The era of traditional marketing is over. Digital revolution has officially taken over colleges and universities. Now more than ever, institutions and educators are relying on online and mobile tools to attract prospective students.
For colleges and schools to stand out amongst the vast array of information available online, they need to create a comprehensive digital marketing plan in order to reach potential students in the right place and at the right time.
Here are 5 ways schools can get started with their digital marketing plan
1. Create Great Content
Create an editorial calendar of monthly/ weekly/ daily topics. This will not only give you an opportunity to showcase your school’s unique story and differentiate yourself from other schools but can bring you a steady stream of loyal followers.
Remember however to keep your audience's pains and considerations in mind when creating the content. Also, be sure to include visuals (photos and videos) in your content as much as possible to keep users engaged.
2. Identify Your Audience
A successful digital marketing strategy also depends on understanding your ideal customers.
In the case of most schools, the audience is: parents, pupils and alumni. If you don't know what your customers issues/concerns are, where they can be found, or what motivates their purchasing decisions (in this case their education), you can't effectively sell to them. Interview and surveys of parents from time to time to understand motivations, pains and issues will help.
Based on this you can create Persona Profiles by gathering as much data as you can about your target audience. Once you've got your objectives and your audience identified you can begin to create your strategy.
3. Invest in Social Media
Don't just hop onto the Social Media bandwagon for the sake of it.
Decide on the social media platforms that best suit your abilities and which will best reach your audience. Once you've decided on your platforms, create a social media calendar to ensure you stay on top of the conversations.
Start with the content you're creating for your blog and build from there.
Top school administrators are increasingly taking to social media to communicate with current and prospective students and the broader community, acting as leaders, building strategic relationships, and strengthening their institution’s reputations.
4. Create a Website That's Right for You
Your website is by far your biggest advertising platform. So your website strategy should not be taken lightly.
- Does your website talk to your audience? Have you considered their purchase journey?
- If a redesign is on your agenda do you have a 301 redirect strategy?
- Are you clear about your desired branding, messaging and your school’s unique value proposition?
- A new visitor to your website should immediately get a sense of what your school stands for and has to offer. From responsive design that works across devices, to protecting your current website assets, there is a lot to keep in mind when building a new website.
- Keep the 10 Critical Success Factors for Websites in mind when creating your website strategy.
5. Communicate via email
Choosing a school is a big decision, and many prospective parents want as much information as they can get before making this decision. By sending out weekly or monthly emails that provide information that reminds students about upcoming events and highlight the school’s latest achievements, you can stay on the top of mind of prospective students and parents.
If you are looking for a way to expand your reach, digital marketing is a good candidate for your marketing dollars.
But carefully research and select the right platform for your needs, define your campaign settings precisely, sharply segment your target audience, integrate digital marketing into a broader campaign and test, test, test each component for optimal performance.
Has your school’s marketing kept pace with the digital age?
Let us know what has, and hasn’t, worked for you.