The internet now gives students more options than ever before when it comes to their education. Modern technology has led to e-learning opportunities, which means intense battles for attention between e-learning solutions and more traditional solutions.
In the 1990s, students would have to visit the library for access to the internet. Eventually, dial-up entered the home and we could access the internet (but nobody could use the landline phone at the same time!). Now, everybody has access to the internet through phones, tablets, computers, laptops, and even smartwatches.
As a result, it’s thought that Google Play and the App Store together have over half a million educational apps. In the past, marketing wasn’t important for educational facilities because the competition was limited. Now, it’s a buyer’s market and educational services need marketing techniques to survive.
Before launching into the important marketing strategies, we first want to point to a couple of trends currently present in the education sector. Firstly, online academies and educational websites are on the rise. $275 billion - this is expected to be the value of the world’s e-learning market by the end of 2022 (Orbis research).
Universities still have prestige and reputation, which is why many students seek the authentic college experience. However, more and more people are choosing to learn remotely. Particularly for older people, online education means they can get an education in a new area without having to leave work or sacrifice time with family. Many universities are actually now offering online learning courses - allowing some to study at American colleges while in other countries entirely.
Additionally, virtual reality and augmented reality are increasing in prominence. In science, engineering, mathematics, and similar fields, companies are supplementing education with virtual 3D models and advanced programs. Students receive a more immersive experience and are more desirable to employers on the other side.
Students don’t want to spend thousands on textbooks while studying. Instead, they’re seeking open-source textbooks and rental services. These solutions are cheap, effective, and convenient - not words to describe the textbook industry that has had a monopoly over students for so long.
With all of this in mind, there are opportunities to develop a USP (unique selling point) in this market. Regardless of experience, reputation, and popularity, marketing is now essential in the education niche.
Everybody is on social media these days - the latest figures suggest 2.8 billion active monthly users for Facebook alone. People use social media to search for everything, and this includes educational facilities and services. In particular, you’ll want to target younger audiences, who are present on Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit.
Before starting, create a buyer persona and ensure you understand the target market. Then, post frequently and create content to connect with this audience.
Before you skip this tip in blind panic, know that creating videos no longer requires expensive equipment and hours of editing. You might be proud of your fantastic article, but younger people would rather watch a short video (even if it contains exactly the same information). One reason to choose video marketing is that it works - it sounds simple, but is there a better reason?
Every day, young people consume hours of content on their smartphones. Why not engage with video yourself? Show off the personality and character of your educational facility whether at a school, university, or another service.
Even educational services have funnels, and you need to keep this in mind when implementing marketing strategies. If you’re new to the world of marketing, a funnel is a marketing model explaining the different types of consumers you’re likely to experience. While some are exploring their options, others are ready to commit and apply to a school.
Consequently, you should have marketing strategies meeting the needs of everybody in the funnel. As well as content designed for brand awareness, you need content that converts and encourages people to choose your service over every other.
Create content for each stage of the funnel and analyze each to assess performance. You’ll want to reach out to people exploring their options, people making a decision, and people ready to choose.
Every single educational offering talks up their service - no school or university ever speaks about their service negatively. Therefore, students are accustomed to ignoring the many sales pitches. If you’re constantly talking about how amazing your service is, people simply won’t listen (sorry!).
Instead, you need somebody else to tell the story, and what better way than people who have used your service? Have you ever wondered why universities get past students to talk about their great experiences? Because it works. Prospective students want to hear people who were in a similar situation to themselves - they want to hear a story applicable to their own situation.
Yes, testimonials are good for the website. However, you can go further with user-generated content by posting student stories and images on social media. Sometimes, an image of somebody playing football on the beautiful turf can say just as much as a video of a student talking about their experience. Ever heard the phrase ‘pictures speak a thousand words’? Encourage prospective students with images of your campus, people playing instruments, sports facilities, the library, and more.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the world has gone mobile. People can search the web whether they’re commuting, in bed, on the sofa, sitting in a waiting room, or elsewhere. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’ll be doing your brilliant educational facility a disservice.
If you aren’t sure how your website performs on mobile, you have three options:
The vast majority of people leave their college, school, or online service with a positive experience - you can give your marketing strategy a kick-start simply by encouraging all students to leave a positive review. People read online reviews before buying a product, and the experience is similar for prospective students.
Don’t force students to sit down with a 356-page document because they won’t want to do it. If you can make a fun and engaging survey, you’ll be surprised at how many students help. Ask them to leave a star rating with an optional comment box. If responses are slow, provide an incentive whether this is a gift card, discount, or another bonus.
You’ve gathered some email addresses of potential students - well done. Now, all that separates you from encouraging these people to join your school is a strong email. Sadly, ‘strong’ isn’t the word used to describe generic, ‘send-to-all’ emails. If you send the same email to everybody, it shows that you don’t care, and the student will go elsewhere.
Therefore, we recommend segmenting your email list and sending a personalized email to each group. If you don’t have experience in marketing, team up with a marketing service that will do this on your behalf. Otherwise, create a message that resonates with each segment and make them feel as though your school, college, or institution is the BEST option for them.
All businesses are now spending on paid ads, and the education industry is no different. With Facebook and other social media platforms (not forgetting Google), we can hyper-target with digital ads and ensure the right people see our ads at the right times. You can target based on intent, demographics, online behavior, engagement patterns, and more.
In order to succeed with this strategy, you’ll need to analyze the performance of ads and ensure that they keep finding the right people. Even the best ad in the world won’t convert somebody who has no interest in becoming a student. Also, make sure the ad is compelling and that the landing page extends the positive experience.
Here are some bonus tips for marketing your educational facility in 2021:
Educational marketing is a must in 2021, and you now know some advanced techniques to get started!