COVID-19 Makes Digital Marketing the New Normal for Higher Education
Digital marketing brings more potential student contacts through the sales funnel than traditional recruiting methods, and COVID-19 is making it even more important.
The COVID-19 health pandemic has changed the way the world works, plays and learns. This makes digital marketing essential to those in the higher education community. With in-person campus visits largely on hold and fall semesters facing a high degree of uncertainty, higher education marketers are counting on new digital options to attract the best candidates.
While this creates a paradigm shift for marketers in the higher education space, best practices are already being built around the way things may look moving forward. Institutions are embracing digital technologies to improve flow in their marketing funnel through the pinpointed use of digital communication.
Digital communication is incredibly effective in today’s recruiting environment. It gives universities access to students who will not have the typical “college visit” experience. It also offers opportunities for tailored interaction that may otherwise fall by the wayside.
Online programming in a COVID-19 world
Online learning has gained traction in recent years, and the global pandemic only accelerated the trends. Promoting online classes and degrees is the way many higher learning institutions are finding new students. Being able to stand out and differentiate the learning path is important to your institution’s current and long-term health.
Here are four kinds of digital communication that will help you connect with students in the socially distant world, and the new normal that’s evolving from it.
1. Virtual tours are the introduction to today’s colleges and universities
Virtual tours have become more popular in the higher education space. The idea of what a college candidate could become by attending your school, however, has more impact than the brick-and-mortar campus itself. With social distancing protocols in place and uncertainty as to whether classes will be held in-person, that aspect of the school may mean less to potential students. Your ability to communicate the convenience of online classes from a student’s standpoint becomes a big part of the “tour.”
Virtual tours can be tailored to various majors, with pieces of the tour hosted by faculty in charge of the classes and curriculum. This allows the prospective student to get a feel for the university and its unique systems and culture, but also to get to know the instructors and their styles.
2. Webinars are your first connection to students
Webinars on platforms such as Zoom have exploded as people across the country work and conduct business from home. Everything from company board meetings to county committee meetings are being held on virtual platforms. Cutting-edge higher education players are jumping into that game as well.
Webinars can allow tailored presentations for various majors, or for things a university may want to highlight. They make a great, no-pressure introduction to colleges or universities a student may not have known previously. High school students tend to look at universities with which they are familiar, and they often do not broaden the search too far beyond those options.
With a webinar marketed through social media, for instance, an institution can funnel contacts into its marketing system and follow up with more targeted information based on the webinar Q&A. Engaging potential clients through a live webinar could lead them to download other gated, content such as a career guide, college budget worksheet, or a “must-have for college” list.
3. Email keeps the content funnel flowing
A recent poll from World University Rankings showed that 76% of U.S. high school students preferred colleges and universities contact them via email. Email allows the institution to market to several lists of candidates based on major of interest or other factors, and even personalize individual emails to reflect personal interests. Sending a series of emails to each potential candidate can help move them through the marketing funnel.
Emails can also be used to promote online courses as a solution for those looking to further their careers or improve their marketability to prospective employers. With the world changing the way business is done, even those who felt they had a stable career path are now finding a need to change and adapt. This often requires a new skill set. Those students can then be nurtured once they sign on by sending at-home study tips and other techniques to help them learn to make the time to study effectively and amidst their busy lives.
4. Social media allows marketers to meet students where they live
“Meet them where they live,” is a tried and true marketing adage. High school juniors and seniors have lived most of their lives with various social media platforms. They are comfortable receiving information through these platforms. Using a platform such as Instagram to tell current student stories and relay other university happenings has been successful for those who have taken embraced this digital experience.
Connecting on social media brings a university to top-of-mind for many potential candidates. It also has great potential to add to the marketing funnel. People with like interests are often “friend” or follow each other on social media. After all, that’s the whole point of social networks.
Social media is not only a direct way to contact potential students, but it is also very transparent, making the marketing team’s job easier. With analytics available on most platforms, you can understand who is seeing which messages, how they’re interacting with them, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
The world of digital marketing can be tricky, but KWALL will help navigate those sometimes-difficult seas. There is no agency on earth with more direct web experience within higher education than we have, and that lets us deliver the digital experiences you and your students need. Spend your time on education, and KWALL will help drive traffic through the marketing funnel and increase student engagement.