As Universities are faced with more competition than ever before, having a robust digital presence is a necessity to attract new prospective students. Marketers are finding that in order to capitalize on today’s generation of students, they need to create a system of online marketing strategies working in conjunction towards engaging their students.
Studies today have found that Gen Z spends, on average, over 10 hours a day consuming online media. This trend allows countless opportunities for universities to engage prospective students on multiple channels, including: social media, websites, search engines, videos, and more. Choosing a school is a big decision; one that likely won’t be made over time. Marketing on a digital landscape allows you multiple touch points to impress and attract a student.
Digital Marketing Services for Universities
At Optimum7, we’ve helped internationally acclaimed universities grow their online presence using a proven system of cutting edge strategies and technologies.
We provide a number of services including:
- Web Design
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising
- Software Development and Custom Programming
Top 3 Digital Marketing Strategies for Higher Education
1. Web Design
Your website is the face of your business and often the first place students go to when they have already discovered your school and want to learn more. Your website needs to be informative, engaging, and easy to navigate.
If you don’t capture their attention within the first 5 seconds, students are going to leave your site in favor of one that is clean, organized, and engaging. Studies have shown that 95% of a user’s first impression is related to the design of a webpage. If your content isn’t presented in a way that is clean and organized, the chance of an online visitor leaving your page increases tremendously.
…of people said web design was the most important factor in deciding a business’s credibility.
Studies have found that 52.4% of all web traffic is done so through mobile devices. This percentage increases more so when you consider most college applicants are between 17-24 years old.
So what makes a good mobile site?
According to Google, “Mobile-users are very goal-oriented. They expect to be able to get what they need, immediately, and on their own terms.” This means sites need to be easily navigated, text needs to be large enough to read, and calls to action should be easily clickable. Not only does this effect mobile user experience, but Google takes these factors into account when determining search results ranking.
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are the two most important factors when building a website. UX refers to more technical elements of your website such as custom functionalities and search filters whereas UI addresses more of the visual design and layout of the site. Both are absolutely essential to web design and cannot function without the other.
UI/UX Optimization increases user satisfaction when visiting your site and increases the odds that a visitor will become a customer. We identify where your audience is dropping off your website and make changes to your design that enriches their experience.
…of web experiences begin with a Search Engine.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. When students search keywords related to your most well-known programs, Law, for example, you want your university to appear in the organic search results, especially on page one of Google SERP (search engine results page).
Why you might ask? Well, ask yourself – how often do you go beyond the first page of Google? This is where the majority of website traffic comes from and the less specific the search terms are, the harder it is to compete.
True growth from your Internet Marketing Strategy is a process born of consistency, tracking, and applied expertise from the likes of those at Optimum7 who keep on top of the ever-changing changes made to Google and various online platforms.
Local SEO is a series of onsite and offsite search engine optimizations performed in order to target students in your area. Through Local SEO, you can target graduating high school seniors in your area, or people searching for programs within your city or state. Local SEO targets keywords such as “Arts Colleges in Baltimore” or “Best Communication Programs in Miami”.
Local SEO is also a favorable options for educational institutions who are looking for more cost-effective approaches to SEO. Generally speaking, local terms are much less competitive and, therefore, require less of an initial investment to begin seeing a positive ROI.
Technical SEO refers to website and server optimizations that help search engine spiders crawl and index your site more effectively (to help improve organic rankings). Factors like SSL certificates, improving site speed, and addressing issues like 404 errors with 301 redirects all fall under the umbrella of technical SEO.
SEO is a complex strategy that demands consistent, hands-on labor and years of technical experience to execute properly. Because of this, many businesses (outside of enterprise level retailers) choose to outsource their SEO efforts.
Average Increase in Website Traffic
Average Increase in Conversion Rates
Monthly Total Leads Generated
We become an indispensable resource for our clients to drive traffic and leads.
What is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Content marketing has emerged as one of the most popular and profitable forms of marketing in the past decade. The truth is, today’s consumer is bombarded with more ads than ever before. As a result, consumers have become more sophisticated and are able to filter out ads that are trying to sell to them right off the bat.
If a brand, business, or university wants to engage an audience, they must provide the consumer with something of value. This content comes in many forms including: video, answering frequently asked questions, how-to’s, guides, checklists, etc.
By providing your audience with high-quality content that is relevant, you are effectively accomplishing two things:
- You are creating a relationship with your audience that lasts beyond the purchase. This allows you to engage users when they aren’t on your site and increases the chance that this customer will return in the future.
- You are positioning yourself as an expert on your subject. Information builds trust. By answering your audience’s questions and providing them with good content, you are building authority and credibility.
In addition to being a tool to engage your audience, content marketing can improve your search engine rankings when done with SEO in mind. Blog posts, one of the most common forms of content marketing, allow you to regularly publish high-quality, text-heavy content (which Google loves). Content like videos increase the time your audience spends on your website, which Google also factors into its rankings.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a form on online marketing in which advertisers pay a host site, such as Google or Facebook, a fee every time their ad is clicked on. PPC advertising can be difficult to perform profitably because of the high cost-per-click higher education institutions have to pay in order to display their ads. Because a single can mean tens of thousands of dollars for a university, competition for these terms is high and can cost $40, $50 just for a single click. In the end, you have to narrow your bidding strategy to search terms that are specific enough that CPC will be reasonable, but still will generate a profit.
Creating and managing a PPC is more labor intensive than many businesses think. Between performing keyword research, choosing the right bid strategy, creating proper campaign structure, performing A/B testing, and optimizing Ad Copy, businesses often find themselves overwhelmed.
Even if you do create a PPC ad that performs well, those clicks are worthless without a proper lead management and nurturing system. If your ad leads to an irrelevant webpage or you don’t have a proper drip marketing campaign to put emails you’ve gathered, you’ve essentially thrown your money out the window.
…of all clicks go to the top 3 Paid Search Results.
Google Ads, formerly known as Adwords, are the paid search results you see at the top of a search engine results page. Like most PPC campaigns, Google Ads are set up by making an ad, researching keywords, establishing a budget and bidding structure, forming a target audience, and experimenting with different variables once the ad is up and running.
Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Many educational institutions choose to run Google ads because of the high-exposure they offer and the enticement of having your site show up on the first page of search results right away. However, there are a few drawbacks of Google Ads for universities and other higher-education institutions. For one, Google has one of the highest cost-per-click fees of any advertising platform. Furthermore, unlike SEO which can offer value for months and years beyond your initial investment, once PPC ads run out of their budget, the ad stops displaying. However, when done effectively, the cost-per-click will be negated by the value a tuition-paying student brings in.
Facebook is the third most visited site globally and one of the most popular channels to run a PPC ad. The true value of Facebook Ads lies in their ability to micro-target your audience. Facebook collects an enormous amount of data about each of their users, including their likes, age, location, religion, even life events such as graduating high school or having a baby. For advertisers, this means highly specific target audiences can be made when compared to more traditional forms of advertising.
Facebook advertising does have its drawbacks. For one thing, Facebook ads are more intrusive than SEO or Google Ads. As previously mentioned, today’s consumer is subjected to hundreds of ads a day. As a result, marketers have seen their ads don’t hold the same impact as they once did. If you do choose to run a Facebook ad, try creating value for the your audience rather than trying to sell directly. In addition, Facebook advertisers are seeing rising costs-per-click and less options for audience targeting as rules and regulations become more stringent.