21 September, 17
Six Key Digital Marketing Trends—and Tips—for Higher Ed
Digital marketing is constantly changing and adapting to users’ needs. Major platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Snapchat regularly introduce new features and adjust their strategies to better serve users—and get ahead of the competition. You, too, can stay ahead of the competition and reach your target audience by following these digital marketing trends for higher ed.
Today most social media networks rely on algorithms to display content in your feed. They do this to better tailor information for the end user. A social media budget helps ensure ad placement in front of your target audience. According to Gartner’s U.S. & U.K. CMO Spend Survey, 24 percent of chief marketing officers expect to increase their digital advertising budgets in 2017.
A social media budget can also help you cut through the clutter. Every day we’re bombarded with information. A well-placed ad on social media can help you stand out and provide your users with valuable information they need and want.
Tip: Need help justifying the extra budget item? Use the insights gained from your analytics to show how far promoted posts and sponsored ads can go in reaching your target audience.
Take a note from many wildly popular retailers. They actively leverage the excitement of heavy users or “brand ambassadors.” These ambassadors share their experiences, largely positive, on social media effectively reaching new groups that the retailers simply can’t on their own.
Brand ambassadors also have a level of authenticity and relatability that users appreciate. Before making larger purchases, such as college, a car, or a home, people generally go to their friends or family for their experiences. A current student sharing her positive experience with the school can have the same effect. Student brand ambassadors is an extension of this and can help bring life to your brand. Partner with students so they can share their experiences with your brand with their network.
Tip:Are you a little hesitant about giving a student the social media reins? Fear not—most students these days, of all ages, are digitally savvy. Set basic guidelines and communicate with your ambassadors and you’ll see great returns.
Schools have long used messing apps, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and others for online student recruitment. Students have used them, too; some experts point out that people are spending more time on messaging aps than traditional social media.
This year, consider adding the next level of customer service to perspective students with chatbots.
Chatbots are programs that respond to texts or digital chats. They effectively have “conversations” with your prospective students and can quickly answer frequently asked questions, such as “When does the semester start?” and “How many transfer credits will you accept?” Chatbotsare a great way to reach your consumers where they want to be reached—online—at times that are convenient to them. This is especially helpful for international students in different time zones.
Tip: Building chatbots requires some web dev expertise, and without proper planning can offer a lackluster customer service experience. Before you invest in these ‘bots, create a process and beta test it on student focus group.
Top social media platforms have launched video-sharing and live-streaming features, such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live. (More than 500 million people watch Facebook videos every day.) Snapchat has also gotten on board with Spectacles by Snap, which allows users to post 10-second videos. Schools are wise to take advantage of this to create a more engaging experience for the user, and paint a more vibrant picture of the school experience.
Graduation and commencement ceremonies are a great way to share a very personal, exciting event. It also allows users to be a part of the event virtually, by offering comments and “likes” that the live streamer can respond to.
Tip: Don’t limit video sharing and live streaming to traditional events, like graduation. Create a more intimate view of the school and build the brand’s personality by live streaming things like homecoming, spirit week, or other events unique to the school.
Podcasts are popular, to say the least.Listenership has grown 75 percent since 2013, with 21 percent of Americans regularly listening to podcasts. Showcase more aspects of your school by featuring students, faculty and staff on podcasts. It’s a way to make your brand more personal and one-on-one.
Podcasts also allow you to better target audiences and interests. Instead of having a bird’s-eye view of the school, you can highlight specific programs or events that are of high interest to particular segments.
Finally, podcasts are easily trimmed down into soundbites great for sharing on social media.
Tip: Be sure to develop a script or outline for each episode. Get creative! If the delivery isn’t engaging, even the most interested audience will tune out.
This isn’t a new trend; in fact, it’s probably something you do regularly. Still, the importance of review your segments occasionally needs to be stressed. This can help make your user experience more personal, build trust, and ultimately, create conversions. Do your personas still reflect your target student data? Perhaps your school has expanded programs that may be of interest to a different segment. By continually refining segments—as well as incorporating new digital trends—you can build a lasting brand.