The higher education marketing landscape is changing. Why? Online learning.
People of all ages are embracing cost-friendly digital courses to learn new skills that can help them navigate today’s evolving world of work. From major colleges and universities to online education giants to newer nondegree providers, institutions of all kinds are grappling for a share of this lucrative market—packing even more players onto what was already a crowded playing field. As competition soars, education providers (both traditional and emerging) must be bolder and more innovative when looking to connect with prospective students in 2023.
And where better to start than TikTok, the social app of the moment and a favorite tool of Gen Z (a crucial audience segment for this industry)? When advertising on TikTok, keep in mind that you will want to reframe the way you think about creative—steer away from making an ad, per se, and instead craft content that feels organic to the platform. You’ll also want to tap into the value of student ambassadors. Find students at your institution who are already making great content and let them do some of the creative work for you. Once you have your content strategy in place, put a paid media campaign behind it to maximize impact and ensure it reaches the right audience.
Speaking of which: don’t forget to target parents and education-related influencers like guidance counselors and coaches. And remember to adjust your messaging for each audience—for instance, for parents, focus on value-driven factors such as career services, job placement rate at graduation, financial aid, and/or scholarship opportunities. Then in terms of recruiting graduate students, one of the biggest barriers to enrollment is the cost of tuition, so consider targeting prospective students who have built-in financial assistance. One way to do this? Geo-fence the corporations in your city that offer tuition reimbursement to their employees.
Next, think full-funnel media strategy. Paid search and Meta remain the top conversion drivers for colleges tracking form fills (i.e. campus visit registrations, application starts, etc.). But when it comes to upper funnel platforms, which drive search demand and fuel the retargeting pool, focus on Snapchat and TikTok for undergraduate programs and LinkedIn for graduate programs.
Finally, programmatic advertising is still a surefire bet. Social media platforms are slowly removing targeting options (most notably Meta), but you can make up for that by serving programmatic ads to your hyper-targeted audiences, and then retargeting the users who engage with those ads (and their lookalikes) on other platforms.
Want to learn about some of the macro trends affecting digital marketing more generally? Check out our 2023 Trends Report to stay ahead of the curve as you plan for the year ahead.