For higher education marketers, reaching students and alumni can be challenging, and with the major changes in technology and marketing that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, making impactful impressions that drive engagement may seem precarious. Younger generations are compelling institutions to keep up with the ever-evolving technology trends of this increasingly progressive time in history. With these challenges in mind, many higher education institutions are using Emma by Marigold to create impressive and effective marketing strategies to draw students and alumni, and ultimately, drive revenue.
Now, post-pandemic, and catering to tech-friendly Gen Z, making a substantial impact goes beyond simply sending marketing emails. Institutions must aim to drive cross-functional engagement — with a full mobile stack, unify their branding across departments, and create multi-segmented campaigns to reach the right audience for the right purpose.
Creating critical conversations with segmentation & personalization
Regardless of where you try to connect with your audience, personalization is key to driving conversions. Segmentation in a multichannel marketing strategy is critical to evolving the conversation with prospective & current students and alumni. As you develop conversations with users across departments, you’re collecting valuable data that can then be harnessed to progressively profile audiences, allowing you to better personalize communications. Younger generations, like Gen Z, find these personalized communications highly valuable in that they create the feeling of one-on-one interactions — much more than mass email marketing messages users are likely to ignore.
Indeed, according to Marigold’s 2023 Global Consumer Trends Index, many consumers are unfortunately frustrated with the lack of personalized messaging they are receiving. Nearly half of all surveyed consumers feel irked by irrelevant content or offers (49%), messaging that doesn’t reflect their wants and needs (42%), and communications delivered at the wrong time of day (24%).
Working with a platform that provides the ability to meticulously collect and segment data into distinct audience groups — to ensure that the most relevant messaging goes to each user — is an essential component to running successful campaigns. For universities like the University of California Santa Barbara, using these segmentation features in the most effective ways helps keep their retention rates high and boosts their website traffic.
Unifying branding across channels
In conjunction with working out a segmentation and personalization strategy is creating a branded experience with a holistic multichannel marketing strategy that integrates channels such as email, video and SMS to drive cross-functional engagement. Creating a cohesive voice, in its most basic degree, necessitates considering the sum of all your parts. More specifically, creating a branded experience means taking the conversations necessary to each function or department and approaching them with a single strategy. Some top considerations to keep in mind are whether messages across departments are conflicting, whether the cadence among different conversations can be synchronized, and if it’s possible to connect conversations across teams to create stronger, more relevant content for your audience.
Creating a unified multichannel experience
When it comes to creating a unified messaging experience, email is undoubtedly the best place to start — and the channel that will likely serve as your strategy’s foundation. With many institutions having small marketing teams, the ROI from email is unparalleled — it’s a low cost, high-value, scalable medium that’s easy to personalize and evaluate. Of course, marketers need a strategy that leverages all channels, but as higher education institutions own their databases, email is comfortably the most cost effective.
Used in tandem, video and SMS can be truly effective ways of communicating simple to complex concepts in a fun, accessible way. Video works great across channels and continues to encourage a singular, unified voice of your institution. Also incorporating SMS into your overall marketing strategy could prove to be another extremely useful strategy. The great news — SMS is quite simple to integrate with email and can drive big results; these channels share similarities that make leveraging them not only easy, but also incredibly powerful.
Making all communications mobile friendly
As a frictionless way for alumni, students and subscribers to engage with an institution, a full-fledged mobile strategy is no longer a nice-to-have, but the cornerstone of any digital transformation. Ensuring that all of your communications are mobile-friendly is imperative to keeping your audience engaged. For example, if your website isn’t coded to adapt to a mobile view, there’s a problem, and you’ll find that this problem will escalate with emails that aren’t created to adapt to mobile either. Test your marketing, and be 100% positive that your communications render correctly on different screen sizes — including your landing pages, website and emails — before sending messages out.
Testing is essential
We strongly recommend analyzing your current database across functions to determine similarities and differences, from which you can then create baseline segments to begin launching your testing. Testing your content and refining your targets will be vital to the success of achieving a unified brand experience from your institution. Taking the time to improve conversations with targeting, segmenting and personalizing will vastly improve the delivery of your content, helping you achieve a singular voice of your institution.
For more tips in higher education marketing, checkoutThe Ultimate Guide to Higher Ed Email Marketing to get insights and best-practice resources for emailing that we share exclusively with higher ed and academic professionals like you.