There’s good news and bad news about what makes or breaks a higher education marketing campaign.
The college decision-making process has changed for prospective students and their parents—while many higher education marketing strategies have remained just as they were in the days of snail mail and un-ironic vinyl records.
Today’s college students are far more likely to initiate contact with the colleges and universities that they’re interested in.
Did you catch that? Your prospective students are likely to know about you before you know about them.
It’s scary—and exciting.
The scary part
Institutional marketers don’t have nearly the level of control over their reputations that they once did. It is impossible—and often inadvisable—to try to tamp down what people say about you on the Internet. The explosion of social media platforms of all kinds means that ordinary people’s opinions can be broadcast more widely than ever before—and often that’s completely out of the professional marketer’s and communications experts’ control.
To say it another way: your prospective students will find out about you on the Internet before you hand them a glossy brochure at the college fair. And what their research uncovers will not always be under your control.
The lesson from the scary side of this new reality is this:
Taking control of the organic search results returned for your institution has never been more important.
By ‘organic’ search results, of course, we mean the kind of results that an ordinary Google search returns at the top of the search page—excluding the results marked as advertisements. Remember, students—and their parents—these days are extremely savvy when it comes to advertisements and marketing. They’re not going to be fooled into thinking that paid links are anything other than what they are.
Here’s where the exciting part of this new reality comes in: as a higher education marketer, you have the opportunity to optimize your institutional communications so that they will reach the right students with the right message at the right time—organically, without the use of ads, which is, for digital natives, exactly the way they prefer to receive the information they’re most likely to trust.
We’re not saying that you have to leave advertising and your existing marketing campaigns behind. We’re saying that your existing efforts can be complemented and enhanced by a new approach.
And we’re here to show you how.
Your college or university can’t afford not to go inbound. Check out our helpful infographic.