The beginning of the new year holds different meanings to the people who are involved in the field of education. For students, this means returning to school for a new semester, and teachers view the start of the new year with optimism for helping each class meet their goals.
As a thought leader in the field of education, you likely view this season as the time to review and revise your institution’s marketing plans. Using this education marketing guide to know what to look forward to in 2024 helps you create a plan that effectively increases new student enrollment and retention rates.
Understanding the Evolving Education Landscape
The past several years have led to some shakeups as people adjusted to the changes that new technology and the pandemic brought to schools. In the upcoming year, you can expect to see the education landscape continue to evolve, and understanding the areas the changes impact the most can help you make accurate marketing predictions.
One of the biggest changes we are seeing in the education industry is the continued rise of online learning. From elementary schools to prestigious universities, more students are taking advantage of online learning platforms than ever before. You can also expect an increase in student interest regarding higher education niche programs, particularly those that partner with local high schools. Prospective students and their families are especially interested in programs that provide fast-track ways to enter STEM programs and trades.
While the value of four-year and advanced degrees still holds true, up to a quarter of prospective students report that they are interested in non-degree credentials. Including this group of people in your institution’s marketing plans helps to bolster enrollment significantly.
Defining Your Target Audience
In an increasingly diverse world, it is important to dive deep into student personas. Today, you can expect to see students from a variety of different backgrounds, including from all over the world. Working with your marketing team to fully identify common aspirations, challenges, and preferred communication channels makes it easier to create targeted campaigns that work.
For example, 31% of international students prioritize educational programs that demonstrate a welcoming attitude towards people transferring from other countries. Making sure to send tailored content to cater to this group can increase international student transfer rates for your school. The same also holds for other demographic groups. Personalized messaging helps students see how an educational program meets their needs.
Building Your Education Brand
Increasing brand awareness is still an essential part of building a successful marketing campaign. Many colleges and universities are already well-known for being schools that focus on specific aspects of learning, such as technology or cultural sensitivity. As part of the planning process for a marketing campaign, it’s important to take a moment to think about the attributes that you want to emphasize about your educational institution.
Once you’ve defined your institution’s brand, you want to spread the message across all of the various platforms. Consistency is still key for building brand awareness, and you’ll want to make sure that your institution’s identity resonates in every online channel. From using creative storytelling to increasing engagement on social media platforms, your marketing team needs to view every outreach strategy as an opportunity to build your educational program’s brand.
Mastering Digital Marketing Strategies
Even the most well-planned marketing campaign is worth nothing if no one ever sees the materials. Similar to past years, search engine optimization still reigns high as a priority for education marketers. The importance of regularly updating websites with compelling content is something that you’ll need to continue to consider as we enter the new year. However, you may need to review the types of content that you share.
Incorporating emerging technologies that include virtual and augmented reality to create immersive campus tours gives your educational institution a way to establish instant rapport and a sense of familiarity with prospective students. Real-time live feeds and online workshops are also ideas to consider using in your marketing campaign that allow current students and staff to connect with people who are exploring their options for applying to your institution’s programs.
Towards the end of last year, AI took center stage for being one of the biggest technological advances to stir up the marketing industry. Using AI to create personalized and automated email marketing campaigns means that your institution can nurture leads and ensure that new information gets to the right people. Your team can even use AI to schedule new leads for meetings with admissions staff and alumni mentors to provide a seamless transition for students from exploring programs to actively enrolling in one.
Remembering Content Is King: Engaging Your Audience
Just as diversity in your student population leads to bigger learning gains for everyone, you’ll find that diverse content is important for creating a more effective marketing campaign. On your educational institution’s website, students should be able to find traditional blog articles with updated content that answers their questions. But, they should also be able to locate other forms of content that stimulate higher engagement.
New generations of students tend to prefer videos that put them in the viewer’s shoes as someone who is walking the campus. Watching as a professor does a demonstration in class helps them to feel like they would as a student in a specific program. Your marketing campaign should also cater to students who are often busy juggling school, work and family responsibilities. Including infographics makes it possible for them to quickly scan the website for the information they need, and supporting written content with visual aids makes a stronger impression on their minds.
Filling website and social media pages with content is important, but you’ll also want to remember that there needs to be a defined strategy in place to make sure it all makes sense. Data-driven content strategies are more effective at aligning with the prospective students’ preferences, and our marketing team knows how to use technology to gather and analyze data that guides our content generation plans.
Using analytics insights to know when to drop new content for the most views is one example of what we can do to ensure that new blog posts and videos achieve the highest outreach. We can also tailor content to meet the preferences of people from a variety of different demographics based on when and how they access your institution’s website and other online materials.
Converting Leads Into Enrollments
Getting prospective students and their families to your institution’s website is only the beginning of things to focus on in the new year. Converting website traffic into enrollments is one of the last hurdles you’ll need to overcome to truly get the most ROI from a marketing campaign.
One way to increase the conversion rate is to make sure that every landing page is set up with clear calls to action that resonate with students. Conversion optimization techniques, such as shortening page loading times and ensuring that information request forms are quick to complete help to stimulate action while a prospective student is inspired to learn more about your educational institution.
If one of your goals is to increase conversion rates, then it helps to ask a professional to review the website to identify friction points that are slowing students down. Often, just a few simple changes are all it takes to dramatically boost enrollment.
For instance, you might add a page or content to the website that offers students virtual consultations or personalized outreach that helps to convert a student who might be unsure of whether or not to apply to the program. Giving multiple options for action can entice prospective students still on the fence to continue learning more about your institution, which could be all they need to make a final decision on enrollment.
Measuring Success and Refining Your Strategies
Once you’ve implemented this year’s changes to the marketing plan, it’s important to continue to monitor the key performance indicators to check their effectiveness. Adjusting your strategies accordingly helps to ensure that not a moment is wasted on attracting new students to the program.
With new tools available for data analytics, it’s easier than ever to optimize how you allocate various parts of your budget toward marketing strategies. You can also use the information that you gain to personalize the outreach efforts even more to create a refined plan that drives results.
By using the strategies that are outlined in this year’s education marketing guide, you can navigate the complex and rapidly changing educational landscape and increase enrollment and retention rates among your school’s students. As you embark upon this new year’s plan, remember that marketing is an ongoing journey. Remember to keep experimenting, analyzing, and refining your approach to attract the most brilliant minds to your institution.