November 8

7 Essential Marketing Strategies for Your Education Marketing Plan


While there are many marketing strategies you could have in your marketing plan, there are at least seven that I consider essential for higher ed marketing success.

Depending on how you categorize things, there are as many marketing strategies available to you as you can imagine. 

Technically, any creative method for reaching out to your marketing personas can be a marketing strategy.  

For example, if you placed advertisements on bicycles, you could call it “bicycle marketing.”

And even if your “bicycle marketing” helped boost your enrollment numbers, I would still hesitate to say that it is essential.

There are some marketing strategies I’ve seen over the years that have earned their spot in the essentials list. 

Here are the seven marketing strategies that I feel are essential for every higher ed marketer, no matter if you’re a small or a large college or university. 

Messaging Strategy 

First up on our essentials list is a messaging strategy. 

A good messaging strategy defines who you are as an organization, the value that you have to offer prospective students, and the language you’ll use to communicate that value.

Every messaging strategy should include your

Your messaging strategy not only tells you what language you will use in your marketing campaigns, it also strikes out language that you will not use. 

For example, you might want a light-hearted tone in your messaging, but it’s good to put limits on the kinds of humor you’ll use in your messaging to avoid offending your audiences

Sometimes there are words you could use but for some reason, you decide not to. 

An example of this would be a word that’s been well-established in the messaging of another college or university. 

Better to avoid using that word in your messaging by limiting it in your messaging strategy. 

Website Strategy

While it may seem old-school, your website is still the central hub of your digital marketing campaigns.

A website strategy can get lengthy and detailed, but basically, it should spell out the objectives and website architecture (menu navigation) you will use when creating your education website.

At Caylor Solutions, we advocate that all higher ed websites should be enrollment-focused. 

That means every copy, layout, and design decision should be made with enrollment in mind. 

It also means that you should assume your primary visitor is a prospective student rather than an actual student, alumnus, or donor. 

Should there be information on your website for those constituencies? 

Yes. But

The individual people in these audiences almost always begin as prospective students who enrolled through the efforts of enrollment marketing.

Healthy enrollment produces a continual source of students, alumni, and donors in the future. 

That’s why we strongly recommend that your website strategy stay highly focused on enrollment objectives.

Social Media Marketing 

Too often, social media is left to chance, but I believe it should get its own section within the higher ed marketing plan.

Social media campaigns are some of the best ways to drive traffic to your website, landing pages, and gated content

It doesn’t matter how amazing your website is, if no one visits the site, it won’t do any good.

Unfortunately, most people are not searching for your school’s name in their search engine. 

Typically, they will see one of your ads on social media, or they learn about you organically through one of their friends on social media.

So as a traffic generator, social media is one of the most crucial marketing strategies in your plan. 

Email Marketing

Email is not dead, so email marketing must live on in your marketing plan!

This marketing channel is easy to use and has a relatively low cost. 

However, the art of building a list of subscribers of whom a percentage will enroll at your school is an intricate process that needs a solid plan. 

Your email marketing section should outline some important decisions:

  • The lists you’ll send emails to
  • How often you’ll publish email campaigns
  • How many automated email sequences you need to create
  • Where people can sign up for your emails
  • What information you’ll ask for them to sign up for your emails
  • The topics and themes you’ll include over the year in your emails

Video Marketing

As bandwidth and Internet technology has improved, video marketing is an absolute must for digital marketing success. 

Video content engages visitors faster and holds their attention longer than written copy.

Rich content like photography and video also communicates non-verbal messaging like smiles, landmarks, and landscapes in a way written channels simply cannot. 

Besides, you don’t need a massive budget to get your video marketing strategy up and running – it is well within reach of most colleges and universities. 

So video marketing should be one of the marketing strategies included in your plan.

Print Marketing

Like email marketing, print marketing isn’t dead either!

In fact, it could be argued that because digital communications have become so normal, print materials stand out even more than before.

Flyers, brochures, travel pieces, viewbooks, yearbooks, newsletters, magazines – these are all great marketing channels to retainif you have a good plan for them. 

In your print marketing section, be sure to write out which print materials you’ll design and publish throughout the year. 

List their objectives, their audiences, and the type of content you’ll place in each piece. 

Perhaps most importantly, write out how these print materials will be connected to your digital communications.

Influencer Marketing

Lastly, one of the marketing strategies I believe you should have in your marketing plan is influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is a strategy that you use to cultivate relationships with influencers who will be happy to promote your education brand through their channels. 

These relationships could be organic or paid.

An example of organic influencer marketing is when you ask a notable alumnus to mention your school on their social media accounts.  

Paid influencer marketing could be hiring a celebrity to come to your events and speak or perform or paying them to advertise for you. 

One interesting development in influencer marketing that I’ve written about is Cameo.

But probably the best influencer marketing strategy for your plan is to… 

Cultivate relationships with your current students and alumni who are all influencers in their own way on social media. 

In your influencer marketing plan, write out how you can systematically cultivate relationships with influencers among your marketing personas.

Schedule social media takeovers with them. 

Host conversations or interviews with them. Promote their social media channels. 

With the advent of social media, influencer marketing has changed drastically to where any private college or university can really benefit from it without breaking the bank. 

For me, it has become one of the essential marketing strategies to have in your plan.

A good marketing plan incorporates diverse marketing strategies. 

One reason I recommend that all higher ed marketers take the time to create their marketing plan is so they can purposefully incorporate multiple marketing strategies into their efforts.

No good investment plan has only one kind of investment. 

The same is true for marketing. The best marketing plans have a diversity of marketing strategies in them.

Of course, you could put more marketing strategies into your marketing plan if need be, but at the very least, think of putting these seven strategies into your official plan.

For more help on successful marketing strategies for higher education, contact us today!

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