Digital marketing in higher education… 5 key points from the trenches

Digital marketing… 5 points important to higher education marketers

Digital marketing in higher education is on my mind as I start preparing for a new series of 2 and 3 hour workshops. To help kick my brain into gear, I prepared an outline of my first thoughts about what to include and sent it to 20 or so people working in a variety of marketing and enrollment management positions in higher education. About 15 sent back a great range of topics to cover. Enough to plan a book. Certainly more than will fit in a single workshop.

As always, different people have different interests and goals. Today I’m listing 5 comments that stood out to me as I read through the responses. Not, certainly, the only important ones and not presented here to suggest order of importance. 
How many of these digital marketing points are on your mind?
1. Social media vs. social media business
  • “Given the decentralized
    nature of higher ed, depending on who your audience is, I think it would be
    helpful to have a discussion of social media vs. social media business. David
    Armano from Edelman
    does a good job describing the distinction on his blog.
    Social media is the actual implementation of it – administering an individual
    Facebook page, for instance. Social media business is what I do – integrating
    all of the individual practitioners, developing social media guidelines,
    linking everyone’s individual pages together, developing strategic planning
    templates, etc.”
2. Media relations in a digital strategy
  • “Media relations is actually an
    important part of search strategy. These things are really connected – and
    because web and media relations teams are often separated in an institution –
    it can be hard for both to understand.
  • “I see media relations teams often
    concentrating on getting “the big hits” in a national publication to the
    expense of their local/regional efforts. But, if one newspaper (even a small or
    mid-size) one runs a release/story on their web site about your programs – then
    people searching for say “online MBA in Ohio” find mentions of your
    university in the news. Not to mention, this just gives your school/program
    that much more exposure in the “ecology” of the web as people share stories.”

3. The peril of contacting people too often

  • “E-burnout via too many messages in your inbox and
    even on Facebook from the same person or organization (is a problem). In the three years we’ve
    been tracking our alumni email blasts and opens, we’ve lost about 6,000
    subscribers because we could not segment the messages.” 

4. Keep a personal, human to human, touch
  • “Don’t hide behind computers/email/social media/video games. Stay personal. High touch still works. Watch out for high tech backlash.”

5. How can we keep some control in a social media world?

  • “I’ve been on the lookout for tools which incorporate
    social media-like experiences into channels over which I have a little more
    control- not to the exclusion of Facebook, YouTube, etc., but in addition to. How can institutions capitalize on the familiarity and popularity of social media without forfeiting all control?”

First digital marketing tutorial: J.Boye Web and Intranet Conference
Look for more notes on digital marketing strategy in the future as the first version of the workshop takes shape. The debut is at the J.Boye Web and Intranet conference in Philadelphia, May 8-10.

New “Writing Right for the Web” Conference in May

The second 2-day “Writing Right for the Web” conference is happening May 24-25 in Atlanta. We’ll explore in depth one key part of a digital marketing strategy: how to best present the content your audiences want on “traditional” websites and in the social media and mobile worlds.

Check the conference details and register to join us in May.

That’s all for now. 

Join me on Twitter at

Subscribe to “Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter” at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *