Students are seeking out careers in more in-demand and popular industries. In the Spring of 2023, around 16.9 million students were currently enrolled in postsecondary education. At the same time, vocational and trade school enrollments are also on the rise.
Higher education marketing is an essential part of any school marketing strategy for trade and vocational school marketing, as well as college ads. However, there are mistakes and oversights that can come with marketing higher education.
Want to know what makes a successful marketing strategy for schools? If so, then keep reading below to discover the top 10 mistakes to avoid when marketing higher education.
10. Overlooking Inclusion and Diversity Aspects
The educational world is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach. It is important to showcase individuals from all walks of life. When marketing higher education, you must emphasize a welcoming and diverse environment for persons of all backgrounds and abilities.
Modern student demographics come from a rich background of cultural diversity. There are also students with disabilities and special needs who need to be represented as well. Failure to showcase an inclusive and diverse student body shows that you are not an institution with a global perspective.
An individual researching your institution may not see anyone featured on your website who looks like them. This can deter them from wanting to pursue further education at your school.
Diversity can also do wonders for your school’s reputation. Inclusion and diversity present your school in a more favorable light. Showing diversity and inclusion through your university marketing content gives you a competitive advantage over other institutions.
There are also legal and ethical obligations your institution must uphold to maintain compliance. Overall, universities and trade/vocational schools must demonstrate forward-thinking and diverse worldviews to succeed.
9. Ignoring Your Online Presence
The internet can be a wonderful source of information and a terrific resource for marketing, but it doesn’t do you any good if you’re not utilizing it to the fullest extent.
Your website is often the first impression your school will make on prospective students. If you have an out-of-date website with broken images and non-functional links, this can drive students away.
You should always make sure to keep your website up-to-date with new blog content, videos, and program information. This shows students that you are committed to offering and maintaining the highest level of quality website content for new and returning students.
Your school’s website is a great place to connect with potential students, but it’s not the only place you should be focusing your efforts on. You also need to build up a robust social media presence. Focus on creating and updating school profiles on popular social media platforms like:
- X (formerly Twitter)
Post regular and engaging content on social media to connect with your student demographics. With over 4.88 billion social media users globally, it’s a marketing area you can’t afford to ignore when marketing higher education.
8. Inconsistent Branding Efforts
Branding affects several aspects of marketing higher education. Your school marketing pertains to everything from your logo to your mission statement and even your motto or slogan. If your branding is inconsistent, it can reflect poorly on your institution as a whole.
Some places where your branding can experience inconsistency are in your slogan or tagline. A good, consistent brand uses a tagline or slogan that is easy to remember and doesn’t change. If you’re using multiple slogans or are constantly changing your tagline, it can be difficult to remember and shows that your school is disjointed.
You also need to use consistent color schemes for your school’s branding. Color can impact brand awareness by as much as 80% across all industries and brands, including higher education marketing. Certain colors also evoke psychological feelings and represent traits like trustworthiness, loyalty, and professionalism.
Even using inconsistent font types and sizes can affect your branding efforts. Always make sure to use legible fonts and stick with 1-2 consistent font types and sizes across all of your marketing mediums.
7. Not Using Existing Student Engagement
Your current students are some of the best resources available when it comes to marketing higher education. They can offer insights and firsthand accounts of what it’s really like to attend your institution. Using real student endorsements is an organic way to recruit brand advocates for your school.
Word-of-mouth student referrals are key. They are an ingenious marketing strategy for schools looking to boost their marketing efforts. Relying on real student endorsements builds trust and demonstrates authenticity.
Student engagement helps with current student retention as well. It helps build a sense of community. This lends itself to further enrollment through ambassador programs where the students themselves become recruiters.
You can also tap into past alumni to offer their experiences to prospective students. Share the success stories and accomplishments of your past students to inspire new students to enroll. Have them share their favorite parts of their time at your school.
6. Not Using an Optimal Content Strategy
Don’t just post content to fill a void. Your content must have meaning. It needs to provide value to potential students and parents.
Your content must also be informative. It needs to demonstrate specific details about your school, such as relevant programs or campus life. You may also choose to highlight distinct areas like career outcomes.
Good content should help prospective students find the answers to their questions. Ideally, it should also help address common pain points. If possible, find a way to customize it for each student through interactive prompts.
Ineffective content can be damaging to your school’s reputation. If your content fails to resonate with your target audience, it shows you’re not in touch with their needs.
If your content is compelling and engaging, students are more likely to interact with it. This means they will complete the desired actions, like filling in and submitting the form to request more information.
Highly engaging content is also shareable on social media platforms. Your content will be viewable to other friends and followers. This can help you increase your reach even more when marketing higher education.
5. Ineffective Data Analysis
Higher education marketing can be a daunting task. But with the right tools on your side, you can tap into valuable data regarding your school marketing campaigns. It is imperative that you use this data to your advantage.
Marketing campaign data can show you where your marketing efforts are succeeding and where they could stand to benefit from some improvement. You can view key pieces of information like:
- ROI measurement
- Content relevance
- Engagement rates
- Conversion rates
- Campaign effectiveness
Even if you see less-than-desirable results in your data, don’t throw in the towel and give up. Instead, examine which areas you can improve upon and what can be done to best address these issues. Use this feedback to re-work your school marketing efforts.
Marketing higher education takes some trial and error sometimes. Every business has different needs and areas of focus they need to identify and finetune. But once you find a strategy that works, you can move forward knowing that your future campaigns will be on the right track to success.
4. Not Considering Mobile Optimization
Phones and tablets are a big part of our current culture. People can look up almost anything on the go by doing a simple search on their smartphone or tablet device. If they’re in a waiting room or riding public transit, this is an especially opportune time to take their phones out.
Universities, trade schools, and vocational schools need to consider mobile optimization for this very reason. Prospective students who are searching for higher education opportunities will likely start the search on their smartphone browsers. If they come across a site that isn’t optimized for their mobile devices, it can sour them on the experience.
This means you need to have web pages that show up with the proper display dimensions and orientation. You also need to ensure video content will load and still be viewable from a smaller screen. Links and buttons must be tappable, and any lead forms should be easily accessible as well.
Ensure your pages load quickly. Even a loading time of 3 seconds is too long for many mobile browser users to tolerate before they abandon a site altogether. This is why mobile optimization is crucial for marketing higher education.
3. Forgetting Your Target Demographics
Target demographics provide a roadmap for your school marketing efforts. Instead of throwing out a wide net and spending precious marketing resources to get a few leads in return, you can hone your marketing resources to specific areas of interest and consumer audiences.
For example, are you marketing higher education to working moms looking to advance their education with online degree programs? Then your university content marketing should reflect this.
Conversely, a vocational or trade school may be targeting 18 to 24-year-olds who are looking for an alternative to traditional 2 or 4-year university programs. You have your target age demographic already figured into your marketing strategy. Don’t neglect to take this into account in your marketing efforts.
Your target demographics also influence how you manage your higher education marketing. For younger demographics especially, social media is an ideal platform for reaching the 18-24 age range. Using Instagram for marketing is a smart way to engage with trade school and college-age students since around one-third of users fall between 18 to 24.
2. Not Utilizing Video Marketing for Marketing Higher Education
Video marketing is often overlooked because of its cost and complexity. However, video marketing is one tool that should not be taken for granted. Video content allows you to harness a powerful marketing medium with a high return on investment.
Video content provides memorable and engaging ways to connect with students. You can utilize video content in several ways, including live streaming, video blogs, and accessible video content with captions. Live streams can be used for Q&A sessions, open houses, and orientations.
Video blog content can make college ads stand out for all the right reasons. Well-produced video blogs can highlight areas of interest within your higher learning institution. They can showcase fields of study and other available programs for marketing higher education.
With video marketing, you can also show students around the campus with virtual tours of campus life. Use video content to introduce prospective students to faculty and instructors. Video content can even be used to feature student testimonials.
Video content lets you use storytelling to share your school’s values, history, and impact. You can do so in a way that is visually appealing and meaningful.
1. Neglecting the Proper SEO Tactics
84% of marketers view SEO as a major part of their marketing strategy, yet 51% don’t have a proper SEO strategy in place. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital for marketing higher education.
SEO gives business websites an opportunity to rank organically in search results. SEO keywords boost your website’s ranking in search engines like Google to give a more targeted search result.
Say a prospective student is looking for a particular program or field of study. A student may also be looking for programs in a specific geographical area, known as local SEO. SEO also incorporates the use of short-tail and long-tail keywords for maximum impact.
Short-tail keywords are 1-3 words long and more general, while long-tail keywords are usually 3-5+ words and of a more specific nature. An example of a short-tail keyword could be “MBA programs”. A long-tail local SEO keyword could be something like “best MBA programs for working adults in Michigan.”
Those schools that neglect to optimize their content and their websites for SEO will almost certainly fall behind their competition. It is important to do the proper keyword research to meet the search intent of potential students.
Boost Your Higher Education Marketing Efforts with Local Finder Today
Effective university content marketing can be a tricky concept without the proper knowledge. Now that you understand the most common mistakes to avoid when it comes to marketing higher education, you can develop the best marketing strategy to combat these issues.
Local Finder is an online marketing agency with an aim to help businesses grow. We specialize in high-level online marketing campaigns. We can also help you create digital marketing strategies and content strategies that get results.
If you’re ready to give your higher education marketing efforts a much-needed boost, then contact us today for more information.
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