At Search Influence we spend a lot of time thinking about higher education marketing.

We have practical experience from our work with clients who are higher education institutions, and through partners who provide tools for higher education marketers.

And, we have data. As an UPCEA platinum partner we have sponsored research on both SEO for higher education and Cost Per Inquiry in higher education (CPI.)

We have an internal curriculum for our team on higher education marketing best practices. 

And to top it off, our analytics team has expertly married both web analytics and higher education CRM data (Slate, Salesforce.) So we don’t just say it, we can prove it.

As an organization, we are “all in” on higher education marketing at Search Influence.

What follows are articles and web pages on the search influence website that talk about higher education marketing.

Table of Contents

Higher Education Digital Marketing Agency Search Influence

We created this page as an overview and portfolio for how Search Influence, as a higher education digital marketing agency, connects institutions with their target audience with measurable results through data-driven strategies.

It highlights services like SEO for higher education and digital advertising for higher education.

Higher Education Digital Marketing – Your Key to Growth In 2024

Search Influence Cofounder, Will Scott, discusses proven strategies to attract and engage prospective students. Scott emphasizes the importance of a student-centric approach, utilizing a variety of digital marketing tools, and continuously measuring and optimizing efforts for maximum ROI.

Video: Higher Education Digital Marketing – Your Key to Growth In 2024

10 Winning Higher Education Marketing Strategies

Using AI, Will wrote this article as a roundup of other articles on the internet. In it he outlines the best marketing strategies for universities, including social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, and email marketing.

Scott emphasizes the shift from traditional mass marketing methods to more personalized strategies that resonate with modern students.

An interesting aside is the article was greatly aided by AI. The summaries of the top ranking articles and even their analysis were done with ChatGPT.

Higher Ed Marketing Metrics – Search Influence at the 2024 Annual UPCEA Conference

Search Influence has the opportunity, with our clients, to present at the UPCEA conferences. In this case, we partnered with our colleagues at EAB to show the benefits of our approach.

Our part of the presentation made use of our recent Higher Education Marketing Benchmarks to demonstrate strategies to maximize digital advertising budget.

What is Cost Per Inquiry (CPI) in Higher Ed Marketing?

In this post we look at the importance of the cost per inquiry (CPI) metric in higher education marketing and discuss the project that led to the CPI study with UPCEA. That study is the first to ever attempt to establish a reliable industry benchmark for CPI.

Since our inception, Search Influence has been fanatical about tracking inquiries, their source, and their cost.

I (Will Scott) often reference the famous John Wanamaker quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted – if only I knew which half.”

From UPCEA: UPCEA and Search Influence Higher Ed Marketing Metrics Research Report: What Gets Measured Gets Managed

One of the best benefits of being part of an industry association is the ability to ask questions of the members that can help inform decision making.

This report highlights the critical need for higher education institutions to adapt to demographic and economic changes by reassessing their strategies. It emphasizes the importance of using real-time metrics and dashboards to make informed decisions, focusing on key metrics like cost per inquiry (CPI) and the types of marketing being utilized.

There were some pretty shocking stats about tracking leads (not enough are doing it well,) and satisfaction (or lack thereof) with marketing.

SEO for Higher Education Institutions: Invest Now Or Pay Later

This blog post, by Paula French, Search Influence Director of Sales and Marketing, emphasizes the critical importance of SEO for higher education institutions. It highlights that 51% of universities do not have a well-defined SEO plan, which is a significant missed opportunity for increasing visibility and engagement.

The article argues that SEO is foundational for digital marketing and should not be sidelined or delayed, especially given the increasing competition among institutions to connect effectively with prospective students.

SEO & Paid Search in Higher Ed: Are Our Search Marketing Priorities Right?

Published on July 6, 2023, this article written by Search Influence Director of Account Management, Alison Zeringue on the UPCEA blog explores the current state of search marketing in higher education, focusing on the balance between paid search and SEO.

It reveals that while 91% of higher education marketers use paid search, many neglect SEO, which is crucial for reaching prospective students at all stages of the marketing funnel.

The article emphasizes the importance of a full-funnel approach in SEO to nurture leads effectively and convert them into enrolled students. 

Beyond the Hype: Is Geofencing the Right Strategy for Your Brand?

By Jenna Movahed, Search Influence Online Ads Analyst, this article examines the effectiveness of geofencing as a marketing strategy for brands, particularly in the context of higher education.

It discusses the potential benefits and limitations of using geofencing to target specific geographic areas and attract prospective students.

The article evaluates whether the investment in geofencing technology provides a significant return on investment and how it compares to other digital marketing strategies.

How to Use Quantitative Data in Your Higher Ed Marketing and Recruitment

This blog post addresses the key data challenges in higher education digital marketing and offers insights on how to use quantitative data to support marketing strategies effectively.

Skimmers, Swimmers, and Divers: Content Strategy for Higher Education Websites

This article provides strategies for creating web content that accommodates all types of visitors to higher education websites, aiming to improve user experience and drive conversions.

How to Target Adult Learners and Non-Traditional Students With Digital Advertising – Prospective Students

This post offers insights on targeting adult learners and non-traditional students with digital advertising, including campaign structure tips and platform selection advice.

Grow Traffic to Your Higher Ed Content With a Personalized Marketing Strategy – Marketing Strategy

This article discusses the benefits of using a personalized marketing strategy in higher education to engage prospective students and increase traffic to content.

Create a Student-Centric Journey with the Marketing Funnel

This post outlines how to create a student-centric marketing plan using the marketing funnel, with strategies tailored to different stages of the prospective student’s journey.

Gen Z is the Next Non Traditional Student: Move Them Down the Funnel with These 2 Tactics

This blog post focuses on marketing strategies for engaging Gen Z, the next generation of non-traditional students, through the funnel with tactics like Facebook/Instagram Lead Generation Ads and Email Nurture campaigns.

How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Marketing Goals

A guide on how to write S.M.A.R.T marketing goals for businesses, with a focus on making goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Stairway to Higher Ed Website Heaven: Seven Steps to Engage Prospects and Students

This resource was created for a presentation at the UPCEA conference by Paula French and Alicia Jasmin of Tulane University. The presentation included a self-assessment to score marketing strategies and uncover opportunities to drive leads into and down the funnel.

Higher Education Marketing Case Studies:

  • PAU Higher Ed Marketing Case Study – Lead Gen
    A case study detailing how Search Influence helped Palo Alto University surpass their monthly inquiry goal by 49% through targeted higher education marketing and lead generation strategies.
  • Tulane SoPA Higher Ed Marketing Case Study – OPM Microsite Migration SEO
    A case study showcasing how Search Influence successfully migrated the Tulane School of Professional Advancement’s Information Technology and Cybersecurity program microsite to the main website. This strategic SEO-first approach resulted in a 456% increase in site visits through blog posts and a 90% increase in organic traffic, significantly enhancing the school’s online presence and lead generation capabilities.
  • Tulane SoPA Higher Ed Marketing Case Study – Blog Strategy SEO
    This case study details how Search Influence revamped Tulane School of Professional Advancement’s blog strategy, increasing the frequency of blog posts to better nurture prospective students throughout their application journey. The enhanced strategy led to a 569% increase in keywords ranking in the top 1-3 spots on Google, significantly boosting the school’s visibility and prospective student engagement.
  • Tulane SoPA Higher Ed Marketing Case Study – Lead Gen
    A case study describing how Search Influence implemented targeted digital marketing strategies to help Tulane School of Professional Advancement achieve its goal of reaching 500 inquiries per month. The strategies focused on optimizing lead generation processes and enhancing online engagement with prospective students.

Higher Education Marketing

What is Higher Education Marketing and Why is it Important?

Higher education marketing utilizes targeted strategies to attract prospective students, promote academic programs, and build a strong brand in a competitive market. It encompasses activities like digital advertising, content creation, social media engagement, and personalized communication.

The Importance of Effective Marketing

Effective marketing allows universities to:

  • Differentiate Themselves: Clearly communicate unique values, programs, and campus experiences.
  • Target Digital Natives: Adapt marketing approaches to reach students in preferred online spaces.
  • Optimize Resources: Leverage data to understand student behavior and craft targeted campaigns.

Reaching Your Target Audience

  • Prospective Students: Showcase academic excellence, career outcomes, campus life, and influence decision-making.
  • Parents: Provide information about financial aid, career services, and long-term educational benefits.
  • Alumni: Engage through events, newsletters, and fundraising to build a strong community and increase prestige.
  • International Students: Offer tailored strategies addressing visa assistance, language support, and cultural aspects of studying abroad.

Digital Marketing Strategies for Higher Education

  • Content Marketing: Create valuable content (blogs, videos, podcasts) to establish thought leadership, build trust, and influence enrollment decisions.
  • Online Advertising: Utilize platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. to target specific demographics with compelling ads, optimized landing pages, and continuously tested campaigns.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Improve online visibility by optimizing website content for search engines, attracting more students through organic search.
  • Email Marketing: Segment email lists and send personalized communications to nurture leads. This includes building robust email lists, audience segmentation, and crafting engaging content.

By understanding and addressing the needs of diverse audiences, institutions can effectively navigate the competitive landscape, attract and retain students, and ultimately enhance their reputation and educational impact.

Standing Out: Innovative Techniques in Higher Education Marketing

Forget generic brochures and impersonal emails. Today’s higher education marketing demands fresh approaches to captivate prospective students. Here are some innovative techniques that are redefining the game:

  • Leveraging the Power of Influence: Micro-influencers, social media stars with dedicated followings, are becoming key players. Their authenticity resonates with students, making them ideal brand advocates. By partnering with both influencers and micro-influencers, institutions can amplify their reach, build trust, and attract a new generation of learners.

  • Virtual Campuses: A World of Opportunity: Forget travel limitations! Virtual tours and immersive experiences are revolutionizing campus exploration. These tools allow prospective students, especially those from afar, to get a taste of campus life, facilities, and academic culture – all from the comfort of their homes. Strategic promotion across digital platforms ensures easy access and a comprehensive view of the institution’s offerings.

  • Data-Driven Decisions, Maximum Impact: Marketing success hinges on understanding your audience. Data analysis across various touchpoints unveils student preferences, behaviors, and trends. This empowers institutions to tailor marketing efforts with laser focus, crafting personalized communications and campaigns. The result? Increased engagement, higher return on investment, and attracting students who are the perfect fit.

Branding and positioning

Craft a Winning Strategy

  • Brand Identity: Develop a distinct voice that resonates with your audience and conveys your unique value proposition.
  • Storytelling: Showcase your culture and impact through compelling narratives featuring successful alumni and students.

Innovative Techniques

  • Influencer Marketing: Partner with relevant influencers to amplify reach, build trust, and attract new generations of learners.
  • Virtual Campuses: Offer immersive virtual tours and experiences to showcase campus life and facilities for students who can’t visit in person.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Analyze student behavior to personalize communications and campaigns, maximizing engagement and ROI.

Challenges and Solutions

  • Embrace New Technologies: Stay competitive by adopting cutting-edge digital tools like AR/VR for enhanced virtual tours and learning experiences.
  • Optimize Budget and ROI: Allocate resources wisely and measure campaign success to ensure financial sustainability.

Future of Higher Education Marketing

  • AI and Advanced Analytics: Leverage these technologies to gain deeper student insights and personalize marketing strategies further.
  • Stay Informed: Proactively adapt your practices to emerging trends to attract future student generations.
  • Data Privacy: Comply with regulations like GDPR to build trust and maintain legal compliance.
  • International Marketing: Understand and adhere to local privacy regulations in your target markets.

Tools and Resources

  • Marketing Toolkit: Utilize CRM systems, analytics software, and content management systems to streamline operations.
  • Professional Development: Invest in workshops, certifications, and conferences to stay ahead of the curve.

By implementing these focused strategies, you can craft a dynamic higher education marketing plan for long-term success.

More Higher Education Marketing Concepts Mentioned

Higher Education Marketing in the Digital Age

  • Strategy & Planning: higher education marketing plan, marketing strategy, marketing team, goals, performance indicator, return on investment, competitive landscape, latest trends, stay ahead, higher education marketing, higher education industry, higher ed marketing, digital age, fierce competition, inconsistent messaging, most schools, many universities, colleges
  • Content & Communication: content marketing, digital content, blog, podcast, video content, short form video, social media, email, newsletter, landing pages, personalization, storytelling, message, communication, consistent messaging, short form platforms (TikTok, Snapchat etc.), short videos, landing page, content marketing, digital content, personalize communications, storytelling, optimize content, social media marketing
  • Student Acquisition: student recruitment, prospective students, new students, student journey, college search, higher education marketing strategies, higher education marketing, marketing in schools, pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), university marketing, higher education institution, brand awareness, successful alumni, campus life, school unique, best advocates, future students, potential students, gen z students, digital natives, new audiences, new prospects, student recruitment, college search
  • Website & Online Presence: website, landing pages, program pages, A/B testing, conversion rates, user experience (UX), design, optimization, data, analytics, HTTP cookies, privacy policy, marketing efforts, marketing team, other departments, data, analytics, A/B testing
  • Social Media & Community Building: social media marketing, social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, hashtags, social sharing, community building, alumni, current students, brand awareness
  • Other Channels & Resources: guerrilla marketing, traditional marketing methods, physical tools (collateral, brochures), research, news, ebooks, resources, faculty expertise, campus visits, drive traffic, conversion rates, digital technology, personalized communications, major focus, build brand awareness, taking advantage, things digital, fine tune