Digital Marketing in Higher Education: Importance, Benefits and Impact


Digital marketing has had a deep impact on not just higher education marketing but higher education as a whole. Most academic institutions worldwide are now using digital marketing technologies to not only connect and engage with their potential audience but also in teaching and learning. Their digital marketing campaigns are delivering consistent returns for them.

One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is the democratization of information which is personalized, targeted and quickly accessible on a scale that was unprecedented before. With digital marketing, you can interact with your audience directly. But with so many digital marketing tools to choose from, the challenge is to identify the suitable ones for your University. This often confuses marketing professionals. However, with the help of an ed-tech company, customized digital marketing solutions can be crafted to suit your academic needs.

Universities and Colleges globally have been using digital strategies to reach out to potential students since the dawn of the internet. However, the whole approach got revolutionized after the arrival of social media and smartphone technologies.

Modern students are less responsive to traditional marketing techniques. Instead, they expect to be engaged through digital media. In addition to reaching out to your target audience through social media, they can be touch-based by a host of digital platforms. In this regard, SEO and SEM activities acquire a lot of importance.

Today, your audience finds you on search engines and google is the most important website of the day. How to be among top search results is the key to marketing success today. How to optimize SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) activities is the biggest challenge in the field of higher education marketing. These initiatives are designed to engage students on a personal level, and carefully crafted content leverages your academic brand so that you have the most visibility in all the right areas.

The Importance of Digital Marketing in Higher Education and Why Digital Marketing Matters for Higher Education

Higher education is all about a community that is young, vibrant and is on a lookout for social interconnectedness. Social media channel, therefore, is an important extension of that community’s interest and preferences for engagement and interaction. Worldwide, educational institutes are using digital marketing strategies to touch-base with their stakeholders namely prospective students and their probable recruiters.

When it comes to direct audience, Educational Institutions have two different groups of audiences to cater – millennials and their parents. Besides, there are other target groups too as mentioned earlier. By following a suitable approach that relates to the needs of these exclusive groups and focusing your efforts in that direction can help you connect quickly with the audience you are trying to reach. When you focus on digital marketing and SEM strategies, you can easily connect and engage with both students and parents and coordinate your efforts with ease.

Digital marketing assumes strategic importance in higher education due to the following reasons. These points will also help you to understand the intrinsic benefits of this new media and appreciate its impact in the right spirit.

Digital Marketing helps in Connecting with Prospective Students

The most prominent reason why digital marketing has become an important tool of marketing landscape is its ability to connect with your target audience instantly. Millennials today are constantly hooked on to social media for gathering information. They have been brought up in an environment where digital familiarity is a must.

The use of mobile phones among the young generation is higher than any other age group. A lot of their time is spent online. They are in fact experiencing the entire spectrum of their life through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and many similar platforms to gather information and communicate among themselves.

All this is compelling academic entities to be present on the media where their audience is.  Marketing campaign targeted at prospective applicants needs to be highlighted on social media to achieve the desired results. So, if your University is not investing in digital marketing that talks directly to your target audience then your message may not get the visibility it requires to get noticed by this important group.

The youth of the day loves to browse social media to not only connect with each other but also to and surf for their favourite brands, online shows, reviews and any other information that is of interest to them. As such, if you are not maintaining a vibrant and visible presence on social platforms can leave you unnoticed in a market which is already overcrowded with similar players who are constantly waiting to grab your share of the market.

In fact, in the present scenario, it would be a great idea to start engaging your audience much before they actually become eligible for your College. Efforts should be made to develop campaigns that are targeted to engage prospects right from their school days. This early engagement will help you to generate adequate brand awareness among your wannabe students and will effectively position your academic brand in that group long before it is time for them to prepare for a college education.

Influencing the Influencer: Digital Marketing also helps in Connecting with Parents

Millennials may get all the attention when it comes to online usage and social media activities but their parents are also not far behind. The parent community is also quickly adapting to the growing importance of digital technologies such as smartphones and the internet.  Most parents nowadays use smartphones and mobile apps or access the internet to manage and organize their day to day working.

The active presence of parents online means that higher education institutions have to step up their communication on digital media to connect with this focused group of audience. And all this at no extra effort and cost. The same campaign can be shown to both prospects and their parents may be with just a little tweak. The messaging should be right and the approach appropriate.

Parents are generally concerned about the overall quality of your University, its prestige and reputation. Cost is, of course, an influencing factor in selecting or rejecting a college but there are other parameters too which influence their decision-making process. Once you understand this distinction, developing the right campaigns will not be difficult for your marketing team.

You can engage with this community online and share information that covers their key concerns so that when it is time to guide their child for making a judicious career choice, you’ll already have a relationship of trust in place.

When parents are searching on opportunities to mobilize funds for their ward’s fee, you can use digital marketing platforms to target ads that can provide them with some tips on savings or the right investment planning for their child’s future. Correctly targeting your digital marketing efforts to parents can help you make a valuable connection ensuring that they know where to look for when the time comes.

Why Should Digital Marketing Matter for Universities

Since both your target audiences – parents and students, are constantly hooked on to the virtual world – so you need to be visible in a space where your prospects are. Make sure you are serving them with the right content and campaigns that suit their choices.

Your Competitors are Watching You

If you are not available on social space and forging connections with your target audience, someone else will. Geography doesn’t matter. Your competitor can come from any direction, any location. Unless you have a plan to counter competition it will be very difficult to tap your market potential.

Thousands of searches are happening daily on Google. Someone somewhere is waiting to grab your share of students either through Facebook or google ads.

Millennials expect you to be available round-the-clock. This is only possible if you are connected online.

Your target students aren’t just online during business hours – they live across the nation and around the world and use smartphones to access the Internet throughout the day and night. So, when you invest in digital marketing, you are better positioned to make an impact and be available for your students whenever they require. Through digital marketing you can also reach out to international students without extra spending and need not worry about issues related to different time zones.

Most students use the Internet as part of their higher education decision-making process. You may not be able to engage with these busy prospects every hour of every day, but your content, campaigns and social media posts can.

Digital Marketing helps People Locate You: Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization is a boon for Higher Education

It is well known how youngsters use the internet to find college information. Therefore search engine marketing becomes critical and googles the most important website. Your content, search engine optimization and your social media presence will help position your educational enterprise where it can easily be found by prospective students and their parents.

Roughly 90% of users search for information on Google or another search engine. Your optimized content ensures that when a user searches for particular information, your academic brand is the very first relevant result that they see. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures users are able to find your brand organically. So, your marketing team should work towards optimizing your website and making it SEO friendly so that your prospects can find.

This would require targeting the right keywords, using right meta tags, removal of duplicate content, making your website mobile compatible etc. Regularly review google analytics to measure the performance of your website.

The above steps will help you optimize your website and boost its visibility.

Digital Marketing helps generate Engagement with Prospective Students Using the Right Content

In addition to SEO activities, creating compelling content that is also SEO compatible will help drive the right results for your College. Finding you is important but how well your target audience engages with your brand once they have located you are more important. Hence prioritizing the quality of your content should be given utmost important by your marketing team.

When users get useful content not only just about academics but also about campus life, learning beyond teaching etc. they are most likely to stick around. Starting a blog series for them will not only help optimize your site for search engines, but it will also attract and engage prospective students with your University. Blogs can help to build the trust factor with your prospects and keep you at the top of their mind when it comes time to making a career choice for themselves.

Including well-rounded content ensures you have a rich website full with engaging information that appeals to a wide variety of students and their parents.

Social Media Marketing Helps to establish Trust Factor with your Target Audience

Social media has revolutionized the field of higher education marketing. With both parents and students actively present on social platforms makes it easy for education marketers to engage them.

While social media is an ideal way to generate leads, it is also a useful medium for institutional brand building. It also helps in building a community for your brand.

Making the effort to engage your audience on multiple social platforms and maintaining a consistent presence can go a long way toward forging valuable connections with them that will help drive conversions.

By making continuous efforts to engage students and parents via digital marketing can ensure a steady flow of business. It will ultimately help you see tangible results in your favour.

For further reading:-

Vishwakarma University, Pune: Capitalising The Multi-Channel Digital Marketing

Watch Out For The Digital Marketing Priorities For Higher Education In 2019

Emerging Trends In Digital Marketing And EduTech For Institutions In 2019