Jon Leighton, Director, Land Digital

In the education sector, brand messaging has a crucial part to play in attracting learners and building a reputation worth having - particularly for business and institutions in especially crowded local or online markets.

Love to learn Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

For those educational enterprises looking to give their brand marketing that added edge, Jon Leighton at Land Digital will be sharing some expert online marketing insights to reveal the effective secret weapons that will appeal to both students and their parents.

From the whats, hows and whens of digital content marketing to the various golden rules of learner engagement, this piece aims to provide a greater understanding of the true value of knowledge and the power it can wield in the marketing world.

1. Harness the power of video marketing

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Visual content formats such as video can be a highly powerful tool to use when it comes to attracting prospective learners, particularly as figures show that 68% of people now use video as their preferred choice for researching products or services.

Easily digestible and accessible to the end user, videos offer the perfect way to explain your institution’s services through explainer videos - allowing the user to visualise exactly what you do and potentially imagine themselves being a part of this. While explainer videos are the backbone of video marketing, this medium can be used in other ways, too, including vlogs (video blogs), student testimonials and commercial advertising.

Another benefit of video marketing is its versatility when it comes to conveying multiple marketing messages to different target demographics. For instance, most educational organisations aren’t looking to appeal only to students - they also need to gain the buy-in of the parents. With a slick promotional video, there’s the opportunity to layer your messages, ensuring your video content creates a positive impression with both audiences simultaneously.

Whether you create a short, punchy commercial in the lead up to school admission deadlines or a captivating campus tour for your homepage, harnessing the power of video marketing is vital to generating interest in an age of complete digital immersion.

2. Maximise word-of-mouth

A fundamental part of brand buy-in within any sector is building a level of trust with your target demographic, which can be hard to gain solely through promotional online marketing. To bolster efforts, many schools and other educational institutions are making use of the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing in the form of student testimonials that provide a genuine and honest review of their services - which goes towards building that element of trust with prospective pupils.

In the industry, these pieces of user-generated content can be incredibly powerful, as, just like online reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, they’re opinions and experiences from real people, making them inherently more relatable and trustworthy.

Of course, customer testimonials aren’t a new concept - but for educational enterprises looking to take this to the next level, encouraging past and present students to share their content through social media channels like Instagram and Snapchat will really resonate with a younger audience - whether this involves sharing photographs from an open day or everyday snapshots of life on campus.

3. Channel your social side

With an estimated 42% of the global population using social media, it’s unsurprising that this medium offers immense potential reach when it comes to brand marketing, particularly with regards to younger demographics.

For schools and universities, it’s important to understand how to use these platforms most effectively to engage with the right audience and add value to their interactions with you. Naturally, social media provides the perfect way to instantly reach people with campus news, course updates and other essential information.

However, there are other ways to offer a more holistic, value-adding service to students, such as online Q&A sessions with teachers and students - giving parents and students the chance to ask those burning questions and get a quick response.

What works for popular high-street brands can work for educational enterprises, too. In addition to the above, why not also utilise the power of influencer marketing, reaching out to reputable individuals who have large followings on social media that are made up of your desired demographic?

Asking influential marketers to share your content or become a brand ambassador can provide a highly effective way to engage with a younger audience comprising of digital natives. These influencers not only reach a wider audience, but also bring a genuine and trustworthy aspect to the brands they work with, which is perfect for maximising learner engagement.

4. Make sure your brand’s mobile-friendly

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Finally, with figures suggesting that 86% of 12 to 18 year olds now use a mobile phone, it’s essential that all of your online marketing efforts are mobile-friendly:

  1. Firstly, start by ensuring you have a responsive website that can be used seamlessly on smartphones and tablets - after all, it’s highly likely that a significant proportion of students will be accessing your site via their smartphones. Prioritising the user experience in this respect will guarantee visitors to your site can easily navigate the site to find the relevant information they need quickly.
  2. Secondly, with any promotional activity you run - from email marketing campaigns and blog posts to social media advertising - make sure any content is optimised for mobile and, of course, promoted on the right platforms where your desired users will be spending their time (such as YouTube or Snapchat).

Whether you’re an online educational enterprise or a traditional campus institution, we hope these insights will provide you with plenty of ideas on how to bolster your online marketing efforts to attract prospective students and build a worthy reputation in the process.

Jon Leighton is the Director of Land Digital, a full-service digital agency providing made-to-measure marketing, design and development solutions to help businesses in the UK solve their commercial problems.

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