Online marketing for educational institutions has become a necessity. If you don’t have a strong online presence, prospective students won’t be able to find you in their online research. Fortunately, it’s never too late to get your college or trade school online. With the right internet marketing company, you can create campaigns that are effective at reaching your goals, such as boosting enrollment, increasing brand awareness or raising alumni donations.
Let’s discuss the importance of digital marketing and why it should be a top priority for your higher institution.
It’s important to define your personas, otherwise your messaging will be too generic and appeal to no one. Consider what types of students are best for your program. Are they interested in arts or science? Are they first year students or returning students? Will they need flexible courses or will they live on campus?
Here are some of the things to discover about your personas:
Achieve visibility in the search engine results pages
When a prospect searches for a program related to yours, it’s your school that you want them to find. With a responsive website and good SEO, you can drive organic traffic to your site.
A digital marketing agency will research what keywords you should be using in your marketing materials. You should use a mix of high-volume target keywords as well as long-tail keywords that are unique to your school.
In addition, be sure that all content placed on your website is SEO friendly. This means keeping paragraphs short, using headings and subheadings to break up blocks of text, using lists or bullet points for main ideas and including a CTA at the end. Content that is useful and enjoyable to read impresses visitors and Google for better rankings.
Greet visitors with a well-designed website
Many students never set foot on a college campus until their first day of school. They make decisions based on college websites. It’s imperative that your homepage is well-designed and invites students to learn about your school. Your website should also include a mix of valuable content, such as videos, blog posts, images, infographics, program guides and more.
It helps to partner with an internet marketing firm that works with higher institutions because your website will need SEO to drive in the right students. By including the right keywords in your content, students who are looking for your programs will find you. Each school is unique, but many organize their programs using separate tabs. This way, students can click on the program they are interested in and find relevant content.
Highlight your college’s strengths
Declining enrollments have been a main concern for colleges and trade schools. According to this article in The Hechinger Report, college enrollment is expected to decline by 15% after the year 2025. No wonder why colleges are vying for attention!
Today’s students go online to search for education and job opportunities, so it’s important that your school has a presence and is able to share a consistent message. By writing blog posts, updating your social media accounts, showing display ads, etc., you can showcase your school’s strengths and what students have to gain by choosing your program.
Control your brand image
People are quick to talk about brands online, and this can quickly shape people’s opinions. If you’re not there to engage in conversation, you lose control of your brand image. This could very quickly lead to misinformation about your institution’s programs and campus environment.
When you’re actively engaged online and utilizing social monitoring tools, you can keep on top of what people are saying about your school. You don’t have to let other people talk for you. YOU can do the talking and ensure that all information about your programs, instructors, students and campus is accurate. And, if there is feedback that needs to be addressed, you can get in front of these issues before they spiral out of control.
Be where prospective students are
Years ago when students wanted to research schools, they would head to the library and dig through various books and magazines. Today, students use the internet. They usually start by searching for schools that offer the degrees programs they are interested in, such as “nursing program” or “engineering degree.” Once they find schools that look interesting, students often follow them on social media to get a better feel for the campus environment.
A lot of conversation happens on social media, so it’s important that you are there to update your page, respond to questions and facilitate engagement. If a prospect visits your page and your last post was from 2016, they may choose not to follow you or apply at your college. So, keep your profiles active and show your audience that you are listening.
Improve your email campaigns
If you have your target audience defined, you can easily send out segmented emails. Only send emails to prospects who have agreed to receive communications from you, otherwise they could be marked as spam. You can collect email addresses through program-specific landing pages.
Email is incredibly cost-effective and has a high return on investment. You can use emails to nurture prospects through the funnel and be there to provide relevant content to aid in their research. Be sure to follow good email marketing practices, such as:
Get quick visibility
Pay per click advertising is a great way to get your school noticed and drive an immediate response. You can use PPC when you want to increase attendance at a particular event, such as a college fair, or you are promoting specific educational programs. You have to pay if someone clicks on your ad. But, even if your ad is not clicked on, you still get visibility.
Advertisers must take into consideration bidding on keywords and audience types, so it helps to work with an experienced digital marketing agency. This will help you get the most from your campaigns while ensuring that all ads are targeted to your specific degrees and programs. PPC is best used alongside SEO, as it will run through your budget if used exclusively.
Believe it or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg! Digital marketing is an essential ingredient to your school’s online success. To remain competitive and ensure that you are bringing in enough enrollment to keep your school growing each year, it’s important that you are building your brand online.
To learn more about how to boost your educational institution’s presence online, contact the experts at WSI Net Advantage. We’ve helped many schools climb to the top of the search results – is yours next?
Kevin Dean, President of WSI Net Advantage...
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