3 Reasons Your Institution’s Shift to Online Should Include A Marketing Plan



While the practically overnight shift to remote instruction in response to COVID-19 has many institutions turning to fully online teaching and learning for the first time, the internet is already familiar territory for their marketing departments.  

Over the last seven years higher education marketing budgets have transitioned to focus more on digital marketing (+22%), according to advertising insights from Kantar Media. Today, nearly 70% of marketing budgets are invested in digital experiences and the majority of institutions report some level of online marketing investment. The institutions that are investing heavily in online have also changed. While for-profits were still among the top-spending institutions in 2019, many nonprofits have joined the fray; prominent examples include Southern New Hampshire University, Western Governors University, and Maryville University. 

As your institution refines its approach to teaching and learning online in the wake of COVID-19, here are three reasons to take this opportunity to review your strategy for marketing online too: 

  1. Reaching prospective students where they are – The shift to digital in higher ed marketing strategies reflects how consumers research and make decisions today. The average American spends six hours a day on the internet and over 63,000 Google searches are performed every second. Many of your prospects are beginning, refining, and completing research on the web to guide their education experience (and those are just the folks who are actively looking). To reach these students, your brand needs to be there too. 
  2. Tracking and optimizing – Digital marketing allows institutions to track prospective-student behavior in real-time and see results throughout the entire marketing and enrollment funnel. When configured correctly, these insights enable higher ed marketers to accurately measure and optimize their strategies in order to achieve the highest yield possible—something traditional advertising methods like radio, billboards, and television have long struggled with. 
  3. Informing programming decisions – In addition to helping fill the enrollment pipeline, digital marketing can also help institutions gauge demand for programs, both existing and new. The “build it and they will come” mentality is (or should be) obsolete; we now have access to hard data that can provide actionable insights around key priorities such as program development, portfolio management, and more.

Find the Right Students for the Right Programs 

Blackboard’s Strategic Marketing & Recruiting Services have helped dozens of institutions break through the noise to reach their target audience with digital marketing campaigns that capture what makes the brand or program unique, while addressing the questions prospects care about.  

To learn more about navigating the disruptions and challenges from COVID-19, join our webinar series, Shifting Higher Ed Strategies in a Post-COVID World.  

We’ll discuss the impact on institutions, current trends—and counter trends—in the higher ed response, and how schools can respond in four key areas to help mitigate the impact and plan for the long-term success of their students and staff. This webinar series will offer insights around Marketing and Enrollment Strategies (session one) and Student Support and Retention Strategies (session two). Join us for one or both of our scheduled sessions