What can the education sector learn from Marketing Week Live?

Like thousands of other marketers, I visited the Marketing Week Live conference at London Olympia in March. I had my list of sessions in hand eager to learn and left re-energised ready to implement my new findings.

As the conference covers all sectors it got me thinking what aspects were truly relevant for the education sector. I have narrowed it down to four main areas:

1) Marketing is moving inbound

The consensus I gained from all the sessions that I attended is that inbound marketing is the way forward. With so much information readily available at their fingertips, all consumers (students included) are now in the driving seat when it comes to making decisions.

Inbound marketing moves us away from disruptive methods of contacting prospective students. Instead it encourages us to create useful content that students can find to help them.

It urges you to think about who your prospective students really are and what would appeal to them. It also encourages you to ascertain what stumbling blocks would stop them from attending your university.

Create blog posts, website content and social media messages that answer their questions and help them make that all-important final decision.

Check out this guide from Hubspot for a comprehensive overview.

2) Video is the future

By 2021 it is estimated that video will account for 70% of social media. This incredible stat from Ericsson’s Mobility Report means that you cannot afford to ignore video. As TV took over radio, mobile is now taking over TV and video is a huge part of this.

When creating video be sure to build for mobile first and keep the following in mind:

  • Capture attention quickly: your audience will be scrolling so provide something compelling straight away to keep them interested
  • Design for sound off: the majority of mobile feeds are viewed with the sound off. Use captions so that your followers can understand your video
  • Where possible show your brand upfront: if your viewers are going to scroll, make sure they have at least seen your brand first

In the future video will move to 360-degree, augmented reality and virtual reality creating even more reasons to be involved.

Here are some more tips from Facebook on creating eye-catching videos.

3) Recommendation tops traditional adverts

A very interesting stat that came out of the session ‘marketing with your consumers not at them’ was this:

83% of consumers trust recommendation over advertising

This reiterated what I heard in an earlier session about how consumers tend to opt out of being advertised to:

86% skip TV ads

81% unsubscribe to emails

44% of direct mail is unopened

In the education sector we are already aware of the importance of recommendation and it is a great reminder that your students are your biggest advocates. This leads me nicely on to my next point:

4) Your students are ‘micro-influencers’

We all know the importance of word-of-mouth recommendation and ‘micro-influencers’ bring this same idea to the social media platform. Micro-influencers typically have over 3,000 social media followers and post regularly about a specific theme.

There will be many students who fall into this category and will be important advocates in recommending your university to prospective students.

Including your micro-influencers at the heart of your marketing campaigns will provide a stronger message for prospective students based on trusted referrals from real people.

I am looking forward to putting these new findings into practice and hope you will also get a lot out of these tips to empower your current students and help prospective ones make informed decisions.

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Laura Dicken

Laura Dicken

Marketing Executive, i-graduate and the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education

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