The marketing process for higher education is characterized by a substantial level of customer interaction. Omnichannel platforms can help you cut through the clutter by automating many of those brand touches.
One of the reasons why we at Caylor Solutions are such advocates of automation is because the enrollment process is a high-touch sales process.
I know a lot of people in higher ed sometimes don’t like the word “sales.”
But the reality is that you are selling individuals and families one of the biggest investments they’ll ever make in their life.
It’s an even bigger investment sometimes than the homes they will purchase eventually.
And because of that high-cost investment, enrollment is a high-touch process.
For example, if you consider a search campaign where you’re buying names and then marketing to those individuals to get them to engage with your admissions team, there are lots of touches along the way – even down to the comm flow.
Technology allows us to automate significant parts of that high-touch process.
Basically, marketing automation is letting computers do what they do best: repetitive tasks.
Once your automation is pre-programmed with the right messaging, your admissions team can then focus on the relationship building, the conversations, the high-touch points.
Marketing automation allows you to engage regularly with a lot more people through various marketing channels, without having to expend all of your human resources to do that.
Although automation is such a critical element of successful enrollment marketing, some schools are still on the fringes of it.
Not yet ready to jump in fully, perhaps because of budgetary concerns.
To tell you more about how to leverage automation and personalization in omnichannel platforms, Troy Singer and I spoke with two experts from ThinkPatented, Sean Ferguson, Director of Digital Engagement, and Dan Cornelius, Director of Vertical Markets.
Here are some highlights of that conversation.
Anonymity: The First Level of Automation
The first step into marketing automation begins with social media ads, search engine ads, and other forms of digital marketing.
You don’t see whom you’re reaching, but your marketing platforms are making sure you reach people who are more or less within your target audience.
Dan Cornelius shared:
As an entry level into omni channel [automation] solutions, the first one you’re going to have is a high-level anonymous approach. It’s going to help you broadcast your message across all the different forms of media, but you really won’t know who you’re exactly communicating with. [In this level,] you’re going to have Google display ads online, you’re going to have social media follow up users with ads, and you’re going to automate other touches [within these ad campaigns]. Here is where you’re going to start to know who somebody is, and you can start to personalize and understand who that person is, and then capture information for your future uses.
Each school needs to evaluate what they need to move the needle forward in their admissions process.
For some, they’ll need to start at this first, high-level step.
For others, they might need to invest in marketing automation at a more personal level.
Multiple Levels, Multiple Channels
Besides different technology platforms which allow you to dive into different levels of automation, a good marketing automation solution will also allow you to manage your marketing efforts across various channels.
That’s where the fancy term “omnichannel” comes in.
Omnichannel simply means you are automating multiple levels of “touches” with your prospective audience across many channels.
By sending out your messaging across many channels, you can begin to learn even more about your audience – allowing you to go from anonymous to more personalized messages.
The more personalization you can create in your messaging, the more effective your marketing will be.
Dan sums it up this way:
All of those tools I spoke about are really tools where you’re touching people anonymously. You have identified a group of people in your database, but the communication touch points within your interactions are still anonymous at that point. So what we’re trying to do [with omnichannel automation] is engage them online. Once we get them online, then we can pull them into a more sophisticated platform that will allow us to identify who they are and maybe ask some specific questions about them. [We can] then take that information and personalize the messaging going back out to them [in another offline channel].
In other words, using entry-level automation such as direct mail or digital ads, you can drive traffic to your online channels where you can capture more data on your audience’s behavior.
For example, you could use your direct mail piece to send people to your website.
On your website, you can track a lot of data points from their visit to show you what programs they’re interested in, what concerns they have, and even their socio-economic level.
From your website, you could invite them to sign up for your email newsletter through a landing page, each of these channels has its own suite of metric trackers allowing you to further personalize your marketing messaging.
Discover more when you listen to the podcast!
Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.
- How omni-channel tools let you be smarter with your marketing
- How different channels are leveraged
- Enabling personalization in campaigns through quizzes
- Using lead matching technology to build new audiences
Looking for Enrollment Marketing Content that Works?
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- 25 enrollment marketing content ideas you might never have considered before
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