You just had a great recruiting year for incoming students at your college or university. You’re called into a planning meeting, and your superiors congratulate you on the success, which spills right into the need to replicate and beat those numbers next year. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone! Marketing teams in industries across the board are operating at full tilt, and It feels like from the top they are screaming for more! More ads, more videos, more blogs, more content — and more activity IS needed to spark this growth. You are ready to roll up your sleeves and take the challenge while you wait for them to drop the unlimited money bag at your feet. Wait – that happens right? Well, the first part is correct: they want more, but the second that includes the windfall of increased or unlimited marketing budget does not. They assume that you can do more, with the same or with less – and you feel stuck.
This is not unique, nor is it hopeless. Marketing automation and a CRM (customer relationship manager) may be your saving grace. It is like having a personal assistant and someone to keep you accountable for relaying content and collecting information from your audience so that you can continue to engage and interact with your prospective students. It will help you meet them where they are via email and social media with a consistent and constant message to keep them engaged through personalization – all with automation.
For example, you meet a few high school sophomores that show interest in your programs at a college fair. It would be great if you could keep in touch, but it is just you and time only allows you to focus on juniors and seniors. Yes, they have a few years to decide, but what if you could put a constant reminder in front of them every so often about how great the programs of interest are and let them know about new and exciting updates? You can learn from the feedback they give you from social feeds as well as when they visit your website to learn more. The more they interact, the more information your system collects, and when prompted, you can reach out and make a personal connection with someone that is very familiar with your institution already and you (or others in your department) have data on them to turn a cold lead into an interested prospective student. It is like having an army behind you to promote and drive interest of the information that you are sending. You may be thinking, “This is all great, but remember that dream that I woke up from that gave me unlimited resources to pursue something like this?”
The great news is that you can do more with less. It may be a matter of reallocating some funds that you spend on traditional marketing, like buying lists, post card mailings, or pamphlets that you end up finding scattered on the floor after a college fair. There are several marketing automation platforms out there that have a zero to minimal point of entry that you can get started with. As with most “freemiums” they have their limitations, but it is a start and if you can show productivity with them initially, asking for dollars to unlock the premium tiers will be more obtainable! A platform like HubSpot will allow you to channel your email communication, blogs, videos and social post through one portal. You can track the engagement that you receive from your content and alter it to meet their needs based on feedback and data. The automation will allow you to handle more prospective students in your funnel at one time and they will feel as if each communication is customized just for them. That data gives you a tangible return on your investment that your administration will applaud and can get behind and finally produce that bag of money to help you expand because they can see the results that you are getting.
Yes, it’s always difficult to produce more when demands increase and budget doesn’t, but marketing is all about bringing in the right strategy to help you work smarter and utilize tools that take the burden off of you.
If you’re interested in learning more about marketing automation and how it applies to higher ed and non-profits, visit our booth at INBOUND 19– we are hosting a panel discussion during the conference on a multi-channel approach to effective marketing and recruiting campaigns. Not sure what INBOUND is? Check out 5 Reasons Inbound is a Must for Marketers. We hope to see you there!