The back-to-school ads have started and students will be returning to campus for the fall semester in the blink of an eye. Before campus is bustling with the energy of a new academic year, ensure your higher ed marketing program is refreshed and ready to go for the year ahead. Start by tackling these higher ed marketing projects during the final weeks of summer.
Audit your website
Sounds like fun, right? Who needs beaches and ice cream when you can have a website audit instead?! While culling through a content-rich website can be a tedious and time intensive process, ensuring your online marketing content is up-to-date and engaging is a key component of attracting students to your college or university. When auditing your website look for:
- Broken links
- Dated photos
- Outdated program descriptions
- Opportunities to strengthen content with student testimonials
- Missing content
- An outdated newsroom
- Opportunities to make your higher ed marketing more visual
Your website is your 24/7 marketing hub and plays an important role in recruiting students. Be sure it is making an optimal first-impression at all times.
Start connecting with new alumni
While a new school year is only a few weeks away, the most recent commencement ceremony is likewise only a few weeks behind you. How will you leverage marketing and communications to maintain strong relationships with the newest alumni as they begin their careers? Dust off your alumni communications plan and make enhancements to increase engagement and effectiveness during the months ahead. If you work with a higher education marketing firm, engage their creative thinking in the process. Remember, two heads are better than one!
Analyze the analytics
With an increasingly digital world comes the ability to measure marketing more effectively than ever before. Take the time to look at your website analytics, email marketing open and click through rates, social media engagement, PR reach, etc. and let data inform strategic refinements for the year ahead. Use the insights you gather from your data to create opportunities to replicate your marketing successes. Likewise, reallocate your higher ed marketing resources towards the top performing strategies and tactics in your marketing program.
Assess your competitors’ marketing
When prospective students enroll at another college or university, where do they go most often? Gathering data from your admissions team that reflects which colleges and universities you are competing with for enrollment can help hone the list of schools to assess. When evaluating your competitors’ marketing, consider:
- What channels they are using
- The focus of their messaging
- What they highlight as their differentiating point(s)
- How they market life on campus
- What students are saying about their experience at XYZ university
With the findings from your competitive analysis in-hand, it’s time to refine your strategy to ensure clear brand positioning and that your unique selling points are clearly communicated across all of your higher education marketing channels.
Weave in the student voice
Peer-to-peer communications are powerful. When a prospective student hears from a recent graduate or current student about their experience at your college or university, it has an authenticity and relatability that can’t be replicated in organizational communications. As you look down the list of channels you are using to market your higher education institution, consider which are well-poised to connect the student voice with your target audiences. Examples may include social media marketing channels such as Instagram (perhaps a series of day-long student Instagram takeovers are in order?) and video.
Marketing for higher education isn’t one-size-fits-all. Just as every college and university offers a unique on-campus experience and specialized degree programs, the marketing strategies that work for individual colleges and universities are one-of-a-kind. As the final weeks of summer fly by, commit to enhancing your higher ed marketing program to ensure strong performance during the academic year ahead and beyond.