How often has your higher ed marketing team signed up for sweet new digital marketing tools only to get slammed with sticker shock once the trial periods expire?
The unfortunate reality in 2023 is those SaaS premiums for your team’s favorite online tools can stack up really fast.
Enrollment marketing is hectic enough without having to worry about monthly expenses for digital services.
Good news! There are still quite a few fantastic budget-friendly marketing tools out there to meet your school’s needs.
You may recognize a few of them from my previous posts. That’s a testament to how much I appreciate the value these services provide.
Here are 10 budget-friendly marketing tools worthy of your team’s consideration!
Content Development Marketing Tools
Content marketing takes a lot of mental bandwidth.
And with so many different mediums, like blogs, email, social media posts, and short-form video, it can feel impossible for smaller marketing teams to keep up with it all.
But these tools can help save your sanity by streamlining your content creation.
You may have heard of this one.
2023 has most certainly been the year of ChatGPT in just about every industry.
ChatGPT has changed how higher ed marketers approach content by trimming the fat off “busy” work.Click to tweet
With some discerning prompts, ChatGPT can save you tons of time by helping you write personalized emails, newsletters, and other short or long-form content.
So why am I talking about ChatGPT in an article about budget-friendly marketing tools?
I’m sure many of you have taken ChatGPT’s free public version, GPT-3.5, for a spin. But their newest iteration, GPT-4, is where the real magic happens.
While GPT-3.5 is incredibly useful in its own right, GPT-4 can take your content to the next level through a better grasp of prompts and more accurate feedback.
As of this writing, GPT-4 does have hourly prompt restrictions due to incredibly high demand.
But if your team can budget their prompts wisely, they can save incredible time (and sanity) with content development.
Otherwise, if you’d like to skip straight to a ChatGPT bot that’s already tailored specifically for higher ed marketing, check out “Higher Ed Mark” over at Poe.com.
Higher Ed Mark is a personalized chatbot that I’ve engineered to give feedback on a wide range of higher ed marketing topics, using my own website as a baseline. And it’s free for anyone to use at any time!
Open.ai GPT-4: $20/month
Canva is an incredibly accessible graphic design tool for your team to make professional-looking visual content.
Not only can you use Canva to edit custom visuals, but it comes with a massive library of templates, stock photos, gifs, and other useful media.
And the best part is you don’t have to be a design wizard to get great results. For example, I use Canva extensively for my graphics needs.
Give the free version a try! If you love what you see, their Canva Pro and Canva for Teams plans are also reasonably priced.
(To hear more about how Canva can help your marketing team, catch our interview with Canva’s Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki on The Higher Ed Marketer podcast on June 20, 2023!)
Canva: Free, $12.99/month for Canva Pro, or $149.90/year for Canva for Teams
Why have a meeting when a video will do?
Seriously, though, Loom is great for recording personalized video content you can send to prospective students.
Personalized content is king in digital marketing, and you can use this budget-friendly marketing tool to build an emotional connection with your audience through video.
Also, you can skip that lengthy internal email to your colleagues and send them a link to a video instead!
With Loom, your audience can time-stamp comments, react with emojis, and quickly send links to video responses.
Check out the video below to see how else your higher ed marketing team can utilize Loom.
Loom: Free or $12.50/month for Business Plan
Engagement Marketing Tools
Of course, as higher ed marketers, you should understand it’s not enough to churn out quality content.
You have to find ways to engage with your school’s target audiences, and several budget-friendly applications can help you with that.
Video QR codes made quite the comeback during Covid, and the folks at spokenote took notice of their marketing potential.
With spokenote, you can record a video, embed it in one of their QR codes, and send it on its way!
You can attach the QR code to prospective students’ acceptance letters or even post them around your campus for any curious passers-by to scan. The possibilities are endless.
In keeping with Gen Z’s obsession with authentic messaging, BombBomb is another cost-friendly leader in digital engagement.
BombBomb is an easy-to-use video recording and editing tool.
What sets BombBomb apart is that it integrates seamlessly into email and text messaging. So BombBomb’s intuitive design allows for more personal one-to-one engagement with your leads.
BombBomb: Essentials Package for $33/month or Teams Package for $53/month/seat
Surveys are a quick and reliable way to engage with current, former, and prospective students to gauge your school’s brand perception.
An AI like ChatGPT could certainly help you sort your ideas into actionable questions. However, administering them to your audiences and sifting through the data are entirely different matters altogether.
That’s where a service like SurveyMonkey comes in.
Not only do they supply you with all the templates and questions you could ever hope for, but they can also integrate their service with most CRMs.
SurveyMonkey: Starts at $25/user/month
Lead Generation Marketing Tools
As the enrollment cliff approaches, higher ed marketers must use every possible resource to get prospective leads’ attention.
Here are some budget-friendly tools to help you top off your enrollment marketing funnel.
An automated email marketing campaign is critical to your enrollment marketing strategy.
Responsive, automated emails have an 86 percent higher open rate than cold correspondence. That’s because prospective students are more inclined to read a reply that is generated as a result of their inquiries.
Mailchimp will provide you with pre-built email templates, and their standard plan offers analytics support and curated segmentation.
As an affordable alternative, MailerLite includes similar services in their free plan for twice the number of subscribers (1,000 versus Mailchimp’s 500).
Mailchimp: Free Basic Plan or $20/month for Standard Plan
Think of your enrollment website as your school’s storefront. If prospective students aren’t drawn in by what they see, they’ll move on.
OptinMonster helps maximize lead conversions and reduce abandonment rates by personalizing your offers with targeted behavior automation.
They also provide real-time analytics so you can adjust your website’s template as needed.
And if they’re good enough for Harvard, they’re good enough for your school!
OptinMonster: Starts at $9/month
Speaking of storefronts, if a customer visits a shop that doesn’t have someone available to answer their questions, what do you think that customer will do?
RMIs (the “we’ll get back to you” kind) are a nice feature, but let’s face it. We are a society of instant gratification.
That’s where live chatbot services like Olark come in. Olark’s chatbot answers your prospective student’s prompts and provides you with detailed feedback.
Olark: Starts at $29/month
If you’re familiar with the popular geocaching experience Pokemon Go, then you’re already familiar with GeoFli’s concept.
GeoFli is a powerful personalization tool for your school’s enrollment website.By geotargeting your prospective lead’s local IP address, GeoFli can customize your website on the fly and alter it to cater to the visitor’s region.
This approach has many practical use cases, like the one suggested by GeoFli’s owner, Kyle Pucko, on The Higher Ed Marketer podcast:
“Take an international student as an example.
Colleges have tons of information about international enrollment, international applications, but when somebody visits their homepage, they see the same thing that everybody else sees.
Wouldn’t it be cool if they [saw on the homepage] a button that says, “Interested in our TOEFL exam requirements? Click here!”
And that message disappears if you’re visiting from the United States.”
GeoFli: Starts at $19/month
Bonus Marketing Tool
If you want to squeeze the most out of your enrollment CRM, then you should check out Zapier.
Zapier can connect to and integrate your CRM with thousands of the most popular social apps, calendars, and email clients.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your omnichannel leads, then Zapier may be just what you need to bring all your processes under one banner.
Zapier: Starts with Free Basic Plan (100 task/month)
A Bite-Sized Sample of Cost-Friendly Digital Marketing Tools
With hundreds of available marketing tools and services promising to elevate your higher ed marketing team’s game, it’s a grind to keep up with them all.
And if you’re not careful, they can nibble away at your budget till you’re seeing red.
That’s why Caylor Solutions keeps up with all the latest digital marketing tools and trends — so you don’t have to!
So if you’re in the market for some marketing tool bargains that suit your specific needs, feel free to reach out!
We’d love to help you stretch your school’s marketing budget!
Looking for Enrollment Marketing Content that Works?
You’re in luck! We’ve curated 25 awesome ideas inspired by top higher ed institutions across the country and put them in one handy guide: 25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content.
In this popular resource from Caylor Solutions, you’ll get…
- 25 enrollment marketing content ideas you might never have considered before
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Featured image by dingelstaddalton via Adobe Stock