Marketing is both very broad and very specific. There are of course marketing best practices that apply to almost every company demographic, there are also specific best practices for different subjects and company purposes. Higher education, for instance, comes with a specific set of marketing rules to follow.


Because it deals with education, and sometimes directly with government entities, higher education platforms can’t always market in the traditional ways that B2B and B2C businesses can. Just like other business areas, higher education even comes with its own marketing trends.


For traditional colleges, the first semester of the year may have already begun so your marketing for this season is out of the way. However, it’s always important to think about the next semester and the next after that, and non-traditional education platforms (like certification programs or online courses) can market year-round.


During your next higher education marketing meeting, bring up these five questions to ensure your success for any further marketing schemas you create this year.




1. Where can we get more information?


Many typical B2B and B2C companies can just go on marketing blogs like HubSpot and get some great best practices and information about how to market to consumers. It’s not to say that higher education platforms can’t do the same and still get ideas and usable info, but the scope of these blogs are limited to mostly B2C companies. Higher education platforms need influencer information and best practice resources from somewhere else.


Online resources of course exist, but you really want to go the extra mile. Here are five different conferences for higher education with a marketing scope that are coming up this year; the first being held in mid-March.


2. Who do we want to market to?


Unlike paper towels or dish soap, you can’t sell college to everyone. While almost anyone can theoretically attend college, there’s not a lot of market out there for kid brainiacs or the elderly crowd that want to try again at earning a degree. Most college marketing targets an age demographic of about 16 (early college interest) to 35 (working parents who want to better their lives). Anyone outside of this demo is generally not on the table.


Still, how you market to this age range is very broad — can you market college to a 16-year-old the way you would to a working mother in her upper 30s? No, and it makes sense as to why you can’t. These two different hypothetical people are in very different places in life, and you have to decide who you want to focus on.


3. How up to date is our information?


One gripe that many students have about college admissions website is that their information is very outdated, in both a literal and general sense. First, make sure that you’re showing statistics with the most up-to-date data present on the site. Second, consider creating two different school sites if you haven’t already. One should be more collegiate in nature, informative and run by staff. The other should be more student-based and explain things in a way that college students can identify with.


4. What mistakes did we make in 2016?


Examine your analytics from 2016 — what successes did you find? What failures did you suffer from?


Here we focus on what you did wrong, and let’s say that arguably the answer is “nothing.” There was no one tweet or content piece that did poorly and no scandals shook your halls, be they online or literal slabs of brick and mortar. Look instead at your marketing endeavors that didn’t do as well as the others. Why didn’t they? What could you do in 2017 that you didn’t do in 2016? How do you examine these lesser-performing marketing moves and make them more successful in this new year?

5. How do we duplicate our success?


Now look at what you did right. Whether it was tweet more and bring in more self-activating students in a different age group or get your online campus more visibility within your target demographic, these are successes to champion…but they’re also successes to duplicate.


But maybe you don’t want to exactly duplicate them; you don’t need to focus so heavily on target demographics anymore. The tricky part of this situation is modifying success so that it can be used in various situations.


Pick apart your analytics data until you have it down to the very bare bones — what makes you successful? How can this success be considered across all marketing checkpoints and not just one of them?


Looking for more ideas? Learn the impact of positive versus negative marketing on the effectiveness of a higher education marketing campaign.