Yes, Your Higher Ed Marketing Agency Needs Developers

March 25th, 2022 by Shane Kretzmann

Key Insights

  • Higher education marketers need web developers that understand marketing and can think out of the box to solve problems
  • To optimize your higher education marketing strategy, you need visibility in each step of the funnel
  • With so many disconnected systems, you need a skilled development team to track the student journey and prove your marketing ROI

Yes your higher ed marketing agency needs developers

Your Higher Ed Marketing Agency and The Student Journey

It’s not enough to simply create and understand your marketing funnel in today’s world of digital advertising and marketing. You need to plan, track, and earn buy-in through each phase of the prospect’s student journey and react quickly to changes in the market.

An even bigger challenge is that the vast majority of higher ed CRM software is antiquated and lacks the ability to track prospects as they move through the funnel.

Whether in search, display advertising, or social media it’s critical that your CRM software can connect the dots.

With higher education CRMs so lacking, institutions have considerable gaps in their ability to effectively market degree programs to the right prospect at the right time. And it’s especially hard to react quickly to unforeseen changes to the education market.

This is why it’s so important to have a development team—either internal or at your higher ed marketing agency—that understands your unique website and the prospect’s student journey. Although some universities rely on their IT staff, this is usually not enough.

To ensure you support your prospect’s student journey, you need a skilled development team behind you that understands the technology and the higher ed marketing funnel. With a skilled development team, you can track your prospective students through the funnel, assuring they’re getting the content they need at every phase until they’re enrolled.

In this blog post, we will go over why it’s important to track students at every step in the recruitment journey. Your marketing team needs to understand where students get stuck. Then they can create content (case studies, blog posts, videos, and more) so you can optimize your strategy to move them through.

Inbound Marketing Strategy and Your In-house Dev Team

Right about now, you are probably thinking, “I’ve got that covered! We’ve got a brand strategy, we get lots of organic traffic, and at my university, I’ve got a built-in development team that manages our university website, including the pages for the program I’m responsible for.”

And to be fair, your developers are probably amazing at maintaining the university website and keeping your degree pages online and running smoothly.

But this is not about design and development. It’s about an effective higher education digital marketing strategy. To make your prospective student journey most effective, your development team should:

  • Understand higher education inbound marketing
  • Understand the marketing funnel
  • Know the details of your specifically defined marketing funnel
  • Have experience tracking prospects through the entire student journey
  • Have the skills to help you track the data that informs you if your online marketing efforts provide positive ROI and bring you prospects

In the Technology & Development department at Search Influence, we do this every day, and it’s exciting!

Headshot photos of the Search Influence technology and development team

Our development team specializes in marketing, implementing, and troubleshooting tracking and analytics. We also provide the information needed to ensure you invest your budget wisely.

We do the things you might typically associate with web development, such as content implementation, updating your website’s look, and adding functionality. As a higher ed marketing agency, we excel at thinking outside the box to get the results colleges and universities need.

With deep knowledge in tracking and analytics, we can do this in search engines, digital ads, or even [gasp] offline.

A Real-World Example: How Automating Your CRM Data Entry Can Help You Market Your Degree Program

Goal & Situation

One of our higher ed institution clients wanted to target prospects on Facebook (aka Meta), but their CRM had no integration options for social media outlets. This meant the data collected in Facebook wouldn’t seamlessly integrate with their CRM.

Their internal team would have to do a lot of manual data entry work to track the effectiveness of the Facebook campaign and to connect the data obtained to their university CRM software.

As you can imagine, this type of manual work is time-consuming, prone to errors, and frustrates everyone involved.

No built-in connection existed between Facebook and the university’s CRM but we knew we could figure out a way to automate this process and give time back to the university’s marketing team.

Search Influence’s Approach

At this point, many development teams would simply tell their clients that it would not be possible to automate this process. They are focused on your website, keeping it looking modern, and keeping that CRM running smoothly.

As a higher ed marketing agency, Search Influence has worked on many similar projects to connect data from one source to another. With this experience in mind, we gathered the facts and knew we could solve the problem.

First thing first, we had to determine if the CRM offered any sort of API that you could push data into. Without a way to push data in, this whole project would be dead in the water.

In this case, we confirmed that this CRM did, in fact, accept lead information via an API endpoint. But it could only receive the information in a very strict XML format.

Facebook provides a way to export lead data from Facebook Business Manager.

Screenshot of Facebook lead center

Unfortunately, it’s manual and the export is provided in CSV or XLS format. Plus, the data collected on Facebook differed from how the university CRM accepted it in their API.

For this project, we ended up using the integration tools available at Zapier.com.

We knew Zapier already had a connector to get data out of Ads Manager, and if you feed it a form id, it can listen for lead submissions. Once the lead is “zapped” into Zapier, we manipulated the data and remapped it to match the expected inputs the university CRM required via the XML API endpoint.

Once everything matched the university CRMs XML rules, we automatically sent the data. The Facebook lead data became instantly available to the university CRM.

Result

We eliminated manual copying and pasting from Facebook to the university CRM, and now the university uses the data collected from Facebook for other efforts.

We took advantage of their Facebook marketing efforts to set up email drip campaigns to ensure prospects coming from Facebook get the right information they need at the right point in the student journey.

This is the real benefit of working with an experienced higher ed marketing agency with equally experienced development staff. If there’s a solution, we’ll find it.

The Higher Ed Marketing Experts at Search Influence Can Help!

This is just one example of how out of the box thinking can help your educational institution’s marketing and communications get the data you need to be effective. If you don’t have confidence your current higher ed marketing agency has the technical chops to manage the challenging world of digital marketing, it’s time for an upgrade! Contact the Higher Education Marketing experts at Search Influence to help you meet your enrollment goals.