How to Master Higher Education Marketing: Why It’s Time to Go Digital

Rachels Education Post
Rachel Lehn
May 12, 2016

Do you remember what it was like when you were looking at schools? Did you ask your family and friends where they attended? Did your parents attend a prestigious school and influence you to follow in their footsteps? Did friends encourage you to forge your own educational path?

While family and friends may have been the main influences in your decision, students today are increasingly turning to Google to inform their decision about higher education. Thus, educational institutions are increasingly investing in digital strategies to engage potential students.

Search and social ads are now huge influencers in where students decide to go to school. Whether it’s high school juniors deciding between staying in-state or moving to a brand new city for college, young professionals looking to try a new career, or grandmas who just enjoy learning later in life, it is incredibly important to engage with them online.


How prospective students search for higher education options

While family and friends still influence prospective students’ college searches, Google is quickly becoming a major voice in the process.  According to Google’s recent study on education trends, search is the second most used tool for finding a school. Prospective students use search to explore the many colleges, programs, and courses available to them.

At the start of the research process, many prospective students begin with non-branded searches. This means that students are starting the process with an open mind. They have not chosen a favorite school and are open to what the search engines bring them.

This is where digital marketing comes in.

In terms of paid search, it’s vital to invest in more general search terms like “Liberal Arts College in Chicago,” “Best Coding Academy,” or “Online Marketing Degree.” Bidding on these general search terms is just the beginning. Then, sites need relevant content about these general search terms–plus more specific long-tailed keywords–to bring in organic traffic. Both paid search and SEO are essential to a successful and robust higher education digital marketing strategy.


Why optimizing for mobile especially matters for education

Like Edmund said, desktop browsing is so 2000 and late. Did you know that more search queries take place on mobile than desktop? Mobile traffic continues to grow, and the trend holds true for prospective students as well.

In their education study, Google found that half of all prospective students will look to their phone to help them find a college. Clearly, optimizing education sites for best mobile user experience is necessary.

In addition to ensuring that a site is mobile-friendly, paid search campaigns must also be segmented by traffic type. Mobile traffic needs to be exposed to ads geared for engaging the prospective student on their phone. This includes elements like directing them to a mobile landing page or offering click-to-call options.

Of course, often the search will transfer from phone to laptop, so it’s important to retain consistent and excellent user experience across all platforms.


Real numbers, real clients, real growth

So now that you understand how important digital marketing is for any higher education organization, you’re probably wondering what kind of growth it can create. You’re in luck. Our recent case studies highlight several education clients that have experienced tremendous growth with both paid search and SEO.

For example, paid search and SEO provided the New York Code + Design Academy with efficient growth and increased traffic. The NYCDA case study showcases how effective constant bid management and adjustments can be. Not only did this allow them to expand their course offerings to new cities, but it also decreased their cost-per-lead by 40%. SEO strategies like targeting thousands of unique keywords and optimizing blog posts have increased overall traffic to their site by 149%.


Want to keep studying digital marketing for education?

Digital marketing isn’t just an incredibly powerful tool to help connect education organizations with prospective students; the numbers show that it’s an essential tool for connecting to the modern student.

Interested in learning more about how your educational organization can market to prospective students? Fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch. You can also find out more about our paid search and SEO services.

Do you have any digital marketing for education tips? How did you research higher education when you were a prospective student? Tweet us at @Perfect_Search.

Rachel Lehn
Manager, Business Operations

Rachel originates from Kansas City, Missouri (go Royals!). She grew up riding her horse Tinkerbelle and she has a secret knack for making really authentic puppy noises. Two of her greatest wishes? Driving a Tesla and becoming fluent in Russian.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Our digital marketing services will take your business to the next level.

Start your journey with a free site audit.