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Advertising for Enrollment 101 Posted on Thursday, December 7 in Increasing SalesBinghamtonElmiraIthacaRegional.

As fictional high school senior, Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Thirty years later, high school (and life) are moving faster than ever—and students are experiencing much of it through their smartphones and tablets. In fact, 43% of potential college students report using a mobile device for all of their web browsing. (i)

Take a lesson

With this dramatic generational shift, just having a website isn’t enough. These days, the Internet is literally at our fingertips. Prospective students are swiping through pages on their mobile devices. And institutions can’t expect them pinch to zoom their way through. To reach this demographic, websites must be mobile optimized.

But having a website is only half the battle (probably less). The first step is to drive traffic to these websites. And a digital message calls for a digital strategy.

Don’t fall behind

Today, if institutes of higher education are not advertising in the digital space, they’re not reaching their target audience—potential students. “We’re in massive flux in terms of what’s going on in higher education,” said Robert Rosenbloom, president and chief executive of CollegeWeekLive. “Many schools don’t have the necessary marketing skills and technological skills to really meet the students where they are.” (ii)

Digital reach makes the grade

Digital strategy starts with a digital presence that includes websites, search, reputation management, social media, email—and yes, digital advertising. But before investing, colleges and universities must make sure:

  • Messaging is optimized for mobile.
  • Content is up-to-date and relevant.
  • Websites are optimized for search.
  • Social networks are relevant and well maintained. [link to Social Media Landscape]
  • Lists are up-to-date and targeted.

Do the research

Once the digital presence is in place, then it’s time to look at digital adverting, which can include ad networks, PPC, and social. The most important part of digital strategy isn’t the content of the ads or even where they are placed—digital is all about targeting, tracking, and analytics. Simply put, digital marketers much be educated and nimble to reach the right audience at the right time. Whether it’s a dynamic ad on a news site or a sponsored post on Facebook or Instagram, the message only matters if it’s tailored to the people most likely to see it.

Digital is just part of a larger curriculum

Higher education marketing calls for a multipronged approach because deciding on which college or university to attend is a multigenerational decision. More traditional advertising methods still attract parents, including mail, newspaper, billboard, and television. (iii) The difference today is that institutions need to diversity their media mix to get the attention of prospective students.

Kent State University has seen success by doing just that. In a recent interview, David Garcia, associate vice president for enrollment management, said: “We have a strong marketing campaign to reach out to students from sophomore on up. We have analytics that will give us more information about what students are doing. Are they opening their e-mails? Are they clicking on certain parts of the web page? We look at the whole picture. How are students finding us and where are they going?” (iii)

We can get you to the head of the class

Need to go back to school to learn how to attract potential students? We] can help. We’d love to talk more – contact us or by call 607.798.1325


i OmniUpdate January 2014 Lance Merker

ii The Washington Post, “College admissions chiefs worry: How will students find them?” By Nick Anderson September 19, 2014


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