At OHO’s second annual Higher Education Digital Marketing Bootcamp, six junior and senior high school students joined us on a panel to discuss their college search experiences. They shared their entire search process — from start to finish — and offered invaluable insights on how colleges and universities can improve the website experience for prospective students.
What's new, what's next, what's best, and how it all fits in to a successful digital marketing strategy… Get inside our head with these helpful resources—from blog posts to best practices guides—written by our team of experts.
What’s considered a “success” in social media?
Is it the number of likes a post gets? The ratio of retweets to impressions? The overall quality of the discussion? A net increase in followers over time?
Yes to all of those, but it's more than just tangible data points, as was discussed during OHO’s 2019 Higher Education Digital Marketing Bootcamp.
In 2018, OHO Interactive held the first Higher Education Digital Marketing Bootcamp to help higher ed professionals understand how other colleges and universities structure their marketing departments, prioritize projects, and set budgets. OHO also took note that in their survey, The State of Higher Education Web Teams, communications departments at both large and small colleges and universities wanted to build digital marketing skills in-house.
Content strategy succeeds best not as an individual crusade, but as a group effort across your organization. But in higher education, the kind of culture change that content strategy often calls for can be hard to come by.
There are a few ways these challenges may present themselves within a college or university. We’ve broken those challenges down here, paired with clarifying GIFs — plus a few strategies for overcoming them.
Building digital marketing capacity in-house is the top skill college and university web teams want according to The State of Higher Education Web Teams survey and the top request we hear from our client partners.
The cornerstone of a marketer’s job isn’t coming up with the best tagline, designing the best landing page, or crafting the best tweet — it’s planning.
As marketers, the best thing we can do for our divisions and our organizations is plan.
“What scares me the most? The 80 ‘stealth admits’ that could either make or break our year.”
A university president recently confessed this fear to me highlighting the challenge stealth prospects pose for college and university enrollment teams.
When we approach web projects, content strategy is always a part of the conversation. You can’t have a successful website redesign or other major digital initiative unless you are accounting for the content in some meaningful way. Taking a content-first approach ensures that the end product succeeds in both communicating and motivating effectively.
“Thanks to mobile, micro-moments can happen anytime, anywhere. In those moments, consumers expect brands to address their needs with real-time relevance.” Google challenges digital marketers to identify these moments for their unique mobile visitors and ensure that these consumers can achieve both their goals and yours.
Colleges and universities have so much to share, from groundbreaking research to breaking ground on a much-awaited student center. But how, where, and why we share these nuggets with our audiences can vary. “News” and “stories” may sound interchangeable to some, but when it comes to web content, there are some key differences.
A simple way to think about it is this:
- Stories are about a person, the heart of who they are
- News is about what a person did recently
“We should put our social media accounts on our website!”
That phrase — or some version of it — has been uttered by someone at nearly every college or university at one point or another. But is it always the right move?
At face value, it seems like a great idea. If you’re spending the time and effort to maintain a robust social media presence, why wouldn’t you want to feature that content on your site? When you dig a little deeper, however, there’s a lot to consider.
Website calendars pose one of the great challenges of higher education content management — there are a million options, every school needs one, but each school’s needs vary slightly, and nobody wants to own it. Who knows, if your college or university is like many others, a wide array of calendar tools may already be in place across your institution.
With over 85% of prospective students ranking the website as the top research tool during a school search, a critical part of any website project is connecting prospects with admissions counselors — by means of request information forms, campus visit forms, and admission microsites.
No matter how hard you try, at some point your website users are going to attempt to access pages on your site that no longer exist — or never existed in the first place. Maybe they bookmarked a page you’ve since removed or simply made a typo when entering a URL directly. Regardless of how the mistake was made, your site now has to decide what to do with this lost user – and get them to a relevant spot on your website..
Enter the humble 404 page.
If you’ve developed a branding platform, whether it was done internally or with a vendor partner, congratulations. You’re ahead of the game by virtue of having defined the DNA of your institutional identity, distinguishing it from peers and competitors alike.
So…now what? As it concerns digital marketing and web content strategy in particular, a branding platform is a tremendous step toward meaningful differentiation, but it does not enable well-intentioned communicators to get rolling right out of the box.
First-generation college students are a critical demographic in the U.S. higher education landscape, comprising 34% of undergraduates in the 2011-12 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Stakeholders are the people or groups that have a vested interest in the success (or failure) of a project. Typically, a higher education website project is led by the marketing group. With increasing pressure on enrollment, most college or university website redesign projects are focused on reaching prospective students, making the key stakeholders for a website project the admissions groups — undergraduate, graduate, online, and continuing education.
Other stakeholders for higher education website projects typically include:
At the start of each year, we review website analytics data from a variety of colleges and universities to paint a broad picture of higher education website traffic trends. The data we reviewed spans from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 and includes graduate programs, law schools, liberal arts colleges, universities, and adult programs. Whenever possible, we exclude internal traffic data to ensure the insights accurately convey the behaviors of prospective students, alumni, parents, and any other external visitors.
I’ve worked with higher ed for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of wonderful things. But few things are more wonderful than a thoughtfully conceived strategic plan.
Sound dull? Hear me out.
An institution’s strategic plan is a roadmap to fulfill its ambition. Ideally, a strategic plan defines a vision for the future of the institution, then lays out highly specific, realistic, and measurable goals aligned to that vision — and a timeframe in which to achieve them.
Now if that’s not the definition of beauty, I don’t know what is.
As we dive into a new year, we recognize that higher ed marketers face huge challenges as well as huge opportunities to expand the reach of their brands and drive enrollment. But the wisest marketers know how to prioritize, influence, and advocate for marketing, based on where they see the opportunity to create the most value for their universities.
As we plan for 2019, here are the digital marketing priorities for leaders in higher education digital marketing and CMOs this year.