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May 2

10 Awesome Tools for Higher Education Digital Marketing


Imagine you have to build a house in a few weeks when it really takes months. But you don’t have to imagine it, do you? Because the “house” is your higher ed digital marketing plan!

You could just have at it with whatever antiquated tools you can find lying around. 

There’s a hammer. Here are some nails, wood, and a rusty old saw.

But just think how much harder than necessary it’s going to be to build a house that way.

Not to mention, basically impossible to get it done in the time allotted.

This is why it’s so important not to settle for the same old tools. 

The higher education marketers that are executing digital marketing plans like rock stars today don’t just work hard. They work smart.

They’re picking up new tools that set their marketing plans on fire. Here are a few we recommend.

Digital Marketing Tools: Content, Engagement, and Lead Generation

I’ve written about all kinds of tools over the years and trying out new ones all the time. So this is by no means a comprehensive list.

Let’s just focus on 10 tools that help you execute three vital phases of your digital marketing strategy: content development, engagement, and lead generation.

Content Development

1. Canva

Canva screenshot - higher education digital marketing

Source: canva.com

To meet your heavy demand for infographics, downloadables, microsites, presentations, etc. in your digital marketing plan, you need tools that make it:

  • Easy to produce these assets quickly so you can get them out, and 
  • Simple for non-designers to use so more of your team can contribute.

Give Canva a try. It’s a very beginner-friendly medium compared with pro tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Editing is as easy as PowerPoint, if not easier. 

And it has plenty of ready-made templates, stock photos, icons, animations, and other fun stuff to just grab and go. Really designed to simplify your life.

2. Camtasia

Camtasia screenshot - higher education digital marketing

Source: techsmith.com

There’s no question anymore that video is a critical part of a successful content plan.

So I’m not going to tell you about just one tool that makes creating videos easier. I’ll give you two.

The first is Camtasia. This is a great platform for recording your screen for webinars, explainer videos, how-to videos, etc., and it makes editing pretty simple.

It’s very intuitive. I found I didn’t need to go through a tutorial or anything to start using it. You can really just learn as you go.

Now for the second one …

3. Loom

Loom screenshot

Source: loom.com

There are a lot of similarities between Loom and Camtasia in terms of what you can do. But they feel quite different, which is why I tend to use them for different purposes.

Loom feels less like a video editor to me and more like a Zoom meeting. So, I find it’s really great for creating videos for small audiences, or a series of simple, basic videos.

Consider using Loom for your quick video e-newsletter messages, greetings to new students, or inter-departmental video “memos.”


4. CoSchedule

CoSchedule screenshot - higher education digital marketing

Source: coshedule.com

When you consider all the social media, email, video and other channels you have to manage, simplifying content delivery across the board with the right tool can change your life.

Like several of the tools on this list, this is one my team uses to get our content out. (You’re probably here right now thanks, in part, to CoSchedule!)

Though CoSchedule offers a few different tools, I’m referring specifically to the Marketing Calendar application. It’s super easy to see everything in one place and to automate delivery.

Bonus if you use WordPress: The CoSchedule integration works great.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to duplicate tools when you don’t need to. If you already use Canva (#1 above), it has a basic content calendar for social media that may be good enough for you.

5. BombBomb

BombBomb screenshot - higher education digital marketing

Source: bombbomb.com

Let’s talk some more about video – specifically video email and texting via this platform, which I’ve raved about before.

It’s great to have easy-to-use video creation tools like the ones I listed above, but even better is to have the video creation integrated with exactly what you want to use it for.

In this case, that purpose is personal, one-to-one or one-to-many videos for the engagement phase of your enrollment or advancement funnels.

I recommend this for teams who are reaching out to qualified leads, maybe after a recruitment or fundraising event. 

You could go through the call sheet and leave voicemail messages as you typically do. Or, you could turn that script into a much more engaging video email or text message to all.

Even better, you could make a few different versions to personalize the message by group: a version for athletes vs. one for non-athletes, for example.

Pro Tip: Further down the funnel, I recommend going further with personalization by making truly one-to-one videos:

  1. Grab your high priority list of maybe 50 hot prospects. 
  2. Download the Make It Big app for your smartphone or tablet. 
  3. Type their name and hold up your device at the beginning of each video. (Nothing makes us want to watch a video more than seeing our own name on the screen!)
  4. Use their name and personal details as you ask them to apply now!

6. UniBuddy

Unibuddy screenshot - higher education digital marketing

Source: unibuddy.com

This student ambassador platform isn’t for your enrollment marketing team to use in a hands-on way. It’s more for you to facilitate as you put it in the hands of your best students.

UniBuddy is an awesome way to mobilize your most charismatic brand ambassadors (yes, your institution is a “brand!”) on campus.

Putting real students in a position to endorse your college or university is a highly effective way to grab the attention of prospects and keep them engaged.

Bonus tip: Higher ed marketers are also seeing a lot of success with ZeeMee, a higher ed-focused social media app. Consider putting your ambassadors on this platform, too.

Lead Generation

7. Unbounce

Unbounce screenshot - higher education digital marketing

Source: unbounce.com

How effective are your landing pages at getting prospects to schedule visits, request information, and take other key actions?

These days, you don’t need to hire a digital marketing consultant who specializes in conversion to answer that question. Artificial intelligence does the job pretty darn well.

That’s how Unbounce works. It analyzes your landing pages and tells you how to optimize them – by making tweaks to content, forms, design, etc. – to lure in more window shoppers.

8. Olark

Olark screenshot - higher education digital marketing

Source: olark.com

Here’s a philosophical question for you: If a prospect visits your website and no one is there to see it, does that prospect really exist?

Just kidding. Well, half-kidding.

The reality is that your website is like a storefront with nobody sitting at the front desk. Folks are coming in and out all the time, and you’re relying entirely on signage to get them to “buy.”

What if you have somebody at the “front desk” 24/7, ready to greet your guests? 

That’s what Olark does. It’s a chatbot that pops up to say hello and ask questions to start qualifying your lead. It then brings the humans together, alerting you of the lead.

Need more convincing that you should try this? I’ve got nine reasons for you.

9. SharpSpring

SharpSpring screenshot

Source: sharpspring.com

This is an incredibly robust marketing automation platform that could, if you want it to, tie just about everything above together in one place.

SharpSpring offers the chatbot, the landing page analytics, the email marketing, forms, social – a truly dizzying array of lead gen capabilities. If you use them all, that is.

It’s very scalable. I usually recommend this to higher ed folks who want to start fresh with a single, digital marketing solution, even if they only want a couple of features.

10. LeadSquared

LeadSquared screenshot

Source: leadsquared.com

This tool has some similarities with SharpSpring, just less robust, a bit simpler, and with the added benefit that education is one of their specialties.

If all you need is a straightforward way to monitor lead capture across your channels (social, email, etc.) and manage them in one place, LeadSquared does this really well.

I’ve recommended it to many institutions whose admissions and/or advancement folks have found it pretty easy to learn and have been able to point to terrific ROI.

We’ll help you find the best new-to-you higher education digital marketing tools.

As much as we all see the value in learning new things that make our jobs easier, it can be difficult to make the time – especially when you’re not sure if you’re learning the best tool for you.

One of the digital marketing consultation services we offer is helping you sort through the options to find one that you’re most likely to find success using.

It’s important that your tools fit your goals, capabilities, comfort level, budget, etc. We love to help marketers work through those considerations and set them up for success.

So, if you’re shopping for some shiny new tools, let me know

I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you to spare you the pain of going the wrong way – and instead, help you build that “house” in no time. 

Want to Improve Your Digital Marketing Results?

Then you’ve got to know how to write for the web. That’s why we want to send you our popular ebook: Writing for the Web: 7 Secrets to Content Marketing Success for Education Marketers!

With this helpful resource, you’ll learn how to: writing for the web ebook

  • Grab your reader’s attention immediately
  • Pull your reader’s attention deeper into your content
  • Write so that Google (and other search engines) find you easily
  • Increase your website’s conversion rates

In short, you’ll be able to write the copy that makes your digital marketing strategy work for you. Download your copy today!

Featured image by mrmohock via Adobe Stock

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