Higher Ed Marketing in 2017

Beat Post-Election Market Uncertainty with Better Data

December 15, 2016

Higher Ed Marketing

It’s been just a month since the conclusion of a highly polarizing presidential election, and the dust has yet to settle. As many attempt to predict what 2017 will bring, one consistent theme seems to be uncertainty. Nowhere is this more apparent than in higher education marketing. Anticipated dramatic shifts in foreign and domestic policies have wide ranging implications to the university and college marketplace – from tightening immigration regulations for international students to a loosening of government oversight over for-profit higher education institutions.

As marketing professionals we can’t control how the student market will respond to change, but we can focus on proven tools to enhance our marketing intelligence and better inform our recruitment strategies. Leveraging social media platforms like LinkedIn can strengthen your market insights, improve your lead qualification, and make your content marketing strategies even more effective.

First, let’s look at potential market disruptors that could challenge your higher education marketing efforts next year.

2017 Education Market Disruptors

Unsteady Job Market Raises Student Expectations

While post-graduation job placement has always been important, successful student outcomes will play an even larger role if employment rates drop and the job market begins to stumble. Prospective students will become uneasier about their future and will expect – even demand – an immediate return on investment from their degrees.

Recruiting high quality students that are more likely to thrive in class, and be hired after graduation, can benefit your student peer group and boost your school’s reputation. Investing now in understanding and cultivating this target audience using LinkedIn’s valuable data ensures a virtuous cycle of successful alumni leading to more successful students-turned-alumni.

Increase in For-Profit Competition Tightens Market

As the founder of the now defunct Trump University, president-elect Donald Trump may usher in a more favorable business environment for for-profit learning institutions with the possibility of rolling back government regulations, or even eliminating the Department of Education. Such changes could likely make the recruitment field even more crowded among both traditional and online universities and colleges in the coming years.

Highly-ranked schools may not feel an immediate impact, but mid-tier institutions may see attrition in their target audience as they struggle to find a unique selling proposition that distinguishes their brand from others. By carving out a unique brand voice in a crowded marketplace and developing a targeted content marketing strategy, higher education marketing professionals can help defend their territory.

Decrease in International Students Shrinks Prospect Pool

According to the Institute of International Education, more than 970,000 students abroad studied at U.S-based colleges and universities during the 2014-2015 school year, representing a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Potential changes in immigration policy, including a greater restriction on student visas, could significantly hamper this growth and tighten the prospective student pool.  With many graduate programs relying on international students as part of their student population, this also could make competition more intense for quality students.

Social platforms like LinkedIn will play an even more vital role in finding ways to engage with an international student population hungry for answers. Read about how Duke University used Sponsored InMails to target an international audience for their Cross Continent MBA. 

Tech and Teaching Finally Converge

The new year not only ushers in new policy changes, but greater acceptance by the marketplace for learning outside of the classroom including on mobile devices. Technology and higher education have been intersecting over the last several years, and 2017 will bring increased expectations by prospective students for colleges and universities to communicate with them in ways that fit their digital lifestyles.

Finding the right platform to implement your content strategy is key, and social media platforms like LinkedIn allow you to target users based on demographic and behavioral data.  Use LinkedIn to reach the right prospects where you know they spend time improving their professional lives. 

Generating High Quality Leads

A targeted content strategy focused on generating high-quality leads is more important than ever. Using platforms like LinkedIn, with more than 460 million members worldwide, you can identify your best prospects through accurate first-party data based on seniority, company, and industry.  What’s more, in a recent survey of higher education admissions staff, 88% responded they found the most qualified candidates on LinkedIn, followed by Facebook at 35%.

Take a look at the infographic below for more information on how to identify and cultivate meaningful relationships with your target audience through LinkedIn: