Higher education marketing challenges in 2021 present critical opportunities for creative strategy and engagement through ads, content, and optimization. To maintain high rankings amid COVID-19, it’s time to rethink the enrollment journey and take a red pen to your digital marketing strategies in the new year. 

Standardized strategies set you back, and right now, your goal is to push forward. Pushing forward means fearlessly facing challenges like fewer applicants, supporting personalization in education, and promoting your academic programs’ unique benefits. 

Let’s resolve higher education marketing challenges in 2021 by strengthening your recruitment programs, communicating value, and generating high-intent leads. Here are three ways you can fill your classes and communities with scores of students next year. 

Higher Education Marketing Challenges in 2021: New year, new challenges, new opportunities

1 | Make social media the focus of your recruitment process to increase engagement

Challenge: Prospective students use your website and social media presence to get a sense of your school’s spirit. In 2020, you mastered the essentials of updating and posting on your institution’s social media accounts regularly (right?!). This year’s challenge is actively reaching out by replying to comments, leveraging chat features, inviting student feedback, or running focused social ads to connect incoming students with your school’s message. 

Opportunity: How can you stand out when your competition is on every platform? Have an action-packed profile and social ads that pop! Try posting video clips with a welcoming message from your recruiters or use creative ad copy that resonates with your target audience. Host live tours of your campus to showcase social distancing and health safety efforts. In the world of virtual interaction, increasing engagement through social media recreates the “college experience” that students desire in exchange for their most precious resources: time, money, and interest.

2 | Communicate value by distributing optimized content on your blogs and popular student websites 

Challenge: You can add value to future graduates long before they log on to register for classes. Your target audience is ripe for learning, so use rich content to plant some university wisdom and nurture new relationships. But, you reap what you sow, right? Sow some SEO seeds in 2021! 

Opportunity: Optimized content provides more outlets for potential applicants to find you in a saturated online network. For best results, create valuable content tailored to your target audience with long-tail keywords and built-in links. Take things a grade-level further by asking high-authority, popular student websites to link back to content on your blog. 

3 | Generate leads with paid search and creative landing pages for more enrollments 

Challenge: If you have a new program or a desirable program, like distance education, that serves a niche student market, use high intent searches to your advantage to reach enrollment goals. Here’s the extra credit: restructure your paid search campaigns (that’s what we did for this higher education organization to increase their enrollments). 

Opportunity: By generating qualified leads using efficient paid search campaigns, you drive traffic to creative landing pages that speak directly to prospective students. After one or two clicks, learners can request more information from your recruiters about how they can enroll in your upcoming semester. Remember: testing isn’t just for earning college credits. Use A/B testing to discover the best landing pages for the students you serve best. 

We’re here to help you make it through these challenges and more. Our team of edu-focused digital strategists follows your unique data trends, so applicants follow you. Let’s have a rally 🎉 for opportunities in higher education digital marketing! Start the new year fearlessly with a free marketing analysis

Adrian Padron

Author Adrian Padron

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