higher-ed digital marketing

Higher education marketing is becoming increasingly competitive. In order to stay ahead of the curve, institutions need to adopt new and innovative marketing strategies. One such strategy is the use of responsive ads.

Responsive ads are designed to adjust their size, shape, and appearance to fit seamlessly into the content of a website or app. This allows them to be highly visible and effective, without disrupting the user experience.

When crafting responsive adverts, you can work on several ad formats, copy, headlines, and visuals.

Unlike static ads, a responsive ad provides an increase in higher click-through rates and impression volume. According to Google, responsive search ads have a 5 – 15% higher CTR than standard search ads.

responsive ads for higher ed digital marketing

7. Adopt personalization for higher ed marketing

Personalized content is a powerful marketing strategy for higher education institutions. By personalizing content, universities can connect with potential students on a more personal level, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

According to the 2021 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors, 91% of admissions leaders were “concerned” or “very concerned” about meeting their enrollment goals for the fall. Nowadays, institutes need a well-articulated strategy to attract prospective students.

Today, students are bogged down by irrelevant information that doesn’t make sense. Digital ads with personalization will show the students what they are looking for. Meaningful personalization involves offering valuable information and supporting students’ journeys through meaningful interactions.

According to data, 68% of marketers believe that personalization based on behavioral data has a high impact on ROI. To help close the gap, schools must stop treating all users the same and begin optimizing campaigns to convert and engage more prospective students.

Although the options are nearly limitless, here are a few website personalization strategies to consider incorporating into your lead nurturing strategy for prospective students moving forward:

  • Personalized Video
  • Applicant Journey Personalization
  • CRM Personalization Tactics
  • Relevance Personalization Tactics

A successful higher ed website design must take into account a wide range of factors. With the right mix of creativity and technical know-how, a website can be optimized for search engine visibility, user experience, and brand recognition.

personalization for higher ed marketing

8. Use Google Analytics for higher education marketing

As a higher education marketer, you know that data is key to understanding your audience and making informed decisions about your marketing strategy. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can help you collect and analyze data about your website traffic.

When used correctly, Google Analytics can give you insights into who your website visitors are, where they come from, what they do on your site, and much more. With this information, you can adjust your marketing strategy to better target your audience and achieve your goals.

Google Analytics doesn’t focus on the technical details, instead, it emphasizes how the site is being used as a whole. 

Its enhanced metrics help forecast the users’ behavior and calculate the churn. It also allows more granular data controls and specifies how you should optimize your campaigns.

It is one of the most prominent digital marketing trends for higher ed in 2023. Marketers can benchmark their websites against their competitors to fine-tune their promotional campaigns.

Google Analytics for higher education

9. Improve your higher ed institution’s search engine visibility

As an institution of higher education, it’s important to make sure that your marketing efforts are reaching the right audiences. One way to do this is by using higher education SEO strategies.

91.74% of the search traffic drives from Google alone

It's no secret that getting your website seen by the right people is critical to your success, but it can be difficult to know where or how to start your SEO journey.

Think Orion has been helping educators drive targeted search traffic for years. We have the experience and expertise to get your website seen by the right students, increasing traffic and leads while decreasing costs.

BOOK A STRATEGY CALL

SEO is the process of optimizing your website for Google search to earn higher web traffic levels and improve your online visibility. Optimizing your site for search engines can increase your chances of appearing in the top search results for your target keywords, which will ultimately lead to more website visitors.

Unless search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are used, well-designed content will go unnoticed and fail to achieve its goals. Assume SEO as your online publicist who will get you the attention of potential investors and prospective students.

Speaking of which, a stellar content marketing strategy to aid your SEO efforts would include highly relevant blog posts, infographics, videos, social media posts, and interactive virtual tours.

We’ve been helping numerous clients with our higher education SEO services for universities and colleges. With our help, our clients have seen their enrollment rates skyrocket. 

Anyway, the three main types of SEO you must be aware of are:

  • On-page SEO is content enriched with strategic keywords, meta descriptions, title tags, internal links, and optimized headings, and you can follow SEO tips for universities to get better results.
  • Link-building involves integrating high-quality internal links into your content.
  • Technical SEO ensures that your official institute website doesn’t have technical errors or irrelevant content. Factors like broken XML sitemaps and missing links can really take a toll on your website.

Using SEO insights and keyword strategies will help you win featured snippets and bring traffic back to your website. That being said, SEO is not as straightforward as PPC. It takes a lot of time and effort to drive meaningful results from SEO. 

higher ed institution’s search engine visibility

10. Emphasizing career outcomes through higher ed marketing

Students and parents need assurance about the tangible value of a degree. Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey discovered that 58% of students opt for college to get a good job later.

Institutes like Boston College illustrate the career outcomes of their institute pretty well, enticing prospective students. 

When your website’s academic and career outcomes are vivid, it will engage the prospects and give them crude evidence.

There are a few ways to highlight career outcomes in your marketing. One is to feature alumni stories on your website or in other marketing materials. These stories can show students what kinds of jobs alumni have been able to get after graduation. Another way to highlight career outcomes is to focus on specific programs that have a good track record of preparing students for careers. For example, if you have a nursing program that has a high job placement rate, make sure to mention this in your marketing.

career outcomes through higher ed marketing

11. Leverage lookalike audience groups

If you want to get the most out of your higher education marketing, consider using a lookalike audience. Lookalike audiences are groups of people who share similar characteristics with your current students or customers. This can be anything from age and location to interests and behaviors.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using lookalike audiences for your marketing. First, make sure that the group you are targeting is large enough to be significant, but not so large that it’s not realistic to reach them all. Second, consider using more than one lookalike audience to target different groups of people. And finally, don’t forget to test and measure your results so you can adjust your strategy as needed.

If you use lookalike audiences in your higher education marketing, you can be sure that you are reaching the right people with your message. This can help you get more students interested in your school, and ultimately, increase your enrollment.

Facebook Ads lets you use lookalike audiences to target new prospects who have the same interests as your existing students. Marketing agencies having experience running Facebook advertising for higher education marketing can help universities, schools, and colleges significantly increase their student intake. It is one of the most profitable digital marketing strategies that bring terrific outcomes for universities.

lookalike audience groups

12. Use Sales Funnel in your marketing strategies 

Sales funnels depend on five main sales stages: awareness, consideration, decision, adoption, and advocacy. 

Alt-text: use-sales-funnel-in-your-marketing-strategies

You can use the sales admission enrollment funnel in your marketing strategy to represent your higher education programs effectively. 

For instance, the awareness factor can be incorporated into the marketing strategy by using social media to make your presence known to local and international students. Similarly, comparing with other higher education institutions will cater to the components of consideration and decision of the sales funnel. 

The final components, including adoption and advocacy, can also be incorporated into the marketing strategy by providing the number of enrollments so far and highlighting how you are better than your competitors. 

Funnel in your marketing strategies 

13. Conversational marketing 

Conversational marketing has evolved as a leading inbound marketing method for businesses worldwide.

By using integrated chat boxes and instant messaging, marketing and sales teams worldwide are improving engagements with prospects while saving time and money.

Conversational marketing 

Alt-text: conversational-marketing

It is essential for higher education institutions to be ahead of the curve and include industry-standard marketing methods such as conversational marketing that today’s students have grown to anticipate from colleges and universities. 

As the higher education industry continues to change toward a digital-first strategy, institutions require the proper technology solution to swiftly and directly interact with students at scale.

14. Harness the power of the TikTok platform

Higher education institutions are using social media platforms to interact with Generation Z by raising awareness, connecting, and engaging with Gen Z audiences in a fun and approachable way. 

43% of TikTok users are between 18 to 24, making them an ideal demographic for higher education.

You can use TikTok to plan campus tours, share student-generated content, answer students’ questions in the live session, and plan fun challenges on the university campus. Having a strong social media strategy for higher education can also help you reach a wider audience and showcase the student experience through various social media platforms.

TikTok-account-of-university-of-south-wales

15. Collaborate with the Student Ambassador

Prospective students are more inclined to trust what a person says as compared to their institute’s motto. 

According to Nielsen Advertising Survey, 92% of customers say they entirely or partially believe word-of-mouth recommendations about products and services from family, coworkers, and friends, making these recommendations the most trusted source. Considering these stats, you have a failsafe recipe for increasing enrollment figures with student ambassadors.

Essentially, your institute’s student ambassadors act as student liaisons between your school and potential students, demonstrating what your institute is like from the inside.

student-ambassador-blogger

Prospective students will be considerably more open to realistic marketing campaigns which feature actual students, natural perspectives, and authentic experiences. You can utilize the ambassador’s social media presence to tell the student why they need to get enrolled in your institute.

How to Capitalize Higher Education Marketing Trends

Combining digital diligence and social media frameworks opens a slew of prospects for expanding the student base of higher education institutes. A well-chosen set of digital marketing tools and strategies directs the students’ attention toward a particular goal and compels them to enroll.

This is where we can help you. Think Orion adopts a professional approach to study the requirements of your institute and devise a well-articulated digital marketing strategy.

We don’t aim to get our higher ed clients the highest number of eyeballs. Instead, we aim to grab meaningful attention from your educational institute.

Our experts will help you discover valuable scaling opportunities and become a leader in the higher ed landscape. 

We have 20 years of experience in digital marketing and served more than 130 clients worldwide. Our experience and insights will enable you to sophisticate your paid marketing channels, search engine optimization, and improve direct website traffic. 

Feel free to connect with us and discuss your marketing objectives. If our discussion hits the right chord, we may be signing up for a long-term relationship!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is it important for higher education institutions to stay updated with marketing trends?

Staying updated with marketing trends is crucial for higher education institutions because it helps them remain competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. By adopting effective marketing strategies, institutions can attract and engage prospective students, enhance enrollment rates, and strengthen their position in the market.

How can higher education institutions incorporate personalization in their marketing efforts?

Higher education institutions can incorporate personalization in their marketing efforts by:

  1. Collecting data
  2. Segmenting audiences
  3. Customizing communication
  4. Providing tailored content

Are there any specific challenges to consider when implementing higher education marketing trends?

Yes, implementing higher education marketing trends can come with challenges, such as:

  1. Limited resources
  2. Regulatory compliance
  3. Technology integration
  4. Keeping up with trends

Conclusion

We hope you liked our short blog on higher education marketing trends. We hope some of the trends we’ve shared with you will help you shape your own higher-ed marketing strategies.

The use of marketing in higher education is constantly evolving. As the needs of students and the industry change, so too must the strategies and tactics used by colleges and universities to improve enrollment and conversion growth.

The past few years have seen a number of notable changes in higher education marketing. Social media has become an increasingly important tool, as has content marketing. Additionally, colleges and universities are starting to focus more on data-driven marketing and personalization.

Looking ahead, it is clear that higher education marketing will continue to evolve. Institutions will need to be nimble and adapt their strategies as the landscape changes. By staying ahead of the curve, they can ensure that they are able to reach and engage their target audiences.

What next?

You can check out the best digital marketing campaigns for universities to learn how big players in the education niche make it happen.

After the pandemic, education technology gets important, and universities created their digital assets. Think Orion provides ed-tech marketing services to education technology providers.