3 Tips to Boost Your Higher Ed Digital Marketing Strategy

You’ve been working hard on your digital marketing strategy. You did the legwork to put one together and recruited the outside help you needed. Now, you’re busy connecting with your audience and helping them enroll. (If this doesn’t sound familiar, you might want to check out our post on building a digital marketing strategy to help you get started.)

But what if you could be even more successful? Whether you’re falling short of your targets, or just want to take your digital strategy to the next level, these tips should help you boost your online marketing and connect with more of your future students.

1. Check the Condition of Your School’s Brand

The first step in improving your digital marketing strategy is knowing where you stand. Most likely, you’re already engaged in marketing efforts, sending a message to the world about what you have to offer. But did that message take hold? And if so, how effectively?

Evaluating your overall brand health may seem like a complex task. After all, look at your internet marketing strategy! There’s your actual messaging, paid search, SEO, social media presence… and that’s just the start. Luckily, there are a few tools out there to make this task a little more straightforward.

Take AdWords, for example. Paid search is a great tool to support your digital marketing strategy in general, because of how easy it is to A/B test, and also how much data it generates. Use AdWords (or whatever tool you prefer) to look at your brand’s relationship to common keywords, and see where you rank. Are you up near the top of the list? If not, take note of the competition for those terms, and what they’re doing.

It’s also useful to keep an eye on social media, and what influencers are saying about your market. Take a look at your social media following, the impressions you generate, and the conversation around your brand. Also, make sure you’re staying current with your SEO strategy and actively maintaining your web presence.

2. Establish the Right KPIs

KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are the benchmarks by which you evaluate your digital marketing strategy. Depending on your goals and how you’re approaching them, the specific KPIs you use could vary. In higher education, you’re probably mostly concerned with moving potential students through the application process to enrollment. Ideally, you’ll find a balance between the volume of leads you attract, how qualified those leads are, and the amount you need to spend in order to get and keep them. Your KPIs are there to show you how close you are to that target.

It’s especially important to make sure your performance indicators are the right ones. With the right KPIs, you’ll have a clearer picture of your actual progress. You can then use that knowledge to adjust your online marketing strategy in an effective way. But with the wrong KPIs, you’ll have an inaccurate idea of where you stand and won’t know what you need to change to do better.

Depending on your goals and strategy, your KPIs could center on the following:

  • Impressions
  • Click Through Rate
  • Lead/Inquiry Volume
  • Cost Per Lead/Inquiry
  • Lead/Inquiry to Application Rate
  • Lead/Inquiry to Enrollment Rate

What exactly you’re targeting for each of these (how many leads you want, how much you want to spend, etc.) should vary depending on your goals and challenges. You might also find that you need to track a few different KPIs not listed here.

Not sure if you’re tracking the right KPIs? Want advice on the best way to go about doing so? Schedule a free, no obligation consultation here.

3. Establish Your Follow-up/Contact Strategy

Attracting leads isn’t the end of your digital marketing strategy. Once you have a potential student’s attention, it’s important to nurture their interest and guide them to enrollment. Establishing an effective and timely follow-up strategy to convert leads is a huge part of whether your digital marketing strategy is ultimately successful. To learn more about how following up can help turn leads into enrollments, check out our blog post here.

To set up and maintain an effective follow-up strategy, you need to monitor the quality of the leads you’re attracting and the amount you’re spending to nurture them and see results. Make sure you have a clear picture of your goals—both in relation to how much you’re spending and your desired results. These goals are the basis for your KPIs in this step. Some indicators you could use:

  • Contact Rate
  • Application Rate
  • Enrollment Rate
  • Cost Per Contact/Application/Enrollment

Establishing these up front helps you plan according to your needs. Once your strategy is in place, you can use these KPIs to measure success and inform strategic changes.

To ensure that you actually meet those KPIs, you’ll need to maintain your keyword strategy. By using the right keywords, you can attract motivated potential students who are more likely to enroll.  If you don’t have the SEO and SEM expertise in-house to accomplish this, don’t worry! You can partner with an agency, ideally one focused on campaigns for the higher education market.

Once you have the attention of those higher-intent leads, you then have to follow up with them quickly, before their interest fades. Make sure you understand what your leads actually want—e.g. where they are on the enrollment funnel, the types of questions they want answered—and address those needs efficiently.

As you start to see results, you’ll probably need to adjust your KPIs, and shift your strategy accordingly, and start this loop again.

Have questions?

Whether you’re building a new digital marketing strategy, need help with your KPIs, or want input on how to nurture your leads more effectively, we’re here to help. Schedule your free, no obligation enrollment consultation here.


Greg Clayton

All stories by: Greg Clayton