Higher Ed Marketing Trends to Get Ahead in 2024
The higher education industry will continue to navigate headwinds through 2024. Inflation, the perception of the diminishing value of higher education, and the dwindling prospective student base will continue to impact most colleges for the foreseeable future. Marketing teams will feel the brunt of this dynamic industry with tighter budgets and resources to overcome them. Therefore, the higher ed marketing trends we see for 2024 involve leveraging new technologies while also going back to the past to get smart and creative in helping to move their institutions forward.
6 Higher Ed Marketing Trends for 2024
1. The Use of AI Tools in Marketing Processes
Marketing teams at colleges are under-resourced. Many have been for a long time. But on top of that, the ever-changing industry demands more from marketing to keep up with new offerings and shifting strategies from the institutions. Marketers need to be nimble and make the best use of their limited time. Leveraging AI marketing tools will help teams produce faster. Whether it's getting help in writing webpages or emails, coming up with social media content ideas, or editing videos, marketing teams will find which AI tools help them be most efficient.
2. The Development of More Content Marketing to Differentiate
There will always be competition for prospective students between schools with similar program offerings. And today's prospective students are savvy "buyers," researching schools online, mostly by comparing college websites.
Colleges will incorporate more content marketing onto their websites to aid prospective students in their search by demonstrating why their programs are unique. Blog posts from faculty, graphics with student outcomes, and videos of the campus experience will help differentiate similar degrees.
3. A Marketing Mix of Traditional and Digital Channels
There are typically colleges that favor traditional or digital advertising, but only a few that have a mix of both in their marketing strategies. Both types of advertising have their pros and cons. Traditional (TV, billboards, radio) are more challenging to target specific audiences and can be expensive, but they demonstrate the local presence of the college with a broad reach. Digital advertising (PPC, display, paid social media) is easier to target specific audiences and track performance, but those are getting harder due to privacy changes.
People see traditional and digital channels in different parts of their day and varying parts of their enrollment journey, so a mix of traditional and digital channels will help institutions reach busy prospective students.
4. Encouragement of User-Generated Content from Students
Encouraging enrolled students to contribute to marketing efforts will help under-resourced marketing teams leverage content marketing. Beyond a set of hands to help, students provide an invaluable first-hand perspective on what it's like to be on campus. Their authentic points of view help demonstrate the college's brand and what makes it stand out in a way that will get the attention of Gen Zers, who are distrusting and not as open to advertising.
Marketers will collaborate with students to become brand ambassadors running social media takeovers or influencers posting on their own accounts. Creative students will also contribute by taking day-in-the-life photos or videos or writing blog posts with their first-hand accounts to be shared through the college's marketing platforms.
5. Marketing Directly Targeted to Parents
Parents have gotten more involved and influential in the college selection process for their kids. With high school-age students being more complex to reach and less receptive to advertising, colleges will market to their parents.
At the beginning of the search process, colleges will target parents through online advertising. As prospective students reach out to colleges, colleges who collect mailing addresses and parent contact information will send information directly to parents through direct mail or email addressing topics most important to them, like financial aid, safety, and details around what their students will learn.
6. An Increased Focus on Retention Marketing
Enrollment will remain the primary goal for marketing teams; however many colleges also face challenges with students staying to graduate, especially for community colleges and programs for adult learners.
Marketing teams will be pulled into developing strategies to help with student retention in addition to enrollment marketing. Their marketing strategies will need to be more holistic than in recent years, with communications to prospective students and enrolled students, collaborating with not just admissions teams but also student support teams.
These higher ed marketing trends for 2024 will help colleges address a complex set of issues that many are facing. From teams stretched thin to increased competition and a more complex enrollment journey, marketing teams that are creative, agile, and resourceful in 2024 will be the ones to get ahead.