Schools and companies that provide education products and services need marketing just like all other educational institutions competing for consumers’ attention. And just as in other sectors, marketing in the education industry requires a fundamental understanding of your target audience and a clear picture of your goals and organization. Communications Strategy Group® knows education marketing, so here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need to drive a cost-effective and potent campaign for your organization.

What Is Education Marketing?

Education marketing uses a blend of owned media content (blog posts, your website in general, email newsletters, guest articles, social media posts on your company accounts, etc.) and advertising (probably mostly digital ads), as well as activities that fall under the umbrella of public relations — think pitching stories to journalists or reaching out to influencers for earned media plaudits — to help a school or education product company meet its goals. These goals could be anything from increased enrollment and lead generation to thought leadership or brand solidity.

Choosing schools, or products to serve students is no small matter; it can change the course of their entire lives, particularly when it comes to higher education or graduate students. It makes sense that consumers in the education sector would weigh their options carefully. This makes it all the more important for you to devise your education marketing strategy carefully and execute it with precision. But in order to do so, you must first understand why marketing is important and the value it can drive ‌for education-based organizations.

Why Is Marketing Important for Educational Institutions and Products?

Building Trust

Prospective students or customers who have never heard of you and have no idea what you’re about probably won’t trust you very much, right? Education marketing gets you on the path to greater brand recognition, and as your reputation grows, people may even begin to seek out information about your services without coming in contact with your marketing content directly. Publishing useful, high-quality content will help you position yourself as a leader in the  education industry. In marketing, the sort of trust that follows from that status will make all your marketing efforts down the line more effective.

Building Relationships with Your Company

Your marketing activities are a window into the heart of your company. When you take the time to let people in on your values, origins, distinguishing qualities, etc., they begin to see links with your company that connect your story to theirs. This relationship building is a core reason to pursue education marketing since it leads to a number of downstream benefits like brand loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations. The bottom line is that no matter what, educational products and services are a way for customers to invest in themselves and their future. Cultivating a relationship is essential for consumers to trust your educational institution in helping them further their goals, whether it’s personal growth, entering a new professional industry, moving up in the world or helping their community.

Generating Organic Traffic

Organic traffic most often comes from ranking well in search engine algorithms, and one of the best ways to achieve that is by putting out content that is high-quality, serves users’ needs, and has enough authority to be cited on other well-traveled sites in backlinks.

If you’re marketing your school’s online courses, for example, and search engines are seeing users read the majority of the page, revisit it multiple times, cite it themselves in other places, and so on, your position among schools providing that service is going to rise and more and more people will find your page on their own as they search for remote learning options.

Establishing Thought Leadership

Are you an authority in your space? Great education marketing could make it so. The more people lay eyes on your content, and the higher the quality of that content, the more you will become a resource that they turn to when they have questions related to your industry. Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight, but when you publish pieces consistently  that consider timely issues with expertise from a 360-degree viewpoint, your chances of bringing people into your circle goes way up.

Achieving Cost-Effectiveness

If your education marketing plan goes well, it may pay for itself and then some. This is why it’s better to take the time and allocate the resources necessary for a sound marketing strategy, bringing in outside help if needed than to go live with a lackluster campaign just for the sake of saying you did marketing. The more researched, balanced, and insightful your marketing materials are, the more likely you are to improve your ROI and see lasting results for your business. And what’s more, digital marketing can even be more cost-effective in comparison to traditional marketing methods because it doesn’t require large budgets or a lot of resources.

Marketing Trends for Different Education Products and Services

Education marketing trends come and go, but at the center of this specialty, within the various industry niches (P-12, higher ed, etc.), there are some time-tested strategies that will probably become important at some point over the course of a marketing campaign.

P-12 Education

Preschool through 12th-grade students need a solid learning foundation to set them up for success later in life. A school or company catering to this group could benefit from marketing that establishes authority and trustworthiness and highlights the resources and flexible learning options (in-person, remote, hybrid) available to meet students’ needs.

Higher Education

Higher education institutions need a marketing strategy that can give them a competitive advantage by differentiating them from others in the same space, and attract future students by showcasing their on-campus amenities, culture, traditions of academic excellence and notable alumni.

Corporate Training

For businesses that make corporate training products, the goal of a marketing plan would usually be to convince decision-makers at companies that the training they offer can have a company-wide benefit that lasts, in the form of increased productivity, reduced inefficiencies, better customer service, heightened internal communication or the creation of a workplace environment that encourages collaboration.

Lifelong Learning

Businesses in the lifelong learning industry, like other branches of education, will want to launch marketing campaigns that emphasize the quality of their course catalog, their flexible or asynchronous course formats and online course options, and the overall convenience and effectiveness of their programs, to attract learners who want to enhance their knowledge or professional capability but may already be absorbed in their careers or private lives.

EdTech

For companies that make EdTech products, the single greatest goal of a marketing campaign should be to show prospective buyers, whether that be school superintendents, technology specialists at schools, teachers or others, that their products help provide students with a better education. As the EdTech landscape becomes more competitive with new companies entering the space regularly, you’ll also want to stress that your products can bring about meaningful benefits for students, with a focus on personalized learning and sustainability, which have become increasingly important selling points for EdTech products.

Consider these 5 Effective Education Marketing Strategies

1. Engage Your Audience Through Social Media

Social media can be a powerful way to grow a following and build relationships with your audience. You don’t have to use your accounts to achieve this, either. Influencer outreach could help you tap into followings that others within your field have already built, and give you the kind of favorable earned media coverage that research has shown is more and more replacing traditional advertising. Moreover, social media platforms provide highly specific data, which helps educational institutions not only build targeted campaigns but also gain meaningful insights that can inform marketing strategies going forward.

2. Include Digital Advertising in Your Education Marketing Budget

Teachers, students, parents — almost everyone spends most of their time online now, so whatever other particulars your marketing strategy ends up employing, in almost all cases, you’ll want to include a hefty dose of digital marketing. Paid media ads, social ads, website content and the like can all help you expand your school or company’s brand reach and boost conversions. Ultimately, digital advertising is a powerful way to engage both students and parents at different stages of their customer journey with action-oriented suggestions that match their level of engagement.

3. Create a Responsive and Mobile-friendly Website

On a related point, your website should be optimized for use on mobile devices as well as desktops, since many people viewing your pages may use their tablets or phones to do so. In fact,  67% of mobile users are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly website, making it a tool to improve your bottom line and increase your revenue. You don’t want to lose leads just because your website was built on a rigid framework that can’t adapt to mobile formatting. A website that works well on mobile devices is also more likely to rank higher and be prioritized over other search engine results. Mobile users tend to type keywords instead of searching for a link, so a site that is easy to use on mobile devices can bring in more traffic and sales. A fully optimized website is a way to not only retain the attention of your target audience but also plays an important role in attracting and building trust.

4. Allow Students to Leave Reviews Online

Recommendations carry a lot of weight in the modern marketing landscape. Online reviews are similar to a recommendation from a friend, serving as information that users are likely to act on. More than half of consumers read at least four reviews before making a purchase decision. It’s gotten to the point where a lack of reviews might even signal a lack of credibility to consumers, so if possible you’ll want to have good reviews on full display either in search results or on your own pages. Especially with how competitive the education space is, online reviews can be the divisive factor that pushes consumers to purchase your product over another.

5. Create Engaging Video Content

The overwhelming majority of online traffic now flows to video. A recent study even reflects that videos in higher education marketing have been shown to increase the number of click-through rates by 96% and boost open rates by 5.6%. Having the capability to produce videos in-house, or finding a good marketing agency that offers video marketing services, lets you capitalize on this trend and ensures that you’re conveying your message in the most powerful way. If you’re looking to connect with your audience deeply, tell your story and stand out in a competitive market, video content marketing is a powerful way to do so.

How to Choose an Education Marketing Agency?

If you want help with your education marketing plan (and who could blame you — marketing is complicated), here are the steps you should go through to choose a marketing agency to partner with and bring them into your operation:

Set Your Objectives

Without a sense of where you want to end up, you’re liable to wander the marketing wilderness for a while, on your own dime, without making much progress. Defining your goals in advance will eliminate that inefficiency. Do you want greater enrollment? More sales? More awareness? A higher perceived authority among peers and audiences in your industry? Simply put, without  targeted goals, content is just content. However, content created with a goal behind it is a powerful tool that can move the needle for your business. Once you have these goals set, you’ll be able to clearly communicate your expectations to a marketing partner.

Create a Budget

How much money, and other resources, are you willing to commit to your education marketing plan? Like setting goals, this step helps create parameters you’ll be working within and tells you and your marketing agency what kind of ROI you’ll need to see to make your marketing activities sustainable.

Research Education Marketing Agencies

Look into your options. Do you see positive reviews for the agencies you’re considering? Do they have case studies showing impressive results for companies in your space or with similar goals to yours? Do you think your values align with theirs in a way that would promote a good working relationship? Be critical when evaluating agencies’ self-marketing and don’t be afraid to cross them off your list if something seems off.

Write a List of Questions to Ask

Preparing to meet your prospective partners involves writing down a list of questions that you need answered so that you can stay organized during the actual meeting and get all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Have Meetings

Meet with the marketers you think would be the best fit for you. Ask your questions and record the answers so you can look them over later. Do you get the feeling they know your industry? Do they seem to have education marketing ideas that would translate to your goals? Are they confident without promising too much? Trust your gut and take time to debrief afterward.

Set Expectations

Once you’ve found the right marketing partner, collaborate with them to plan the work that will most effectively help you meet your goals, the timetable you’re using, delegate tasks to their team or yours, and set a schedule for regular campaign updates, status reports, etc. Once everyone agrees about who is responsible for what, and what the campaign parameters are, you’ll be ready to start marketing for your school or education company.

Onboard Your Education Marketing Agency

This is the fun part! Bring your marketing partner on board and start digging into the details of the strategy, messaging and channels that will underlie your marketing campaigns.

FAQs About Education Marketing

How do you market an educational application?

You market an educational application for a product by figuring out what your audience needs, what their pain points are, and then address those concerns in the channels — paid media, social, content marketing — that they are most likely to encounter.

How do I market my educational games?

You market educational games by promoting the educational value of the games, in places where your audience is most likely to congregate.

How do teachers advertise?

Teachers advertise like people in any other industry, through combinations of ads, social media activity, email newsletters, owned content including video, and other tools.

How do you market higher education?

You market higher education by speaking to prospective students through appropriate marketing channels and showing them how your school is equipped to give them the expertise they need for life after graduation.

How can the education industry increase sales?

The education industry can increase sales through education marketing, after conducting audience research, developing messaging, and refining a marketing strategy that lines up with individual company goals.

Develop Your Education Marketing Strategy With CSG

Ready to take your school or education company to the next level of marketing success? Reach out to us and let’s get to work.