Trends Affecting Higher Ed Digital Marketing Today
By: Emma Rose Mar 14, 2019
The prospects that you market to everyday live in a digital world. They get their entertainment from YouTube, connect with friends on SnapChat, and search for jobs on LinkedIn. To effectively market to them, you need to meet them where they are. But the landscape is always changing. The following four trends are affecting higher education digital marketing today, and their influences is likely to grow throughout the rest of 2019.
Trend #1: Personalization
Consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every hour. They’ve become expert at tuning out advertising that doesn’t apply to them. Prospective students are no exception. In fact, they’re likely even better at it than their parents were.
In the past, marketers met this challenge by creating ads that matched the demographics of the person they were targeting. For example, by featuring images of someone with the same age and ethnicity as their target audience.
Today, users, especially younger users, are looking for ads that connect with them on a different level. In a survey by VidMob, 55% of young adults aged 15-34 preferred to interact with ads that reflected a taste or style similar to their own. For them, a demographic match wasn’t as important as a philosophical alignment.
Fortunately, social media sites and search engines are getting better at segmenting audiences based on factors that go way beyond gender and income level. Lookalike audiences, retargeting and custom content options are making advertising more personal for a wider range of users. With AI tools, marketers can meet these new personalization demands without spending every waking moment on ad buys.
Trend #2: Privacy
At the same time, privacy has become a major concern. Governments and social media platforms alike are struggling to protect user privacy. For proof, look know further than the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Governments, technology manufacturers, and social media platforms are all reexamining how they collect and share user data. Entities from Apple to Facebook are giving users more power to protect their own data, and creating potential blind spots for marketers in the process.
Staying up to date with the latest privacy concerns and regularly updating your sites is essential if you want to truly understand your audience and accurately track results.
Trend #3: Speed
The idea that users are impatient is nothing new. While some believe that the average user has a shorter attention span than a goldfish, users still engage with content that is relevant and interesting to them. Successful marketers are skilled at content creation, but they still need to get it in front of users.
Slow page speeds can hobble even the best collateral. Users expect to access information quickly. They want almost-instant access to whatever you’re offering. If your pages are slow to load, you’re probably losing conversions. And that goes double for mobile users.
Trend #4: Changing Roles
Technology is changing the role of the higher education marketer in subtle and not so subtle ways. Artificial intelligence lets us spend less time on ad buys and audience segmentation, which leaves more time for creating exceptional content.
We’re also called to a deeper understanding of the customer journey. In order to create content that sells, we need to truly understand our audience and the path that leads them from discovery to conversion.
In short, we need to allow technology to do what it does best, manage data, so we can do what we do best, creatively build connections.
Addressing these trends
These four trends have already disrupted the status quo in ways large and small. Higher education marketers who are still using traditional processes are finding themselves at a disadvantage. Meeting the challenge of these new trends requires specialized tools and innovative ways of thinking.