When it comes to marketing and communication, not many industries need to focus on the "cool factor" as much as colleges and universities. Sure, the academic standing and historical characteristics are a big sell to students, but it could very well come down to how engaging and "cool" your educational marketing tools turn out to be.
Educational marketing is a tough grind. There are new communication mediums popping up all the time and you need to be on top of them.
Read on, and we'll take a look at some of the top educational marketing tools and trends out there, and how social media, mobile interaction, and even good old-fashioned campus visits are working in college marketing these days. As a bonus, we will also mention how marketing automation can make it all happen.
Here are 5 Cool Educational Marketing Tools and Trends
1. Using QR Codes for Interaction
You are going to be hard-pressed to find a student who doesn't own an iPhone, Samsung or any other kind of smartphone. These technical extensions of our arms are able to read QR codes. Educational institutions are using QR codes to connect with college students, generating codes to place in newspaper ads, posters, billboards and more in order to encourage students to interact with the school. Typically, QR codes drive social media interaction on sites like Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook, but some colleges also drive students to applications and admissions information right on the spot. Using QR codes on posters that drive potential students to find the college on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will ultimately nurture them to enroll. You can also drive students to sign up for more information and then you have their personal data for further targeting.
Marketing automation: Set a QR code to go to a landing page that has a form included. Once a student signs up and opts in, they will enter a nurturing campaign which can trigger any number of content pieces and opportunities for the school to engage. Personalized user data can make each aspect highly targeted to one student, making them feel much more wanted. You can also include triggers that send SMS tips or reminders and sharing content over social media channels.
2. Recruiting Using Facebook
Social media is without a doubt one of the most effective educational marketing tools out there. Focusing on Facebook to engage students is must among college kids since most spend at least part of their day on the social networking site. So it's no surprise that colleges are using Facebook for its recruiting possibilities. In fact, in a recent study, it was revealed that 90% of America's top colleges use social media in their recruiting process, and often that social media is Facebook. By encouraging students to like, share, comment, and check in on Facebook, your college will show up in their news feed and their friends still in high school will see it over and over again. Facebook, for the most part, is free marketing and the greater the reach the more effective it will be.
Marketing automation: Add Facebook posting to your automated lead nurturing campaigns to further share messages that students are seeing. These posts can include links to landing pages or signup forms to enter new students into the pipeline.
3. Highly Effective SMS Marketing for College Campaigns
Although social media is certainly impressive, colleges are seeing almost as much success with text messaging. Using SMS or text marketing for college marketing is an ideal way to market to college-bound students who typically live on their cell phones and use more texts than voice minutes. Colleges are starting to use turnkey, managed packages that allow them to take advantage of text message marketing and mobile engagement without the overhead of developing their own app. SMS messages are quick, easy-to-use educational marketing tools, and the odds of engagement are extremely high as the majority of text messages are opened within five minutes of being received.
Marketing automation: As part of a workflow, you can include text message reminders for important dates that students need to know or interesting facts about your school. The beauty of this is that when a student triggers the message they will appreciate its quick delivery and personalization to their specific interests.
4. Don't Forget Open House Events
In addition to specific days for high school students to visit your school, open houses are incredibly effective educational marketing tools. You are probably thinking, how is an event new and trendy? Well, the event itself is not, but the way you promote, host and engage attendees is. Open house events offer another way to get prospective students physically on campus, often with their parents and friends who can help them make a final decision when it comes to college. Students are able to meet with faculty, staff, and students who represent various programs, departments, and organizations, and have the opportunity to find out everything they might want to know about the campus. Open houses are wildly popular and a huge part of the entire recruitment process.
Marketing automation: Send an email or SMS invite to your students and let them RSVP online at any time. Once they decide to attend or decline, you can break both groups off into automated workflows. For those who want to attend, information can include need-to-know information, fun stories and of course reminders. Those who decline can be sent a survey so you can learn why they are not attending and also information that could sway them back to wanting to attend your event.
5. Monitoring All Those Mentions
Schools these days realize that students are almost certainly going to be discussing colleges online, and there are many tools available that make it easy to not only find out what they're saying, but also to join the conversation. You want to know what people are saying about your brand because it can be some of the most real feedback you will get. This can include setting up Google Alerts and social mentions to get notified when students are talking about your school online. Then your team is able to respond with positive affirmation or, in the case of misinformation, have the opportunity to correct misunderstandings. If you are not actively monitoring what students are saying, you are missing out on a key avenue for engagement.
Marketing automation: With a contact manager, you can easily track how students/prospects are interacting with your properties. As they move through each stage of your process, easily track and have their user profile updated. This will help your recruitment team know who is hot or cold when it comes to your school. You can also monitor what they are saying on social media sites like Twitter and have everything fed into one central location. This collected data can be used to further personalize the engagement of each student.