Education as a product has undergone phenomenal change over the past decade. MOOCs and accredited online courses over email and Skype are the order of the day. With the world being online every second, the only way to grab their attention is to market online.
Education providers of every format – schools, colleges (degree/diploma/higher education), tutorials, coaching classes need to establish their presence in the inbound marketing space which is sought by a potential customer. This form of marketing includes SEO, Blogging, Social Media, RSS Feeds, Free tools / trials and videos. Visit Best Marketing Automation Tool – Firecart
In order to drive a sustainable marketing campaign, it is important to cover the basics before starting out –
Online / Social / Digital marketing requires efficient planning, execution, follow-up and improvisation. So if you are not sure of how to go about it, hire help. At least initially till you know how it is done. Social Media / Community Managers, Content Creators, Social Evangelists are many avatars of professionals in the field.
Online Marketing Strategies for Educational Institutions
It is imperative to integrate the online marketing plan with the organization’s policies and ensure compliance in every regard. Every institute needs internal guidelines and adequate training with respect to the use of appropriate language and supporting materials (images and videos) in keeping with its brand.
Understand the audience you are aiming to reach out to. Students, alumni, parents, faculty. The mode of communication they are most keen on and most importantly the factors that influence their final choice.
Establish the objectives which you hope to achieve via the marketing campaign. FB likes and shares may not be enough. All the marketing efforts need to translate into increased admissions, referrals, positive student reviews online, better retention rates – year-on-year, increased participation in extra-curricular activities, widening awareness of the organization’s offerings, efficient and updated faculty prospects.
Once the above has been established you need to delve into the why and how of your campaign. Some detailed suggestions on how to approach this task –
Offer relevant information – Students who are looking to sign up for courses or classes often search online for details that indicate what the institute is like and are also influenced by reviews and past experiences of students from the institute. Thus it is important to activate this space online by offering a sneak peek into what the classes offer, accomplishments of the students and the institute, credentials of the faculty currently onboard. This space can also be used for current / past students and parents to give feedback on the classes and institute. It needs to be an open forum on social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter.
Connect with their kind – Very often people are not convinced about what they are reading since the source of the information is the organization itself. It is important to encourage student-to-student discussion. This can be done by initiating a customized message forum on Facebook or Twitter for prospective students to connect with other student groups who are currently enrolled or have passed out of the programs being sought by others.
Connect with Content – Initiating Social media interaction is the easiest thing to do. But to keep it going requires useful content in the form of videos, posts, status updates that entice people to participate in the discussion. What should the post, blog or tweet be about? This requires a bit of research into the minds, Facebook / Twitter pages and LinkedIn groups of students and other organizations operating in your space.
Mode of Connection – There is no dearth of options and ways in which to reach out to people with information. Choose your platform in the virtual world based on its visitors. Some options to consider apart from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube
Newsletter – A regular stream of emails with details of upcoming courses and other newsworthy developments that subscribers may want to read about.
Blog post – A post with an appropriate image on a dedicated blog space or even a certain section of your website will help stream relevant news and happenings related to your organization.
Ebook – A downloadable ebook with concise information that is otherwise scattered across many web pages. This helps students have a copy of this data offline too.
Podcast – A series of audio recordings that offer a glimpse of the kind of teaching that takes place at your institute, with academic topics being covered in a capsule. Interested students can subscribe to the same through iTunes or Soundcloud.
Infographics/White Papers/Case studies on academic topics that influence the student community and aid in understanding important concepts. These records go a long way in establishing the credibility of an organization and its flexibility in communication.
Track your Leads – Taking stock of what is working for your organization is required to be able to pursue options that add to your conversions. You need to identify the lead source i.e. Facebook friends/shares, Twitter followers, LinkedIn contacts, Blog/Newsletter/Podcast subscribers.
Lead indicators are as follows –
- Content downloads via email signups
- Landing pages with shares on social media sites
- Contact Form details – How they discovered your organization
- Referral traffic to your website from social media sites
- Newsletter/Blog subscriptions
As complex and diverse as these modern marketing techniques are, they are also relatively more exact and scientific than their traditional counterparts. Zero in on your organizational objectives, make a plan around it, track its performance and tweak suitably.