Talkin' Higher Education Marketing on Blog Talk Radio
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mike and Christy from Lexinet on their Blog Talk Radio program about higher education marketing strategy. We discussed the importance of what we all felt to be keys to successful marketing practice for colleges and universities that are trying to communicate with their prospective students and alumni effectively.
The conversation began with a focus on how critical it is for colleges and universities to segment their communications to different members of their audience. We discussed how Converge provides a survey of alumni to help colleges and universities gain a deeper understanding of various segments of their alumni so that they can communicate with them via their preferred channels and with messages that are compelling. Speaking of channels, we talked about how crucial it is to utilize a variety of them: email, printed pieces, social media, web sites, blogs, and more. The key take-away from this segment of the show was that channels should work in harmony. In other words, the web is not the enemy of print. Nor is email a replacement for a letter in the mail sent to a loyal donor. Instead, we need to think about how channels work together. For example, an elegant printed piece can incorporate a QR code that is intended to drive the recipient to your web site to sign up for an event (which can be tracked easily online). Another important consideration when determining what channels to use is knowledge of what recipients find effective. If 96% of your alumni view email as an effective way to receive information from your alumni relations office, think twice before investing in postcards.
The conversation then moved into marketing philosophy. At Converge, we view the three components of successful marketing as strategy, execution, and analysis.
First, it is necessary to conduct research and assess your current efforts to make sure that your communication practices are aligned with what your audience wants and needs. Once strategy is deemed to be sound, it is time to execute.
Execution entails the development and dissemination of content on web sites, social media channels, viewbooks, printed pieces, advertisements, your blog, etc. in ways that help you reach your target audience and, in today's world, where inbound marketing is what you should really be focusing on, help your target audience find you. An example of how you can help your audience come to you is via effective SEO on your web site so that it shows up higher in search rankings on the internet.
How do we make sure that our execution is working? Through constant and diligent analysis. Studying your Google Analytics to see if prospective students are requesting more information, scheduling campus visits, and downloading application forms is a prime example of what should be analyzed consistently.
Remember: the process of strategizing, executing, and analyzing is cyclical, not linear. Analysis always informs strategy, which, when modified, alters execution. And, your execution should be analyzed routinely to ensure a sound strategy. Rinse, lather, repeat.
You can listen to the full interview below. Enjoy and feel free to chime in.