The education industry is competitive, which means successful schools are continually refining their education offerings to give their students the best learning experience and enhancing their marketing efforts to attract new students and top-tier teaching staff.
As an education marketer or organization, you may be familiar with the challenges of creating an effective digital marketing strategy for your school. You know your school is offering valuable education to students, but how do you convince prospective students and staff to choose your organization over others? We reached out to other education and marketing professionals to find out what marketing strategies have worked for them. Here are a handful of strategies to consider for your school's marketing efforts.
Building an Online Brand
As prospective students and teachers are relying more on online resources when considering education options, it’s important to have a robust online brand. Your online content and interactions will dictate how an online visitor feels about your institution. Which means your website, social media, and digital communications should offer visitors the same immersive, exciting experience as an in-person tour and the same personal connection as an in-person conversation.
“Educational organizations should have an approachable personality online,” said Natalie Bidnick Andreas, a Digital Strategy Consultant, “which could include a student-focused blog and an Instagram presence highlighting activities and opportunities across campus. Student and alumni achievements could also be featured in this space.”
Your immersive, informative content for enrollment or staff recruitment helps establish your online brand and attract visitors to your website, social channels, and other digital platforms. All the content you create should also play a large part in your marketing puzzle and contribute to your digital strategy. Natalie suggests using your content to contribute “to a targeted drip campaign which nurtures potential applicants, sending deadline reminders and interesting facts about the institution.”
If you’ve ever spoken with a digital marketer, you know that search engine optimization is a big deal. Good SEO strategy can have your website gaining significantly more attention online. Websites that aren’t optimizing for search engines and their users are losing valuable screen time when users can’t find the answer they’re looking for or are frustrated with the functionality of your website. There are a number of website optimization tactics you can use to build up your SEO campaign, from keyword research to refining buyer personas to improving user experience.
Having a strong website is more important than ever before in our increasingly digital world. “Now that everyone is home, it is especially important to be able to capture potential students from the comfort of their own laptops,” said Vildana Kurtovic, Head of Marketing and Communications at Webster Vienna Private University. “One of our most effective marketing strategies was the increased focus on the build out of landing pages and Google Ads, as well as paid social media.”
Amara Ukaigwe, CEO of Book Learn Pass, suggests utilizing a unique search engine. “Educational organizations can use YouTube to boost student enrollment. YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine and creating video content about your organization, the programs you offer and sample course material, is a great way of boosting your organization's visibility and increasing the number of students enrolling each year."
By ensuring that your website is using good SEO practices across all web pages, content, and relevant social platforms, you can establish a bigger digital footprint, see higher search engine ranking results (you'll show up higher in a Google search), and increase your website visitors.
When we talk to schools or organizations about their online marketing goals, many are looking for two things: to increase enrollment and to attract great staff. This leaves an important section of your audience out — your alumni.
While alumni support is usually not the focus of the marketing strategies your organization is creating, alumni can contribute to your success with enrollment and brand awareness. “Making your alumni successful is one of the best things that can happen to your institute,” said Simonas Steponaitis, Marketing Manager at Hosting Wiki.
The success of your alumni increases the credibility and recognition of your institution. Keeping your alumni in the loop (and in your contact lists) creates an opportunity to offer valuable content, events, and partnerships with your alumni long after they’ve left your school. Consider content that could be created for alumni across the length of their careers and keep an ear out for the chance to bring old students back into your digital bubble.
Simonas suggests awards for impressive alumni achievements as an engagement option. “If one of your alumni is the president of a major financial institution, you can honor them with an Alumni Professional Achievement Award. Giving them this recognition inspires future students who aspire to succeed in the financial industry.” This approach offers two benefits: inspiration and content for current or future students along with a potential marketing partnership opportunity with your alumnus to expand your reach into their professional circles.
As with most aspects of marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to promote your education organization. To create a targeted, effective marketing strategy for your school, you need to create strategic goals, campaigns, and content that are based on your unique situation and needs. Learning from other institutions and education marketers can provide helpful ideas to consider for your own digital marketing strategy, but what works for one organization might not work in the same way for yours. Like students learning the scientific method in school, trial and error are part of the process.
In order to make strategic decisions about your school's marketing, you'll need to know where you're at now and what goals you're reaching for. Taking a look at your own website and other digital platforms can give you an idea of what's working well and where you can improve. To see how your site optimization is faring, click below for a free SEO report!