Digital marketing for educational institutions

In a world where there are more options and opportunities than ever, it has been more difficult for educational institutions to increase student enrollment and engagement. To prevent declining enrollment from rising competition and demand for e-learning, schools, universities, colleges and learning centers must rethink how they conduct business in order to stay ahead of market shifts.

To accommodate the changes in the education sector and deliver sustainable growth, marketing and communications departments are being pressured to navigate a multitude of factors and priorities, such as admissions, student & faculty satisfaction, alumni relationships, and fundraising. As a result, it’s important for educational institutions to create an effective strategy that communicates with potential students, parents and industry experts in order to grow their brand awareness and student enrollment – which digital marketing can deliver.

How educational institutions benefit from digital marketing

The education sector has transformed entirely, and this is partly due to the widespread online access that students have to the internet. Students are constantly online, which has made digital marketing one of the most promising strategies to help you reach and influence students and parents with ease.

An effective digital marketing strategy will allow your brand to differentiate your institution from your competition. It’s also an effective way to get your word out about the programs, curriculum, professors, students, awards and culture to your intended audience. If your educational institution is looking to target and acquire new students and parents, then digital marketing is a necessity in your business operations.

Here are a few results that your institution will obtain:

  • Far reaching brand awareness
  • Better results and a reduce in cost versus traditional marketing
  • Personalized communications with your target audience
  • Higher conversion rates from targeting specific groups
  • Able to track and adjust every marketing campaign
  • Build a strong reputation

6 digital marketing strategies for educational institutions

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Studies have shown that 67% of students and parents use search engines as their first source of information about an educational institution. While surveys each year suggest that students and parents assess an educational institution based on its website and online presence.

SEO is an indispensable element of every successful digital marketing strategy. After all, it’s SEO that enhances your brand visibility on search engines by getting your webpages in front of your target audience. By having the content on your website optimized for your searchers’ intent, it will allow you to rank higher on search engines so that more interested people will visit your website and learn how your institution can help them.

The bottom line is that by ranking high in search engines will make students and parents find you instead of your competitors.

2. Content marketing & Video marketing

Content marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies in helping you engage and guide students and parents to choose your institution. Creating relevant and informative content on a consistent basis such as blogs, videos and eBooks or whitepapers will not only establish your institution as a credible source but also deliver increased web traffic to your website if it meets SEO best practices.

You will always win by creating quality content that appeals to your target audience. In return, you will easily get students, faculty and peers to share your content which will expand your brand’s reach, earn quality backlinks and improve your reputation. In addition, sharing industry and student generated content can go a long way in engaging your target audience as well.

The influence of online videos in our everyday life is undeniable. YouTube is the second largest search engine with over 86% of educational institutions having a presence on the platform. Videos are a great way to increase your brand awareness and engage your target audience by creating student and alumni testimonials, educational resources, virtual tours and campus events. In general, a visual experience in the education sector appeals to a wide audience and allows each viewer to process information in a way that has a greater impact than any brochure offered by your institution.

3. Pay-per click (PPC) & Retargeting ads

If you are spending money on traditional ads but not PPC ads, it may be time to allocate budget to this digital strategy. Pay-per-click is one of the most effective forms of advertising that allows you to simply pay a fee each time one of your ads is clicked. A solid PPC strategy should focus on top-of-the-funnel traffic which can bring more hot leads and new students to your institution.

Since your audience may take time before converting, using retargeting ads will enable you to reach out to prospective students and parents who have interacted with your institution on one of the digital channels that you have a presence on. The data that you have collected will allow you to re-engage with them by showing tailored ads that meet their criteria, in order to get them to take a specific action with your institution. Retargeting ads are not only cost effective, but also yield better conversion rates since you are able to create specific engaging ads for each custom segment.

4. Social media

If you are looking to improve student engagement, social media platforms are the best channels to help you to reach this goal. Social media is about collaborating, networking, sharing and generating knowledge and content which are all principles in the context of learning.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are used by almost everyone on a daily basis, and allows your target audience to easily and conveniently communicate with your brand. Communication in the form of short videos, photos, stories, live lectures and events, Q&A sessions, and student generated content can provide a daily reality of being a part of your institution.

5. Email marketing automation

When it comes to nurturing leads, and maintaining and strengthening relationships with current students, parents and alumni – email marketing is the strategy to use. Your target audience is more likely to check their email on a frequent basis and it’s easy to personalize your email campaigns to segment your audience so that you can increase conversions and engagement. Emails about admission news, programs, upcoming events and recent blogs are all relevant content to delight your target audience.

To effectively get the most out of your email marketing, it’s recommended to utilize marketing automation in order to simplify processes with workflows, attract prospective students and keep alumni engaged. From the information you have about your audience in your CRM, marketing automation allows you to segment and engage the right students and personalize communications in real-time in order to help you reach your enrollment goals.

6. Analytics

Technology is strengthening the capabilities of educational institutions to face new market shift. With the help of data and analytics, your institution can make informed decisions to your business operations through the collection and interpretation of data.

No matter whether your institution is a school, university, college or learning center, access to data and analytics allows your institution to better understand and adapt your campaigns to improve performance. While increased enrollment is your ultimate goal, you should also focus on using analytics to monitor and improve your brand reputation, student engagement and retention, and operational efficiency.