Chief marketing officers say more buy-in on digital is needed from institutional comms offices
- In a survey of nearly 400 higher ed administrators from around the globe, 26% reported "high" levels of dissatisfaction with how their college or university funds digital marketing. The survey, conducted by higher ed digital marketing platform TERMINALFOUR, also indicated that 41% of respondents noted the digital marketing team at their schools had increased in the past two years.
- The survey, which covered 333 different institutions, also found that 26% of respondents reported digital marketing funding had increased at their schools in the previous year. However, 16% reported that the budget for digital marketing had actually dropped in the previous year, 5% more than last year.
- There was a 9% increase in those who said that student recruitment was seen as the primary organizational goal in constructing the web strategy for schools, up to 89% this year, with form submissions being viewed as the most important barometer for online success, with 37% reporting as such (a 6% increase from 2016).
An investment in digital is critical to institutions hoping to make inroads with previously underrepresented student applicant populations who rely more heavily on social media and digital marketing to learn about higher ed in comparison to their peers. With the trend of static or declining digital media budgets unlikely to change significantly, social media teams need to consider the strategies which have proven beneficial for other institutions. For universities like Baylor and Texas A&M, this has included posts concerning sports and campus life as well as humorous posts that engage the reader and request responses.
As nontraditional student groups, particularly adult learners, become a larger percentage of the student population enrolled in colleges and universities, institutions must also make sure that their social media usage is appropriately targeted as much as resources and staffing permit. Higher ed institutions looking to reach out to adult learners to combat a projected decline in the number of high school graduates in certain regions will need to emphasize the efficiency and speed of attaining a degree or credential at the institution, which will be attractive to adult potential students who have other commitments. It's critical that social media be used for two-way communication, not simply to push out information, and resources and staff should be allocated to individually responding to questions and concerns directed from all corners, whether by direct e-mail or via social media replies. This type of attentiveness to questions posed by applicants may increase the possibility that that student applicant will remember that institution positively when making their decision on where to enroll.