During the summer, I attended a handful of conferences focused on higher education and digital marketing. I’ve made a few friends along the way, and I learned that universities of all sizes face common issues:
- Student acquisition and retention
- Measuring offline advertising ROI
- Developing a holistic strategy
Google recently released some staggering numbers showing that potential students are using search to decide which colleges and universities fit their needs. We’re all living in the age of digital consumption, so how can we address the above challenges accordingly?
Think Mobile First
Google reports that 40% of education search queries happen on a mobile device. At Fathom, we see that anywhere from 40% to 70% of all traffic for higher education clients comes from mobile. If your website is not yet responsive, now is the time to make sure it happens.
User experience plays a major role in the research process. If potential students are unable to learn more about your school, they will move on to the next competitor – one that provides a better mobile experience. Also consider your other marketing efforts, such as email. Career guides, financial aid information and any other type of email template should be mobile-friendly.
Look to Year-Over-Year Growth
The Department of Education reported that post-secondary enrollments declined for the first time in 15 years in the fall of 2011. However, education-related search queries grew year-over-year in the first quarters of 2012 and 2013. And not only are more students searching for their schools of choice, but they are also consuming information via social profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
Students are turning to search more than ever. They’re looking for digital content to influence their decisions, and they’re rapidly consuming research-driven content on mobile devices. If we want to reach people through mobile and search in higher education, we have to stay ahead of their digital needs.