Technology is the dominant tool that is taking the mankind forward. In terms of technological advancement, we have reached a certain level, where we are now opened for tremendous possibilities. Technology has enabled in the creation of several new types of jobs, which did not even existed a few years ago.
Even the nature of higher education has transformed in the process. The newly created jobs demand a certain specialised skill-sets from the employees, which can be delivered only by educational institutions. In fact, universities, colleges and educational institutions are offering new, exciting, innovative and relevant courses for millions of students who aspire to fulfil these new job-roles.
Due to the expanding scope of technology and the newer skill-sets that it demands, the main focus of higher education courses have shifted towards being more practical, industry relevant, employment oriented and suiting corporate demands.
Today, educational degree is no longer location specific. A lot of online courses are being created that are deemed to bring good income to the students. This good news for students as the education system is gaining more significance. But this has also lead to increasing competition among higher education institutions to maximize student enrolment and deliver the best of the best education services.
As a result, higher education institutions are seeking assistance from digital marketing agencies to build an effective strategy to communicate with the potential students, parents and industry experts and other stakeholders in order to build a strong brand image.
In today’s scenario where more and more people prefer digital medium over traditional ones, digital marketing is becoming more dominant and prominent in persuading the target group.
Digital marketing is more relevant, especially for higher education sector since students have the highest internet consumption rate than any other group. Moreover, digital marketing makes targeting and re-targeting possible.
Students can be influenced 24/7 and be inspired to bond with your brand. Thus, here are 15 useful digital marketing action plans that you need to consider in 2019, that are deemed to yield positive results:
1. Mobile Optimization
In terms of internet accessing platform, mobile users have surpassed laptop users, making it clear that mobile is the most common platform used to access internet. Mobile is also highly popular among students.
Hence, while developing the website, educational institutions must remember to make their sites mobile-friendly. Mobile optimization is the first and foremost strategy for higher education. If your site does not support mobile platforms, then you will be missing out on a great number of potential students.
2. Technical SEO
Today, SEO is no longer limited to keywords and language. Google Analytics are constantly changing and only the technically strong websites will be listed on the top search results.
This means, even if your web pages are precisely optimized in terms of language, you still cannot escape the possibility of not being listed in top search results – if your website is loaded with technical errors such as 404 errors, broken/missing XML sitemaps, slow page loading times, reproduced content, irrelevant content etc.
However, to optimize your webpage technically, you may require assistance from a web developer. Nevertheless, technical SEO is a strategy that educational institutions cannot neglect.
3. Link Building
Link Building must be your fundamental criteria while formulating an effective SEO strategy for your educational institution.
Today, the quality of a web page is not restricted to content alone. The average time spent by on your website by a visitor depends on relevant back links present on your website.
Suppose your website is devoid of backlinks. Then, the user will skim through your website information and then jump to another website for more information. However, when you provide several backlinks to access other related information on your website, the user engagement can be retained as they navigate through your website for a much longer duration. Hence, include a lot of backlinks to engage and retain your webpage visitors.
4. Re-targeting Campaigns
Re-targeting is a slow but steady process and has higher effectiveness than traditional targeting. Re-targeting is not only cost effective, but also yields more conversion rates.
The major advantage of re-targeting is that it enables you to reach out to prospective students who have shown an interest in your education services via various channels across the internet. Re-targeting is also a successful strategy to expand the size of your target audience.
You can initially start the campaign to spread brand awareness and later on you can re-target prospective students who have considered your educational institution as an option.
5. Managed Ad Placement
Managed Placement is a process of placing your PPC ads on relevant web pages that are related to your program. For example, suppose if you want to promote your latest online course on data management – then it is beneficial to place your ads on a website related to data education, which is more likely to be visited by a potential student for that course.
You can also display you ads on web pages that are dedicate to higher education and career advancement. In this way, managed ad placement not only helps to regulate marketing budget, but also helps to reach the most appropriate prospects in an efficient way.
6. On-page SEO
SEO is an indispensible element of every successful digital marketing strategy. After all, it is SEO that enhances your brand visibility on search engines, which is the primary platform for a user’s searches. So make sure that the content on your web page is well optimized for searches.
You need to consider several criteria such as including affluent title tags, appropriate meta-descriptions, optimum keyword density, refined headers, internal links, etc.
7. Conversion Oriented Content
Initially, the desired rate of conversion must be decided based on your business objectives. This helps to craft quality content that is focused towards enhancing conversion rate. Conversion oriented content, by its nature, aims at addressing potential students in the sales funnel.
Conversion oriented content can be generated by describing details about your institutions such as its amenities, infrastructure, campus facilities, faculty details, placement records, fees structure etc. which will directly persuade students to link with you.
8. Traffic Oriented Content
In a successful digital marketing strategy, language is not the only parameter considered in generating quality content.
Today, the ‘quality’ of content is determined by whether the content is capable of increasing traffic as well as page ranking. So make sure that your content is focused towards generating more traffic and enhancing rankings. This can be achieved by carrying out a keyword research with special focus on long-tail variations of core keywords.
In this regard, keyword clusters is highly beneficial to streamline your content and to identify several other areas related to your keywords. This in turn will also help to build upon the quality of information delivered through content.
9. Social Sharing Oriented Content
Social Signals form a significant share of Google algorithm in deciding your page rankings. They refer to a webpage’s collective shares, comments and likes. In other words, social signals indicate the ‘popularity’ of a webpage as perceived by the search engines.
The latest Google analytics reveal social signals influence the organic search ranking of a web page. Hence, while developing content for your educational institution, keep in mind that the content promotes social media sharing, likes, comments etc. Your content must keep your audience sharing and taking about it.
10. Stakeholder Networking
In order to increase the efficiency of your webpage, it is necessary to gain inputs from several stakeholders of higher education such as professors, present students, alumni, industry professionals, parents etc. For example, by interacting with professors, you will get an insight of research areas.
By interacting with industry experts, you will get details about career opportunities. By talking to the alumni, you will get an idea of the uniqueness of your institution and how it has helped them carve a career path. By talking to parents and potential students, you will understand their expectations. Thus, it gives you 360 degree understanding of a higher education institution, and this information can be used to develop the most efficient digital marketing strategy.
11. Effective Pitch Writing
Pitch Writing must be an essential part of PR process for higher education institutions. It refers to email/letters that you write to editors and journalists explaining the uniqueness of your brand.
Pitch writing must be done creatively, so as to represent your brand under a distinctive light. Pitch writing not only enhances the brand awareness, but also helps to build a positive reputation in the industry. You can encourage your stakeholders such as students, alumni, parents, faculty and corporate professionals to write pitches as well.
12. Gather Media Attention
This is perhaps the most effective way for writing pitches for your brand. In order to stay on the top of the news, you must develop a critical understanding of the latest developments in the higher education sector. Following the latest news and acting upon it helps you so stay ahead of others in your endeavours.
For example, if you observe the latest trends in higher education and encourage your faculty to write their opinions in a pitch, then it helps to leverage your faculty expertise and thus gather attention from the media and the industry.
13. Identify your Podium
While developing an effective social media strategy, you must identify the most relevant social media platforms in which your potential students are highly active. Generally, the three main social media platforms popular among the student community are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Once you decide on the platforms in which you are going to campaign, the next step is to understand the algorithms of those platforms. For example, the latest algorithm of Facebook prioritizes the posts of a user’s family and friends.
Similarly, on Instagram, it is visuals-first and eye-popping graphics. In Twitter, its about concise but informational content. Hence, you need to identify the most active hashtags with respect to higher education and include them in your posts.
14. Go Live!
One common and dominant algorithm on all prominent social networks is live video. This trend is popular among students on social media. Therefore live streaming can be utilized to maximum extent in gathering attention of prospective students.
One such tactic woud be hosting a live Q&A session and address FAQs regarding application and admission process, fee structure, learning amenities and opportunities etc. To give students a better feel about your institution and the courses available, you can ask your faculty, students and alumni to share their perspective and connect with the prospects.
15. Engage 24/7 with Chatbots
Chatbots are changing the ways we communicate over internet. In fact, chatbots are reducing wastage of time and speeding up our actions. Chatbots can be implemented effectively as a part of digital strategy for educational institutions.
For example, chatbots can answer student queries in an instant and speed up the admission process. Chatbots are on the rise on social media and having an exclusive chatbot for your institution also helps in portraying you as a tech-savvy and futuristic education brand.
The above mentioned strategies can be categorized into five divisions: Technical, Ad Campaigns, Content Development, User Engagement and PR. This will also help to prioritize your budget and help to identify where you lack. Mobile Optimization, Technical SEO and Link Building can be considered as strategies of technical nature.
Similarly, Re-targeting and Managed Placement can be a part of your Ad campaigns. On-page SEO, Conversion Oriented Content, Traffic Oriented Content and Social Sharing Oriented Content can be bucketed as an element of content marketing strategy. While Stakeholder Networking, Pitch Writing and Media Relations can be a part of your PR strategy, Social Media Management, Live Streaming and Chatbots can be a part of your User Engagement Strategy.
Completion is arising in all the sectors and industries, and higher education is not an exception. It has become a necessity to increase your reputation and visibility in a world driven by data flood and also compete against increasing number of other players.
In this regard, these fifteen digital marketing action plans contribute a great deal in representing your education brand to the prospective students in the right light. The above mentioned strategies are relevant to 2020, and we will witness major higher education players implementing them in the coming days.