DIGITAL MARKETING FOR COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES & ORGANISATIONS
Developing An Effective Online Presence For Your College Or University (Part 1 of 3)
In a 3-part blog post we hope to give some insights and practical advice for ensuring your website is more than just an online prospectus, helping your college, university or education/training organisation to develop a healthy reputation online.
From deciding how your college or university website will function, to making sure your content is convincing, here are some fresh ideas for giving your website a strong and distinctive identity on the web.
Working Out Your Strategic Objectives
Your website can do much more for your college or university than a printed prospectus can ever achieve.
A great website is one that is up to date, ever-changing and full of evidence that the college or university community is thriving. In fact, the more dynamic your website is, with evidence of the day-to-day events at your institution or organisation, the more engaging your site will be for prospective students and parents.
Your website can be more than just a prospectus with informative or interactive features and functionality such as:
- An induction area for new parents and students joining the community;
- Special interest Blogs and News (with RSS feeds);
- Liking, Following, Commenting, Sharing and Bookmarking;
- Multimedia (features, reports and reviews);
- Showcasing of activities and events (such as plays, guest lectures and sports);
- Recent quotes and posts from students and teachers;
- Calendars for parents, staff and students;
- Booking forms and payment system for activities and events;
- Social media, Polls and Surveys;
- An alumni area for former students.
Deciding What Makes Your Institution/Organisation Different
Developing a strong identity involves research, consideration and some healthy debate.
FIRST… you need to understand who you are targeting, their interests, their behaviour, their needs, their ambitions.
Through understanding them better you can communicate with them and engage them more effectively, intellectually and emotionally. It is very unlikely you are a good representation of your target audience!
As an exercise try creating pen portraits/characterisations of your different target audiences, working with colleagues and others. Step out of your shoes and into the shoes of all the different prospective students and parents out there. Consider:
Description – describe a prospective student (and/or parent) – their location, age, sex, family and work interests, their responsibilities, what excites them etc… give them a name!
Using Digital – consider how they use digital… what do they do online, how do they connect, what role does technology and digital play in their lives.
Needs – 10 ‘needs’ or requirements they have in choosing a college, university or education/training organisation. (Think beyond the standard, general, expected… what particular needs might they have… that might sway their decision in choosing your “good” College over another “good” College?)
Searching – what 10 search terms might they use when looking for an education/training institution or organisation? Consider those special interests and needs they have, beyond the standard…
The ‘Pitch’ – if you had 130 characters (20-25 words) to ‘pitch’ to them… how would you do it… keeping those needs and search terms in mind… pitch to them directly… not to the bland, generic “everyday student” or parent, agent, opinion former or other. (This is your “Meta description” for SEO.)
SECOND… conduct surveys and polls to find out what existing students (and their parents and other influencers) looked for when they researched options online, what was their experience of your website and online presence and how did it compare to your competitors, what do they see as your major assets (now that they know you better) and do they think you presented them effectively online? What would they like to see on your website for prospective students and parents, agents and others? (Consider how commercial companies like Coca-Cola, Nike and Nestle have to pay for focus groups… you have much easier and less expensive access to your ‘customers’!)
THIRD… it is helpful to carry out your own regular review not only of your college or university’s web presence but also that of your competitors. Who are you competing with now? Who would you like to be competing with in the future? It is helpful to map competitors, to compare and contrast. What is it that makes your college, university or education/training organisation truly different from them?
Once you have a better picture of your target audiences you will be much better positioned to develop your online presence to attract, excite, engage and convert them from prospective to current students and other influencers.
Part 2 follows soon…
HAVE YOU BOOKED? Book now to attend the Click-Recruit-Enrol Conference next month in Central London – either CREPre-18 on Thursday 20 June 2013 (for those targeting Pre-18) or CREPost-18 on Friday 21 June 2013 (for those targeting Post-18).
return to recent news