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HIGHER EDUCATION MARKETING


FILTERING THE SIGNAL FROM THENOISE


by Hafez Adel and Adam Chickman O


NLINE MARKETING: PAST VS. PRESENT Marketing, and advertising


in particular, is a tool to help consumers cope with an overabundance of choice. Done properly, online marketing allows people to filter the signal from the noise and helps them make deci- sions. Since selecting a university is one of the most monumental decisions a per- son can make in their life, it follows that schools should do everything they can to get their brand in front of students. The old model of higher education marketing was


focused on attention and awareness. With over 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States, it’s extremely difficult for a school to get on an applicant’s radar, espe- cially if they are not a nationally recognized brand. Schools relied upon direct mail, e-mail marketing and online display advertising to spread awareness among high school students and hopefully expand their applicant pool as a result. However, there are two major limitations to this


approach. First, the majority of the aforementioned meth- ods are outbound only, and do little to capture students’ attention as they research schools and browse related topics. Second, higher education marketing has been mainly focused on recruitment, with scant attention paid to engaging students for retention or keeping them involved with the school as alumni. This article will propose a new model for higher


education marketing, one based in the principles of dis- covery and engagement, and will discuss how schools of all sizes can leverage online marketing tools to increase recruitment, improve retention and strengthen their alumni relations.


RECRUITMENT There have never been more ways for a school to get a


2 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 | TODAYSCAMPUS.COM 2


prospective student’s attention. Whether used together or in isolation, the following meth- ods can help raise a school’s online visi- bility and expand its application pool.


SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO): Search engines are the number one resource for students researching schools, as well as a top source of organic (i.e., non-paid) traffic for most websites, so taking the time to optimize a site for SEO will help drive more visitors to the site and increase awareness of your school. Though the


exact formula for how search engines rank websites is a closely-guarded secret, there are some general guidelines that can be applied to any site:


 Be Relevant—Search engines pride themselves on delivering relevant and useful results for users’ search queries. Select which keywords you’d like your school’s site to target, and take the time to interweave those keywords throughout your website’s text.


 Build Backlinks—The more websites that link to your site, the better your search ranking. Reach out to educational blogs, directories, and partner sites to increase the number of inbound links coming to your site, and watch your ranking climb in the search engine results.


SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING (SEM) & DISPLAY ADVERTISING: Paid can generate substantial traffic to your school’s site. The key is to determine the appropriate mix of search engine and display advertising to reach the right audiences and maximize your ad spending.


SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING (SEM): Search engine mar- keting allows you to place text ads next to search results containing specific keywords. For example, if you’d like to serve ads only to those students who have searched for


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