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Do you want to encourage more students to enroll at your college this year? You’ll need to generate brand awareness and leads first. Otherwise, prospective students might not even realize your trade school or college is an option.

About 61% of marketers already claim lead generation is their top challenge. Without a strong digital marketing strategy, your college could fade into the background.

Here are 13 digital marketing trends that can help your college stand out online. With these trends, you can engage prospective students and draw them to your website. Then, you can start encouraging more visitors to enroll in your school.

You can generate more inquiries and enrollment this year while standing apart from other higher education institutions in the area!

Set your digital marketing plan up for success. Discover the higher education marketing trends you need to succeed with this guide today!

1. EAT

Search engine optimization (SEO) can help your website content rank higher on search engines like Google. Higher search engine rankings can help you generate:

  • Brand awareness and recognition
  • Website traffic
  • Leads, form submissions, student enrollments, etc.
  • Brand trust and loyalty
  • Credibility

You can improve your rankings to reach the top of a search engine results page (SERP). Higher rankings will also position your website ahead of the competition. Prospective students will see your college’s website before any other online.

Boosting your rankings could position you as a thought leader in the higher education industry as well. You can improve your credibility, helping brand trust grow. If people trust you, they might decide to reach out.

If you want to build your credibility and boost your search engine rankings, focus on EAT.

EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. You can establish EAT within your content.

First, focus on developing a brand for your college. Develop a strong, attention-grabbing brand story, too.

As you begin creating SEO-optimized blog content, consider using author biographies for each post. Biographies will help readers recognize the writer’s experience and expertise. You could generate brand trust as a result.

Make sure you’re creating high-quality content that offers readers actionable advice.

If you make any claims within your content, back them up using data, statistics, or research. You could start generating backlinks from high-quality websites. Backlinks can improve your search engine rankings. 

Establishing EAT will demonstrate your credibility, which could lead to brand trust and loyalty.

2. Artificial Intelligence

As you track the latest digital marketing trends, don’t neglect the world’s growing reliance on artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, Google uses AI to better understand consumers.

For example, Google uses AI to better understand a search engine user’s search intent. Their intent indicates what they expect to find during a Google search. If you don’t understand the user’s intent, your content might not appeal to their needs.

For example, prospective students might need navigational information about your college.

Perhaps they want to learn more about your courses and degrees. Maybe they’re looking for a “how-to” guide regarding the enrollment process. 

Take the time to research your target audience, as well as the keywords they use within a search. Gathering information about your audience can help you create content that appeals to their search intent.

Otherwise, you might create content that fails to meet the reader’s needs or expectations. They’ll leave your site without enrolling as a result.  

3. Stories and Live Streams

As you improve your higher education marketing strategy, don’t neglect the latest social media marketing trends. Social media marketing can help you generate brand awareness. Boosting your online visibility could help you generate more website traffic. 

Then, you can show off your courses, events, programs, and more to attract more students.

Consider using Stories this year. You can use stickers to create interactive content, too. For example, you can encourage engagement with polls and quizzes.

Consider hosting more live streams as well. Live video content will help you leverage the fear of missing out (FOMO). Followers and prospective students will want to see your content before it disappears.

Experiment with different types of video content as well. For example, you can give a live tour of your campus. You can create helpful how-to videos or give a “day in the life” perspective, too. 

4. Core Web Vitals

If you want to make the most of these digital marketing trends, don’t neglect your website. An old, outdated, or slow website could scare away prospective students. Instead, run your website through Google’s:

  • Core Web Vitals
  • Mobile-Friendly Test
  • PageSpeed Insights

Google’s Core Web Vitals ensures your providing users with a positive online experience. Otherwise, they could leave without clicking around. If they leave, your clickthrough rate and dwell times might drop.

Your bounce rate might start to increase. A high bounce rate will hurt your search engine rankings, making it more difficult for students to find your website online.

Make sure your website is optimized for smaller screens as well. If it’s not mobile-optimized, you could neglect a portion of your audience.

Otherwise, make sure your website is secure and fast. PageSpeed Insights will help you determine what’s causing your pages to lag. For example, you might need to update your hosting or optimize large image files. 

5. Voice Search and Featured Snippets

As part of your search engine optimization strategy, it’s important to track the latest SEO trends as well. For example, more people are using voice assistants to complete online searches.

In fact, nearly 50% of people use voice for general web searches. About 75% of voice search results rank in the top three for that query. 

About 40% of voice search answers come from featured snippets as well. Featured snippets are formatted search results that appear at the top of a search page. Featured snippets appear in position zero, above organic results.

Ranking for position zero will help your website content appear before any other website. You can boost brand awareness and rank ahead of other colleges. Prospective students will see your website before any other.

Featured snippets appear as summaries, bullet points, lists, videos, and other formats. Appearing for featured snippets will ensure your content is prominent and eye-catching. You could generate more website traffic by ranking for featured snippets.

Your content could appear for a voice search, too.

If you want to start ranking for voice search and featured snippets, consider your keyword research. Use tools like SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Trends to get started. Focus on longtail keywords that are posed as questions.

Then, answer the reader’s question within the opening paragraph of your post.

Formatting your post for specific snippets, such as bullets or lists, could increase your chances of ranking for a snippet, too. 

When creating your content, make sure to focus on providing readers with useful, helpful information. Otherwise, you won’t generate the website traffic you need to improve your rankings.

Consider using Schema markup, too. Formatting your content using Schema could boost your rankings.

Once you appear for featured snippets and voice searches, you can start generating more awareness, traffic, and leads. 

6. Social eCommerce

As you update your social media digital marketing plan, consider making the most of social eCommerce. For example, you can sell school merch straight through Instagram.

Social eCommerce makes it easier for people to shop from their favorite apps. You can improve the user experience and streamline their shopping experience. You could boost sales for your school shop as a result. 

7. Virtual and Augmented Reality

As you develop your content creation digital marketing strategy, consider using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) this year. You can get started by using Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. These social media apps already have filters you can use to create interactive experiences.

Creating interactive experiences could make it easier for prospective students to recall your brand.

8. UGC and Influencer Marketing

Students want to see themselves reflected within your content. As you develop your digital marketing plan, consider sharing user-generated content (UGC). First, create a branded hashtag for your college.

Then, encourage your current or incoming students to use the hashtag when posting about your institution. Share their content and start engaging with your audience.

You can also work with influencers and students at your college to reach a broader audience online. 

9. Personalization

As you develop your digital marketing strategy, make sure to focus on personalization.

Personalization will help you better appeal to prospective students based on their distinct needs and interests. First, take the time to research your target audience. For example, you might want to create groups based on:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Career path
  • Buying behaviors
  • Pain points
  • Majors and minors
  • Interests
  • Hobbies

You might consider creating groups for recent high school graduates versus older students. Perhaps you want to focus on undergraduate versus graduate programs instead.

Creating distinct groups will help you better communicate with prospective students. Otherwise, a blanket message might not appeal to every student. After all, older students will likely have different needs, interests, and pain points.

You can use personalization to connect and empathize with each group.

In fact, about 84% of people say being treated like a person, not a number, is important. About 75% of people get frustrated when content doesn’t appeal to their interests. Another 52% will switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communications.

Meanwhile, 50% of millennials and Gen Zers ignore communications from companies unless they personalize. Another 73% expect companies to communicate with them in real-time as well. 

Personalizing your entire digital marketing plan can drive results. About 90% of marketers experience a measurable lift in results by personalizing.

Personalization could deliver eight times the ROI on your overall marketing spend, too. 

Create distinct personas based on the students you’re trying to reach. Then, determine what they’re searching for online. Gather keyword research for each distinct group.

You’ll use your keyword research to create high-quality blog content and marketing messages that appeal to each persona. You’ll have an easier time appealing to prospective students as a result. 

10. High-Quality Content

Developing your blog content marketing strategy can help you connect with prospective students. Use your keyword research to inform your content marketing strategy. Then, experience with different forms of content.

For example, you can create blog posts, eBooks, and infographics. Try interactive content like polls and quizzes.

Don’t forget to add video content to your digital marketing strategy, too. Following digital marketing trends within your content strategy can help your posts stand out. 

11. Chatbots

Think about the last time you were left on hold when trying to reach a business. People don’t want to wait around for answers to their questions anymore. Instead of using a call answering service, consider adding a chatbot to your website. 

About 75% of people prefer live chat over any other channel. Meanwhile, 51% of people expect businesses to remain available 24/7. 

Live chat could improve conversion rates by 12%, too. 

You can use live chat to answer the questions prospective students are asking while they’re on your website. That way, prospective students don’t have to wait for answers when they have questions. Using a live chat system can improve their online user experience.

Improving the visitor’s user experience can encourage them to enroll. They’ll remember their positive experience, too. Otherwise, they might leave without becoming a lead or enrolling in your college.

You’re no longer limited to using live chat, though. Consider pairing live chat with a chatbot. A chatbot can answer questions when you’re not available.

That way, prospective students never have to wait around for the answers they need.

12. Automation

Once you develop your higher education marketing strategy, start automating. Automation can save you valuable time and effort. 

For example, you can automate an email marketing campaign to continue nurturing leads. 

13. Inclusive

As you develop your digital marketing plan, make sure to remain inclusive. Show students who fall within different demographics and groups.

People want to see themselves within your content. 

Ahead of the Curve: 13 Digital Marketing Trends for the Higher Education Industry

Help your institution stand out from the rest! Consider using these digital marketing trends when developing your higher education marketing strategy. With these tips, you can generate brand awareness and stand out online.

Then, you can draw more students to your institution to boost enrollment with ease!

Need help? We’re here to help you succeed.

Contact us today to get started.

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