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Turning Numbers Into Narratives With Data-Driven Marketing

Data-driven decision making is all the rage, but despite our best intentions, many of us still struggle to turn numbers into meaningful, actionable insights.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Ken Reaves, director of research and strategic projects at Southeastern University. Ken has more than 15 years of experience in the field of institutional research, and he was eager to share his insights on how schools can make their data more compelling and actionable. Here are a couple of key takeaways from our discussion. Continue Reading

Messiah College: A CRM Success Story

For higher ed marketers, prospective students are really prospective customers. It comes as no surprise then, that in recent years colleges and universities have rushed to adopt the customer relationship management (CRM) tools that have long been used by other industries to centralize and streamline their communications.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Kris Hardy from Messiah College, a small, private, Christian institution located in Central Pennsylvania. As Messiah’s director of web and digital marketing, Kris oversees the college’s public-facing website and is responsible for managing digital marketing efforts for the school’s academic programs.

Since Messiah moved to a CRM system two years ago, Kris says the platform has grown to play an increasingly important role in his work as a digital marketer. During our interview, he detailed how making the switch to a CRM has helped Messiah take their digital marketing efforts to the next level, outlined the challenges his team encountered post-rollout and shared a few of the things they learned as a result. Here’s an abridged version of our conversation:

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Digging Deeper With Attitudinal Research

Demographic research can provide some very useful information about your target audience, but it definitely doesn’t tell the whole story. Recently, we spoke with researcher Susan Baier to find out what higher ed marketers can gain from looking at a different type of data.

Susan is the owner and founder of Audience Audit, a marketing research firm specializing in custom attitudinal segmentation research. She has more than three decades of experience in the marketing industry but, for the last ten years, her focus has been helping clients cultivate stronger marketing strategies based on insights gained through custom research. Here are a couple of interesting soundbites from our discussion.

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A Non-Invasive Approach to Website Governance

Website governance is a challenging topic in any large organization, and colleges and universities are no exception. That challenge is only amplified when those who most need to exercise control over a website lack the resources or political support necessary to enforce effective governance policies and procedures.

But that doesn’t have to leave you dead in the water, especially not if Shelley Keith has anything to say about it. Shelley, a higher ed industry veteran and senior strategist at Modern Tribe, has an alternative approach, which she was kind enough to share with us in a recent podcast episode. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.

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The Prospective Student Journey is Overrated, and Other Things We Learned From Chris Aarons

I recently had the pleasure of talking about digital transformation and higher education with Chris Aarons, co-author of the WSJ best-selling book, The Digital Helix. Chris is an accomplished marketer with no shortage of bold opinions on how professionals in higher ed can get the most out of technologies like AI, big data and automation. We covered a lot of territory, from how he was able to spot the one school that clearly “gets digital” while sifting through hundreds of direct mail pieces sent to his son (7:00), to what schools can learn from Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad (15:20).

Below are just a handful of the insights I got from our conversation.

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Duplicate Content: Menace or Meh?

We’ve all seen it. Within otherwise peaceful groups, there can arise certain differences of opinion that are instantly polarizing: Coke or Pepsi. The oxford comma. How to pronounce “gif.”

In the SEO world we have quite a few debates like that, and one of our most hot-button issues is duplicate content.

Clients often ask, “Is duplicate content something we really need to worry about?”

As with so many things in life, the answer isn’t black and white. While duplicate content isn’t as bad as some shady SEO practitioners make it out to be, it’s certainly not as good as those selling duplicate content claim—and rarely is it part of a great businesses marketing strategy.

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The Secret Ingredient for Recruitment Content that Captivates

Segmentation and personalization are excellent engagement tactics for higher ed marketers because they allow you to tailor your messaging around the things your audience cares about most.

But, while speaking to your audience about the right things is important, a truly robust marketing strategy considers how you should speak to them too. Continue Reading

Segmentation: Your Key to Tailor-Made Messaging

Keeping communication relevant and personalized throughout the entire decision-making process is a critical objective for higher education recruiters.

But how do we speak authentically to multiple groups of students without it becoming an overwhelming task?

One solution: segmentation and marketing automation. Continue Reading

Why Personalization is a Must in Higher Ed Marketing

Imagine you’re at a drive through, hungry and ready to order lunch. An employee comes over the speaker and starts explaining why you should order lunch at their restaurant instead of the one down the street, then demands to know what sauce you want with your nuggets—even though you don’t eat meat!

That wouldn’t make any sense, right? You’ve obviously already chosen this restaurant, so further convincing isn’t necessary. And presuming to know your order before you’ve even uttered a word? Well, that’s just foolish. Continue Reading

4 Game-Changing Questions to Put Your Digital Marketing On Track

Digital marketing elicits more shiny-object syndrome than any other set of marketing tools. Here's how to make sure you're not wasting your time.

The digital marketing space changes at a blindingly fast pace. And while being on the look out for the next big thing is an important part of the game, it’s always good to tap the brakes on that impulse every now and then to make sure you’re not blindly wasting your time. Continue Reading