Here Are the Trends in Higher Ed Marketing You Need to Know

college students found through digital marketing for higher ed

Have you hired a marketing agency to help you with student recruitment? If you’ve been down this sometimes bumpy road, please share your experiences. What we hear is that when it comes to boosting enrollment yield through digital marketing, it isn’t enough to hire the best marketers. You need a team that knows marketing, but also knows the ins and outs of higher education. Oh, and they also should know your institution and its students as well as you do.

Do they?

They need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to what works—and what doesn’t—for higher ed marketing. Check out these trends and find out if your agency is on board:

  • Use Big Data and Predictive Analytics: Use big data to gather information about what’s happening in the country, around the world, and on your campus. This will help you discover and analyze patterns in historical and enrollment data to identify opportunities for future engagement with applicants who are most likely to enroll and succeed in your programs and at your institution.


  • Microtarget: By using demographics and psychographics to identify your student body, you can locate what social media platforms call “lookalike” or “act-alike” audiences. Then you can finely hone your marketing messages, whether in the form of traditional or digital recruitment materials, to match the prospective student’s interests to the assets.


  • Produce Effective Content Marketing: Each and every student who crosses the actual or virtual threshold of your institution lives as the hero of his or her own story. You have a choice: be a cold and foreboding backdrop to their educational achievement. Or be a living breathing “character” with warmth and personality. Which do you think will most attract the next generation of students and alumni?


  • Integrate Digital Marketing and Segmentation: Even marketing companies that know nothing about higher education understand the importance of audience segmentation. But it’s not enough anymore to serve a potential IT student different ad sets than those you’d offer to that future teacher. You need to pinpoint potential applicants with the right messaging and then use several media to reach them along the full scope and path of their enrollment journey in ways that engage without alienating.


  • Prioritize Social Media: An active and relevant social media presence is no longer just an option for colleges and universities. The effective use of social media can lift your brand, enhance your reputation, and allow you to have direct conversations with current, former, and future students in a way that fosters long-term relationships and good will among all your stakeholders.


  • Optimize for Mobile: It feels disingenuous to call this a “trend” since it’s been on our radar for years and Google shifted to mobile first for rankings more than a year ago. On the other hand, it bears repeating. Your stakeholders are ALL on mobile. Whether they’re looking at your ads, coming directly to your website, or downloading an eBook or infographic you created, the process has to occur seamlessly from whatever device they’re using, through whatever channel they’re on.


If you want to get real results from your marketing endeavors, you don’t just need to consider the best marketing practices in the industry; you need to be sure they apply to your industry. Higher education is unique and important. Make sure your agency gets it. We do. Contact ESM Digital today to learn how to create a partnership that works for you. Our mission is to help you fulfill yours.


~Linda Emma