Digital Strategies for Any Higher Education Institution During a Pandemic

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Digital Strategies for Any Higher Education Institution During a Pandemic

While there are countless industries that have struggled since the beginning of the pandemic, one industry that’s facing major challenges and seismic changes is higher education. These institutions have been forced to completely rethink how they’re marketing to potential and current students. Whether it’s navigating new COVID restrictions, rolling out virtual learning, dealing with students opting out of college all together and decreased marketing budgets, they are struggling to connect with their end users. 

Here at G/L, we work with higher education clients who are faced with all of these challenges.  Based on our experience, we’ve gathered some strategies that we believe should be incorporated into any higher education marketing strategy. And guess what? They’re all techniques within the digital space…and they don’t cost a fortune.

First and foremost, any marketing strategy, especially that within a higher education space, needs to be reaching the right audiences (Gen Z and millennials mostly) where they’re already at — on their phones and online. And the best part is that digital marketing, especially social media marketing, is one of the most budget-friendly options out there. But before you start worrying about your advertising budget, this first recommendation will only cost your higher education institution time and effort. 

Audit your digital experience 

Take time out to evaluate every aspect of your digital presence. Start with auditing your online programs, your class registration process and your payment tools. Make sure that these processes and experiences are simple and easy to use for all involved. Next, make sure that your website is easy to navigate via mobile devices. According to Statcounter Global Stats,  54.25 percent of people worldwide are using their mobile devices to access the internet. Without a mobile optimization, your website is only accessible to less than half of the population. 

Lastly, incorporate customized experiences into your strategy. Not only is this a trend in the digital space, but it’s expected from higher education institutions by prospective students. Whether that’s creating custom landing pages for your different student personas (ie. international, first-years, etc.), utilizing a personalized student portal or employing personalized digital ad and/or email campaigns, these digital tools will build trust between your brand and your audience.

Don’t skimp on your social media

Since the onset of COVID-19, social media usage worldwide is up by 44 percent, and 40 percent of consumers are spending longer on social media sites due to a lack of in-person connection. Not only are your prospective students on social media, but it’s also one of the most budget-friendly marketing tools to use. However, with varying platforms and strategies, it’s hard to know what tactics a higher education institution should take. Here’s what we would suggest:

Utilize chat bots

This is another great way to bring that personalized touch to your brand without a lot of labor. The pandemic has restricted in-person appointments, however you can still have those personalized conversations answer questions and concerns by using chatbots. Using this streamlined method can also help your prospective students through the enrollment and application process. Try chatbots with LinkedIn Conversation ads and FB Messaging ads. Check out how we did this for our client, Lindenwood University here.

Utilize TikTok + Instagram Reels

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has rapidly grown to be the seventh-largest social media platform. As of 2020, 62 percent of users are between the ages of 10-29 and nine out of ten of these users open the app multiple times a day. On Instagram, there’s a reported 1 billion monthly active users as of 2020, 70 percent of whom are under the age of 35. Overall, 29 percent of teens say TikTok is their preferred social platform, and for Instagram it’s 25 percent. All of these statistics say that it’s a no brainer for a higher education institution to have some sort of organic strategy for short-term video across both platforms. At the very least, it would help increase brand awareness, brand recall and new student acquisition. 

Utilize Influencers

Morning Consult reports that “72 percent of Gen Z and Millennials follow influencers, and teenagers are more likely to follow many.” Taking advantage of the reach that well-known alumni, professors, and distinguished students is a great way to reach your audience the way they want to be reached – via those who they seek out daily for information and opinions. 

Increase your video content output

Video is a crucial part in any higher education marketing strategy for the simple fact that your students and prospects can’t visit and experience your campus for themselves. So it’s up to the school to create an immersive experience representing the atmosphere of their campus and curriculum to those students at home in front of their computers/mobile devices. It’s imperative for marketers to make those experiences come to life through video in order to drive prospective students to enroll. Some video content ideas could be:

  1. Campus tour videos (check out our work for Ursuline Academy)
  2. Speakers
  3. Day-in-the-life videos
  4. Meet the professors
  5. Department spotlights

Obviously, every school needs their own strategic, brand-driven marketing solutions that are tailored to their specific goals and brand, which is something we can help with. Let’s chat and see how Geile/Leon Marketing Communications can help your higher education institution build a marketing plan that will get you the most return on investment. 

Full-Funnel Marketing: What CMOs want from their Agency Partners

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Full-Funnel Marketing: What CMOs want from their Agency Partners

Today, marketers and CMO’s are looking at the digital marketing landscape and heavily investing more and more ad dollars to reach audiences. Expectations are high for getting the results, data, metrics, marketing analytics, traffic, engagement, conversions and ROI, and marketing managers and CMO’s are being held accountable. And we believe as their partner, we should be held to the same standards.

According to a 2017 CMO survey, big organizational capability gaps identified by marketing leaders are highest in customer development and engagement and marketing analytics.

Today’s marketers want a fully integrated approach that takes customers through the buying journey from awareness, to consideration, to engagement, to purchase, to loyalty. That’s what Full-Funnel Marketing is all about.

The Full-Funnel Approach

Full-Funnel Marketing is a holistic approach that not only reaches an audience at the top of the funnel, but continues to follow the customer all the way down the funnel to purchase, engaging and nurturing customers each step of the way. Using the data available, we are able to tailor messages delivered throughout the entire purchase decision.

 

 

At the top of the funnel, our goal is to generate favorable brand awareness and help customers understand your brand’s unique position in the market. Through advertising both in digital and traditional landscapes, as well as social media and public relations, we communicate what makes a product or service unique and why your customers should care.

In the lower end of the funnel, it’s all about educating, influencing and engaging customers with your brand. We nurture customers along the way, by giving them the information and resources they need to make an informed purchase decision, while providing marketers/clients a highly targeted prospect list that are ready to convert and make the purchase of your brand.

Finally, it’s up to us to convert these customers into loyal customers and brand ambassadors through retention, loyalty programs and follow-up communications. These are the customers who will write favorable reviews and become advocates for the brand.

Why is it important?

Consumers are heavily influenced in their purchase decision by online reviews, recommendations, social content, etc. They have access to more information about a product or service at their fingertips during each phase of the purchase decision.

It’s critical that marketers use the Full-Funnel Marketing approach and reach customers through multiple platforms both early on in the buying process, and at each stage thereafter. Investing in brand awareness marketing in the upper funnel will keep your brand in the minds of customers even when they aren’t actively considering a purchase.

In a digital age that sees potential customers researching products and brands long before making first contact, it’s no longer enough for marketers to simply focus on consumer awareness of brands and products available to them. Effective marketing in today’s world follows the right customer with the right messaging from awareness to consideration all the way down to purchase decision and thereafter. That’s the Full-Funnel Marketing approach.

Check out the video below and download a free copy of the Full Funnel Marketing Guide.

Digital Marketing Strategy Approach

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Digital Marketing Strategy Approach

Hi everyone. I’m Robert Mews, Digital Marketing Strategist here at Geile/Leon. I recently moved from Minneapolis where there are two seasons: winter and construction season. I’m excited to be here and to help clients create stellar business results through the use of digital media.

There are a lot of exciting things to try with digital marketing, but remember to keep it simple and not just gravitate towards shiny things. Marketing rules still apply to digital marketing, ask any digital marketing agency. Remember the purchase funnel (see diagram)? Yes, it still applies to digital marketing, believes it or not. You have customers who haven’t heard of you, and you have customers who have heard of you, but still need a little more push.

digital marketing funnel

There is a plethora of digital tactics that move people through the funnel from the kind that many seo nz experts use to target specific niches to more general options, but I still see people who put all their eggs in one basket-thinking it’s going to be a game switcher. I see people invest all their digital dollars in Facebook fan pages. It can be really hard to see results when every business has one, and the difference-maker is how you engage an audience with quality content. Ninety percent of businesses will fail at Facebook.

On the other hand, I see a ton of businesses invest all of their digital dollars in paid search. Yet, paid search only accounts for 10% of all clicks registered on search queries. And when you think of the purchase funnel, paid search is a tactic that helps move people from consideration to engaging. Remember the behavior of a search query-the consumer is already likely aware (hence the need to search for something). That’s not to say paid search won’t help build awareness. But, it works best when you have the mindset that people are already somewhat aware.

The best approach with digital marketing is to understand the purchase funnel and how to spread your digital dollars effectively to move people across the funnel. Putting all the dollars in one area will result in some imminent results, but you’ll quickly realize that it’s short term.

I welcome your comments.

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