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. 

Trending from G/L: Debating Like A True Marketer

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: Debating Like A True Marketer

These days it seems like there is a debate about something new EVERY DAY.

Some of the topics can be a little, well, trivial in the grand scheme of things, but nonetheless are discussed in fervor on social media.

Are women’s pockets inferior to men’s? Yes, yes they are.
Is St. Louis the microbrew capital of America? Well, no…but we are near the top!
Are hit songs starting to sound a little similar? Yeahhhh.

These kinds of topics can generate some pretty strong opinions that inevitably circulate through our culture. But typically, there’s a decided shortage of facts to backup our claims. That is, of course, what makes these debates more of a matter of opinion. But now, The Pudding is here to shift the conversation from online shouting to in-depth sleuthing.

The site The Pudding has taken these entertaining cultural debates and put an actual answer to them. They conduct their own research and collect original data. Then they showcase their findings in a creative and super digestible way.

They use the “emerging form of journalism” called visual essays to tell their findings. Every essay on the site has interactive graphics to highlight the research and data in a way that is accessible to everybody.

Browsing through, you’ll see that the available essay topics are relevant and intriguing too.

The Pudding has tapped into something our culture didn’t even know we needed. Someone to help us FINALLY settle those debates you and your friends have over drinks on a Friday night.

How’s this relate to advertising? What The Pudding does and what those of us in the marketing world do are in essence one in the same: effectively communicate the truth about a particular topic. Getting to the bottom of what truly makes a brand or product unique and telling that truth in an engaging way is the key to good marketing and advertising. Imagine the latest debate is whether or not to purchase your brand or product. Is a shouting match of “buy” vs. “don’t buy” on social media going to be effective? Probably not. But how about a well-researched campaign that connects the essential truths about your brand to the people who will most likely value those truths? Now you’re talking. That’s what Making It Mean Something is all about, and it’s what we do every day here at G/L.

Great creative work is backed and inspired by great research. When you’re ready to discover the essential truths of your brand and make those truths mean something to your audiences, give us a call.

Industry Spotlight: Equine Web Design

The Blog

Randy Micheletti
VP, Director of Brand Strategy

Industry Spotlight: Equine Web Design

With approximately 9.2 million horses in the U.S. coinciding with approximately 2 million horse owners, the equine care market size has grown to a substantial $900+ million dollar business. That’s nothing to shake a stick at.

The good news is there are many opportunities to communicate with consumers about your equine products; the hurdle though, is that the category is extremely crowded. As a brand, it’s more important than ever to stand out. One way to do that is through your website. It’s vital that equine brands keep up with technology to converse with their consumers…but how can your site stand out from others? Here are a few tips to follow that will ensure your site stands out:

Consistency

I’m sure your brand has created a corporate identity. It’s crucial that you use that guide to ensure your brand and message are communicated consistently online and offline. Continuity within your site is also important – actually, it’s a major factor in conversion. When a consumer moves throughout your site each page must deliver a consistent design and message.

Aesthetically pleasing

Part of being aesthetically pleasing is keeping the overall design as clean and simple as possible. White space is a big part of that. It will allow your visitors to focus on what’s important and help get your key messages across.

Colors and images

This is extremely important, especially with horse owners. The use of warm and inviting colors resonates well with horse owners and it can complement the tone of the copy. The use of imagery is vital in this category. Horse owners love to see photography of horses. Showing a variety of different horses is effective as it broadens your opportunity to reach many horse owners. One thing to keep in mind – as you select an image, be sure it’s relevant and adds value to the message you’re communicating.

Relevant content

Equine sites have to be populated with relevant, keyword-rich content. You might ask, how do I determine if my content is relevant? Well according to Angie Schottmuller of Interactive Artisan, using the “Triangle of Relevance” can help. The triangle strategy incorporates three angles – business interest, user interest and time significance to maximize relevance and content, creating user action.

These are just a few helpers to get you started. One last thing to think about equine web design: always consider who you’re talking to and talk to them in an authentic voice. Horse owners appreciate honesty and a straight forward messaging that helps them understand what is best for their horse(s). Keeping this in mind will keep your brand top of mind with consumers and help solidify the conversion.

Download our Digital Marketing Audit to learn more about successful internet marketing.

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We have experience with equine; we know the brands, consumers and the products. Let’s talk about what your equine brand is doing to grow through digital marketing and your equine web design. Fill out this form with your information and we will reach out to you!

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Trending from G/L: Time Travel Maps

The Blog

Ben Schwab
Art Director

Trending from G/L: Time Travel Maps

How bored are you right this second? Do you currently find yourself tossing pencils upward in an attempt to harpoon the office ceiling? Maybe you’re on the couch binging this year’s Yule Log on Netflix for the second time while scrambling to complete last minute online gift shopping. In the midst of these activities you may begin to wish you had the ability to time travel and control time and space at your will. I’m happy to announce that this holiday season the power described has now been granted to you…sort of.

Since 1984 there have been annual mosaics painstakingly stitched together from satellite imagery of our earth’s surface. The public now has full, interactive access to these maps thanks to the work of Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab and their Time Machine Library, along with the dedicated effort put forth by the team at Google. Together they have managed to painstakingly transform this immense, static archive of imagery into a user-friendly and navigable tool for exploring the face of our dynamic earth. The resulting images are visually striking and breathtaking in their intricate detail and scope.

It took the folks at Google to upgrade these choppy visual sequences from crude flip-book quality to true video footage. With the help of massive amounts of computer muscle, they have scrubbed away cloud cover, filled in missing pixels, digitally stitched puzzle-piece pictures together, until the growing, thriving, sometimes dying planet is revealed in all its dynamic churn. The images are striking not just because of their vast sweep of geography and time but also because of their staggering detail. Consider: a standard TV image uses about one-third of a million pixels per frame, while a high-definition image uses 2 million. The Landsat images, by contrast, weigh in at 1.8 trillion pixels per frame, the equivalent of 900,000 high-def TVs assembled into a single mosaic.

Along with the obvious novelty inherent in watching your hometown expand outwards over the course of three decades in less than three seconds, this tool also gifts us an opportunity to reflect on how we have and continue to impact our planet.

See anything cool recently? Have you figured out other ways to time travel? Send us a note using the form below:

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Trending At G/L: Size Matters Not – Creating Gaming’s Largest Universe with a Tiny Team

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending At G/L: Size Matters Not – Creating Gaming’s Largest Universe with a Tiny Team

Imagine a gaming universe with 18,466,744,073,709,551,616 planets (for those of you who don’t want to count commas, that’s over 18 quintillion, or 18 billion billions). Fathoming such a number is insane. Now picture what must’ve created it. A Big Bang? God? A long-extinct alien civilization?

What if I told you it was a team of just 13 developers?

Mind blown, right? It seems impossible, but it’s the reality behind Hello Games’ new hit video game, No Man’s Sky.

The key ingredient to No Man’s Sky’s expansive universe of quintillions of unique, full-sized planets is a developing trick known as procedural generation. Without parsing the coding mechanics of it, procedural generation in a game like No Man’s Sky generates playspace on the fly, following a pre-programmed gaming algorithm, rather than relying on handcrafted worlds carefully sculpted by artists.

No two planets are alike, and many come with their own native species, which are also procedurally generated. So far, gamers have discovered well over 10 million species.

In the first 24 hours since No Man’s Sky became available, creator Sean Murray has been reporting amazing data that indicate his passion project has been very popular.

After reaching 1 million discoveries in the first hour, the game’s servers continued to hold strong despite being pushed to their limits, resulting in over 10 million discovered species a few hours later.

It’s an impressive universe, created on a shoestring budget (with a relatively small 6GB install size to boot) by a relative handful of incredibly dedicated and resourceful developers. And yet, even if gamers were to discover one new planet per second, it will take 500 billion years to discover each one.

*sigh*

Well… better get started.

If you’re looking to dig deeper into the concept behind No Man’s Sky, take a look at TIME’s recent interview with creator Sean Murray.

Have any initial thoughts? Shoot us a note anytime and we’ll be happy to nerd out:

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Behind the Scenes: Product Videos for Major Retailers (with Lincoln Electric)

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

Behind the Scenes: Product Videos for Major Retailers (with Lincoln Electric)

Product videos on retailer sites lead to greater sales. I’m guessing that’s why retailers like Home Depot®, Lowe’s®, Northern® Tool and others are encouraging their suppliers to provide video and other assets. We recently had the opportunity to jump in the retail video phenomenon for our client, Lincoln Electric, a major manufacturer of welding products and related accessories.

We work with Lincoln Electric’s WTCA division, the retail side of the business. We produced several product videos, 360° videos and more than 150 still photographs which will be posted on a variety of retailer sites, big box stores, farm/ranch dealers, etc.

While my agency has produced many videos and TV spots throughout our 27 years, this was our first where the director and videographer weren’t able to directly watch the shot without eye protection.

I got a chuckle out of seeing our team in welding helmets as they directed the shots.

Lincoln Electric

Our client sells through a variety of retail outlets but not all carry the same helmets, clothing and equipment. So while shooting the videos, we had to keep track of the clothes and other items used by the talent so each video contained only the products sold by each retailer.

Welding is one of those specializations where a true welder would be quick to catch any discrepancies regarding technique, skill level or applications that a novice welder like me would not notice. So we sourced a professional welder who now teaches high schoolers the skills of the trade. Our clients at Lincoln Electric were so impressed with him and his knowledge that they donated helmets and gloves to the school as a way to help his students. Thank you Lincoln Electric!

 

lincoln electric

Alongside the product videos, we produced 25 360° videos that allow customers a view of the entire product. It’s amazing what requirements retailers have for these. Some are actual videos and others are up to 27 still shots stitched together. To accomplish these, our videographer, Steve Parisi from Frame Four Studios, built a turntable strong enough to hold the equipment, some which weigh hundreds of pounds.

PortaTorch – Lincoln Electric

To view more examples in this series, visit Retail Product Videos.

This was an amazing project for a great client that appreciates quality work. If you are needing videos to support your retail or distribution sales, please give me a call – Dan Diveley, 314-727-5850 or email me at [email protected] or fill out the form below.

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Trending from G/L: Why Ili Means You Wasted Your Time on Rosetta Stone

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: Why Ili Means You Wasted Your Time on Rosetta Stone

Joining the travel agent, newspaper editor, and Blockbuster clerk, the professional translator may be the next to find themselves searching the classifieds, thanks to a new innovation in the field of multicultural communication. The Logbar ili is a new, soon to hit the market wearable translator, the next evolution in translation technology.

One of the first capable of voice recognition and verbal translation, it relies on its own self contained operating system, rather than having to be built around an existing platform like current and unreliable phone applications are. About the size and shape of the original iPod shuffle (and arriving almost a decade after), the first generation ili is currently capable of translating between Chinese, Japanese, and English, facilitating nearly instant multilingual conversation between any combinations of the three. Version two will add French, Thai, and Korean, and version three will add Spanish, Italian, and Arabic.

Without a current list price or the ability to pre-order one, it’s tough to say when this device (and others sure to follow soon) will begin to diffuse through any number of cultures and languages, but the process of instant and accurate translation from a wearable piece of technology is essentially priceless to those in both the business and personal world.

Though currently limited in dialect and surely far from peak efficiency, the ili exemplifies improvements to and enforcement of the current trends in personal technology, being both wearable, and accelerating the ever more important idea of a “glocal” mindset. Like the first run of any groundbreaking technology, I won’t rush out to buy one.

While the concept is exciting and the uses seem infinite, this seems to be a stepping stone in the field of global communication technologies, paving the way for a world with seamless and universal conversation, one, which I can’t be the only one looking forward to.

Have any thoughts? Shoot us a note here.

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Top G/L Tips: Tim Leon on Brand Refresh benefits

The Blog

Tim Leon
President/Brand Strategist

Top G/L Tips: Tim Leon on Brand Refresh benefits

How is your company’s brand perceived by your target audience? Is it full of life or is time to re-energize it?

In this video, Tim Leon, president of Geile/Leon, shares his 25+ years of experience in helping companies refresh their biggest asset: the brand. He’ll walk you through the key questions that need to be asked, including:

· Why do a brand refresh?
· When does it make the most sense for your brand?
· What are the steps needed to execute it effectively?

Watch the video here:

Have any further questions? Tim is passionate about branding and would be happy to have a conversation. Contact him by phone at 314-727-5850, ext 117, email at [email protected] or use the form below.

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Top G/L Tips: Randy Micheletti on New Product Launches

The Blog

Randy Micheletti
VP, Director of Brand Strategy

Top G/L Tips: Randy Micheletti on New Product Launches

New products launches are so exciting. But as the saying goes, you only have one chance to get it right!

Here are 6 key steps for successful product launches. Randy Micheletti, VP at Geile/Leon, shares his process to ensure every launch is successful:

Are you working on a product launch? Randy is happy to discuss your goals and make a few recommendations. Contact him by phone at 314-727-5850, ext 110, email at [email protected] or use the form below.

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You’re Never Too Small for Inbound Marketing

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

You’re Never Too Small for Inbound Marketing

So much has been written about using social media to support inbound marketing. Day-to-day I speak with all size marketers, and I understand that the use of inbound marketing for smaller companies gets a little confusing. Because of this, I thought I’d pass along a real world example that was successful.

I was conducting an interview to prepare for a meeting with a manufacturer who was considering working with Geile/Leon. The prospective client provided me with several distributors to talk to, and all but one were well established in their territories and had a steady line of business generated from the traditional sales process.

One distributor I spoke with told me he contracted to sell this manufacturer’s product line two years ago. His assigned territory had not been a hot sales zone for many years, so in a way it was similar to the challenges of a new market for the manufacturer.

His first year was tough. The manufacturer’s brand wasn’t very well known in the territory—mostly due to a lack of advertising support—so it was up to the distributors to build the brand. Another issue was that there is little difference in quality, cost, and performance of this brand and the other comparable products in this category. He had considered adding more sales people, but worried about adding this additional expense while waiting for sales to grow.

Then, over the Christmas holiday he was talking to his son who was home from college. They discussed the challenges he was facing and his son said, “Most people go online to find stuff, so why don’t you do something to get them to find you?”

This was an epiphany for him – as a small marketer in a very specific business, he didn’t consider this option.

After doing some research, he decided to take the plunge and create an inbound marketing strategy, despite the fact that his distributorship is small, with just one location serving a two state area. With some marketing agency help, an inbound  marketing strategy was outlined that includes:

  • Developing personas of his customers so he had a clear understanding of who he was targeting
  • Using online ads to drive traffic to his site and increase his search placements
  • Incorporating the appropriate social media sites to promote content and interact with the target audience
  • Developing a list of key words and phrases and constantly monitoring how they are performing
  • Creating content (videos, blogs, white papers) about issues important to his target audience
  • Making the website more user-friendly, allowing customers to easily respond to offerings
  • Initiating a sales strategy to turn prospects into customers

After just six months, his new program began to bear fruit. Website visitors increased 300%, while leads from visitors resulted in increased sales – in fact, many of those leads were from companies he hadn’t pursued. And now, thanks to increasing content and improving online traffic, he has reduced his spend on online ads and pay-for-clicks because search engines are listing his site on the first page now.

This is just one example of how success can come from inbound marketing – even if you think your business is too small to benefit from it. If you dive deeper into who your audience truly is and what they are looking for, a strategic digital marketing strategy takes shape.

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