How Can Universities Modernize Their Marketing Strategies?

QS Digital Solutions, an international higher education network, released on Tuesday a new report analyzing key trends surrounding the digital marketing strategies of universities worldwide.

The report is described as being the first of its kind, and seeks to establish the strategic decisions university marketing teams are making regarding their digital practices.

It also aims to establish and assess 2016 trends within the digital marketing space for higher education professionals.

The key findings of the report shared with MMW include:

  • Email remains the most-used digital channel by higher education marketers, with 73% of respondents citing email among their most-used digital channels;
  • University marketing teams are devoting efforts to reaching students on younger media platforms: 70% of respondents cite social media among their top five most-used digital channels;
  • These two platforms are followed by website design and optimization, named by 61.8% of participants;
  • 32.9% intend to focus the highest proportion of their attentions to website design and optimization, more than for any other channel;
  • 25.9% of respondents cite website design and optimization as the most successful of all their digital marketing techniques in 2015;
  • These findings show that marketers are generally in sync with their student audiences, and the report indicates generally successful strategic planning by digital marketing teams at tertiary institutions;
  • Almost half (46%) of respondents expect their digital budgets to increase year-on-year in 2016;
  • However, the most frequent constraint reported by digital marketers is budget; 37.6% of respondents expect this to be their main constraint this year, followed by lack of resources (27%);
  • Finally, Asia is generally a key target market for university recruiters, with more respondents citing it as a high priority than any other region, and indicating that digital marketing is on the rise in terms of scope as well as spending for 2016.

“The move towards website optimization as a means of improving student recruitment – unsurprisingly the primary motive for using digital marketing channels – can be perceived as a direct result of students increasingly using mobile and tablet devices to research and interact with universities,” a provided statement reads. “Previous research conducted by QS Digital Solutions show numerous candidates struggling to find the information they need online; consequently, students report being ‘unable or unwilling’ to apply to an institution as a result. With this in mind, the report’s findings indicate that digital marketing departments worldwide are recognizing the desires and demands on their student audience, and are responding accordingly. “