Schools and companies that provide education products and services need marketing just like all other organizations competing for consumers’ attention. And just as in other sectors, marketing in the education industry requires a fundamental understanding of your target audience, a clear picture of your goals, and organization and persistence. Here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need to achieve cost-effective and potent education marketing.
What Is Education Marketing?
Education marketing is using 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 to 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 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 before you can begin to consider how to market an education focused value proposition to your audiences, you need to consider why it’s important.
Why Is Marketing Important for Educational Institutions and Products?
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.
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.
If your marketing strategy 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 better researched, more balanced, more insightful your marketing materials are, the more likely you can improve your ROI and see lasting results for your business.
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.
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 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.
For businesses who 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, staff rapport, internal communication or other gains.
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.
For companies who 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 a better education. As marketing EdTech becomes more and more competitive, with new companies entering the space regularly, you’ll also want to stress that your products can bring about these benefits without straining school resources or creating a never-ending cycle of accessorizing and professional development.
5 Effective Education Marketing Strategies to Consider
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.
2. Include Digital Advertising in Your Education Marketing Budget
People live 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 brand reach and boost conversions.
3. Create a Responsive and Mobile-friendly Website
In a related point, your website should be optimized for use on mobile devices as well as desktop, since many people viewing your pages will use their tablets or phones to do so. You don’t want to lose those leads just because your website was built on a rigid framework that can’t adapt to mobile formatting.
4. Allow Students to Leave Reviews Online
Recommendations carry a lot of weight in the modern marketing landscape. 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 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.
5. Create Engaging Video Content
The overwhelming majority of online traffic now flows to video. 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 speaking your message in the most powerful way.
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 would 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? 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 the project? 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.
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.
Once you’ve found the right marketing partner, tell them exactly what work you’d like to see done, what 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 onboard 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 along 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?
Th 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.