Watch Out for the Digital Marketing Priorities for Higher Education in 2019


Marketing has always played a pivotal role in education sector. For long newspaper ads and other traditional modes of marketing have dominated the promotion scene. But with the advent of technology, the evolving role of digital marketing in the education industry cannot be ignored.

While traditional modes of marketing were one-way communication based on wait and watch approach, the new mode of digital marketing involves two-way engagement and interacts in a language that provides real value to the audience. That is why like corporate brands, educational institutions are also leveraging on digital marketing techniques to connect with their target audience using content that suits to their interest and needs.

Digital media has influenced education in general. In fact, digital media isn’t just changing marketing in education – it’s changing overall education system. Today, it is virtually impossible to find a school or college without the help of internet. Over the past years, we have seen how MOOCs – Massive Online Open Courses is changing the way educational products are offered. Online courses through EdX and Coursera have become very popular among higher education seekers.

The point to observe is that digital media is rapidly influencing every aspect of education, and marketing is no exception to its growing influence.

Earlier, educational institutions relied on print media or mass advertising. But these forms of promotion are unmeasurable and are not customized to the needs of your audience. Besides, audience segmentation was difficult with mass advertising. So, you ended up paying more for your campaigns even if your target audience was just a subset of the entire market.

The digital consumer thinks and behaves differently. They require engaging content to attract and expect faster response mechanism. And what best way could it be to reach them quickly than digital media. So it follows that educational entities should include digital marketing techniques in their overall promotional strategy to reach out to this audience that is mostly available online. They must align their offline activities with online through digital media technologies.

Social media which is a crucial part of digital marketing has also evolved as a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing. It is unimaginable to talk about digital marketing without social media.

Social media is essentially a medium for the young crowd. They genuinely rely on this medium for information exchange and brand experience. So when it comes to connecting with admission aspirants, social media is the most important channel to engage them. Its ability to have one-on-one conversations with prospective students and address their needs on an individual level is unmatchable.

Social media is transforming educational institutions in a big way. Nearly all big and small higher educational institutions are using social media to keep in touch with their stakeholders. It is an excellent way to build brand awareness and make your digital marketing efforts more effective.

Digital marketing has one more important aspect to its credit and that is its ability to generate leads which was not at all possible with traditional marketing mediums earlier. But through digital marketing, turning prospects into leads and then finally converting them with the help of personalized messaging is a great advantage.

Some Key Digital Marketing Priorities for Higher Education in 2019

Given the results that it is has shown and the future potential of digital marketing space it will not be a fallacy to say that digital marketing will continue to fascinate education marketers in 2019 and is here to rule the world.

So, to get even better results, let us set some of the key digital marketing priorities for higher education sector to achieve bigger milestones in 2019. From artificial intelligence to big data, the industry is poised to witness some of the breakthrough developments in the field of higher education marketing using digital technologies. These trends are bound to take the whole education industry on an unprecedented level.

In this blog, we will take our readers through the evolving role of digital marketing in the education sector, and how it is going to change the way universities and colleges will engage with their audiences in 2019.

With the help of insights gathered from higher education institutions and marketing professionals working in this domain, we have crafted a suggestive list of digital marketing priorities for the new year.

#1. Personalization will be the Key to Success

A student’s journey involves series of marketing touchpoints. From emails and sms to social media feeds to google marketing – campaigns that are designed to convert leads into applicants. Here, everything boils down to the fact that how effectively you engage your prospective customer and offer the value he / she is looking for. In this regard, personalization of content will become a great priority of educational institutions. So the use of drip marketing campaigns and marketing automation designed to foster personalized messaging will gain importance in 2019.

Personalisation goes a long way in creating an emotional connect with your audience. Truly personalised content is based on audience persona and their needs. Crafting the perfect personalised communication journey involves offering value to your prospective buyers. It is crucial in today’s market scenario where consumers have lot of choices to choose from.

Fortunately, for educational institutions, providing value comes much easier as compared to other businesses. If used in the right place and at the right time, personalized messaging can be a powerful conversion tool. If you provide consistently valuable content at the right stages in your customer’s buying process, you’re pretty much guaranteed to win them over.

If you’re looking for creating compelling digital marketing campaigns for your college in 2019, try developing content that suits persona of your target audience.

#2. The Application of AI in Higher Education Marketing

Artificial Intelligence (AI), is the next big thing in marketing of higher education services. Edu-tech companies in India are building products that are designed to revolutionize the way marketing planning and budgeting is done.

Imagine a situation where the whole inventory allocation and budgeting is done using AI tools. Looking into historical data of your campaigns, the system suggests an optimized campaign distribution and gives you the final marketing plan for your college.

In 2019, AI is going to empower marketers to develop a much more informed and evidence based campaign strategy. It will also fuel investment in edu-tech companies by higher education institutions for co-creating marketing products for increasing productivity of the sector. With access to AI driven data analysis you can be sure to get proper ROI of your marketing efforts.

In years to come, with advancement in AI technology, education marketers will be compelled to use AI tools to deploy strategies for creating customer driven engagement.  From marketing automation to user specific content generation to forecasting campaign performance – all will be done using machine intelligence and big data.

In 2019, keep a close eye on Artificial Intelligence, especially new developments in marketing automation using this technology. With technology enabled marketing strategies, higher education needs investment that can scale up results. Institute’s ability to find audience, bucket them, and then run nurture campaigns to optimize results will take a major leap forward through AI. This is going to be an incredibly exciting thing for educational institutions to watch out for in 2019.

However, it is going to take some time before a structured application sets in place. But before it happens, make sure you align your investment in future technology and equip the marketing team to learn new tools to meet business goals.

#3. Driving Digital to Integrate Engagement with Experience

This year, universities and colleges will focus on building a consistent experience across every channel to meet expectations of prospective students. For admissions marketing professionals, providing first-hand experience of campus, faculty, alumni etc. has undoubtedly remained to be a crucial aspect of a prospect’s engagement with the institution. But with social media today, a similar level of human interaction can be created online. For experience simulation, edu-marketers will rely more on developing interactive touchpoints to improve one-to-one connections online.

A major focus for Colleges in 2019 will be to design digital campaigns that can provide ways to apply experiential marketing techniques to mould perceptions. Social listening will be taken more seriously to tap multi-platform voices and garner market intelligence. All this will be used to better understand audience behaviour – their interests, preferences etc.

#4. The Evolution of Marketing Automation

The evolution of marketing automation has transformed the way crucial marketing processes such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and lead management are done. It has streamlined engagement with prospective students in a big way.

2019 will bring further evolution in automation of key marketing strategies to further entice and engage prospects on digital channels. Marketing experts feel that there is a growing need for generating personalized experiences which could otherwise result in loyalty switch over to other college brands. With growing influence of marketing automation platforms, 2019 will see increased efforts to design personalized communications based on audience demography.

Efforts are already on by edu-tech companies to take marketing automation to the next level in 2019. They have started building work processes for enhancing effectiveness of marketing inventories to generate conversions and yield better ROI.

#5. Omni-Channel Attribution

In 2019 the desire to increase outreach will fuel marketers to implement tools and processes to provide a deeper understanding of multi-channel brand experience. The ability to allocate evidence based resources will be the key to generating marketing ROI.

Integrated marketing communication has always emphasized on having a multi-channel brand presence to reach out to more and more consumers. Hence, cross channel attribution will be the key priority of e-marketers in 2019. It is also a strategic way to consolidate brand position in a fragmented digital world.

#6. Driving Engagement on Mobile

With most of the young visitors increasingly using mobile devices and spending more time on it, admission marketers in colleges will have to identify subtle moments to engage them on this media. Strategies focussing mobile marketing will find more priority. Mobile moments will drive SEM strategies to generate traffic.

#7. Increasing Conversions

Conversions will be the most focussed area in 2019 for higher education industry. With marketing budgets becoming more accountable, education marketers cannot ignore budget constraints.

Admission marketers across education spectrum have already indicated that their top digital marketing priority for this year is converting leads into final consumers.

#8. Applying Analytics to Drive Marketing Decisions

One of the top priorities of educational institutes for this year will be to use data analytics from digital channels to drive marketing decisions. Institutes will be keen on getting access to robust marketing metrics giving useful insights to understand behaviour and preferences of its target audience i.e. prospective applicants. Current year will see higher education marketers use data insights to advance their institutions business decisions for pushing marketing efforts.

The focus of academic institutions as top priority in 2019 will be on delivering customer intelligence in the form of insights from marketing campaigns. In 2019, educational enterprises will expect marketing verticals to become more responsible for driving business value for the institution.

#9. Digital Marketing will Influence Higher Education Enrolments in 2019

For higher education sector, getting enrolments is the prime concern both in terms of quantity and quality of applicants. Students, parents, and other stakeholders are constantly hunting online for available options and making decisions accordingly. Your digital presence is influencing their choices.

Academic brands operating in higher education vertical will re-inforce their digital marketing strategies in 2019 to further consolidate on their market position. They will aggressively go for scouting ideal prospects online and differentiate themselves from competitors in doing so.

#10. Use Digital to Re-Position Institutes

Educational institutions will aggressively use digital marketing techniques especially social media to re-position themselves. Institutional re-branding will take a new leap forward with increasing influence of digital marketing channels.

Social media is going to be extremely important in 2019 to build impressive institutional images. Most of your target market (students, parents, and influencers) will do their research on your institute’s official social accounts to know more about your college. An effective and intuitive social page will create trust and attract prospects towards your academic brand.

Social media will eventually help your institution to develop brand statement and will allow you to transform your institutional image.

Your target market is constantly connected. They are already spending major chunk of their time online. So, you need to be present where your audience is. Once they are able to find your college online, the next challenge is to glue them with engaging content. You need to be responsive to address their doubts.

But how do you do this is a big challenge. In these circumstances, you can only entice ideal prospects with relevant content and rank higher on search results by promoting the right keywords and answering prospects’ questions.

#11. Tapping the Student Life-Cycle

Digital Marketing in 2019 will bring vital tools for distributing content and influencing students to apply to universities. During all phases of the admissions cycle, social media has proven to be critical touchpoint to access information about the prospective college.

These days, students’ desire personalized communication which is only possible with digital marketing campaigns. With penetration of mobile devices across demography and usage of internet in young community increasing day by day, providing the most effective way to reach and communicate with this group, valuable and concise content is crucial for encouraging these students to apply.

An effective digital marketing strategy will be an important step to attracting and engaging prospective students this year.

The Future of Digital Marketing in Higher Education

Since its inception, digital marketing has been a strong emerging channel to reach out to one’s target audience. Every day it is throwing new challenges and possibilities for education marketers to experiment.

The current year will be challenging to ensure that your college is providing a consistent brand experience across all digital and social platforms. Since everyone consumes content differently as per their need, it is crucial that the customer’s journey should be engaging and interesting. It should provide a seamless experience on their preferred channels.

Digital marketing has taught us that personalised experiences create higher engagement levels. In the years to come, more customer data points will be created to collect insightful data that can guide marketers to deliver content that is highly targeted to suit the needs of an individual buyer. Here, context for the content will be very crucial.

Information will not be restricted to just your college website. Institutional branding will begin to shape from the very first communication with your prospects. Through digital marketing techniques colleges are already developing engagement.

The possibilities of digital marketing to transform the higher education sector are endless. Digital marketing will ultimately help you to further understand your audience and inform them about your educational services and products in a convincing manner.

Let’s not be hasty to find emerging trends in digital marketing rather immerse ourselves in its application at the moment so as to build a better and stronger future for our higher education services.

Please do share your experiments in digital marketing with us.