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Multichannel Marketing in Higher Education – Why it Works and 3 Real Examples

By Ivan Boychuk on October 27, 2020
    
	The number of higher education opportunities for students continues to climb with every passing year. This makes it more difficult for students to decide which school they would like to go to.

It also makes it hard for universities, colleges, and other institutions to stand out from the crowd.

In order to do so, you need a solid marketing strategy that allows you to share your message with the right prospects.

A multichannel marketing approach has been proven to be an effective way to boost enrollment, donations, and awareness for schools across North America. In this post, we’ll share some of the key benefits of multichannel marketing for higher education institutions.

We’ll also look at some real examples of multichannel marketing at work in the higher-education space!

Benefits of Multichannel Marketing for Higher Education Institutions 

1. Connect With Students Through Their Favorite Channels

You’ve probably heard the saying: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While this familiar adage can be applied to many areas of life, it’s particularly helpful when trying to understand the advantages of multichannel marketing. One of the best things about a multichannel marketing approach is that it doesn’t limit you to just one medium, platform, or channel. Instead, it allows you to connect with students through all of their favourite channels. This is extremely important because it takes an average of eight touchpoints to convert a prospect into a customer/student. If you’re active on more channels, you have more opportunities to create these touchpoints. Here are a few of the different channels that can be included in a multi-channel marketing strategy:
  • Social media
  • Direct mail
  • Personalized landing pages
  • Blog posts
  • Paid ads
  • Email
Diversifying the marketing channels you use helps to prevent disaster. For example, if you only rely on one channel, there’s no guarantee that it will be around forever. Many businesses have been left reeling after placing all of their faith in a single social media platform, only to have their marketing strategy decimated by an algorithm update or public interest shifting to a new platform.

2. Create Personalized Messaging to Increase Conversion Rates

Multichannel marketing also allows you to create highly personalized messages that can help increase conversion rates. Based on the data you collect, you can tailor a campaign to a specific group of prospects based on their interests, demographics, or their current stage in the buyer’s journey. There is an abundance of research that supports the effectiveness of a personalized approach to marketing.
  • 87% of consumers surveyed say that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about a brand.
  • 63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant.
  • 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions the consumer has had with the brand.
However, while personalization is a key factor in any successful marketing campaign, it’s important to respect your prospects’ privacy. Using their name, demographics, and interests is alright, but anything more than that and you risk turning them away. A reputable marketing service provider can help you understand where to draw the line between personalization and just plain creepy.

3. Automated Systems Decrease Student Acquisition Costs 

One of the best ways to get a leg-up on your competitors is to increase the ROI of every marketing dollar you spend. If your cost-per-enrollment is cheaper than other schools, you’ll be able to attract more students while spending the same amount of (or less) money as your competitors. Also, in addition to cutting costs, an automated marketing system buys you time. Instead of weighing down your employees with daily marketing tasks, they will be free to focus on other opportunities for your school. The beauty of this approach is that the longer you use it, the more efficient it becomes. As you collect data from your prospects, you’ll be able to tweak your marketing strategy and make small improvements that compound over time.

4. Data Helps You Refine Your Marketing Strategy

Data is one of the most important aspects of a multichannel marketing strategy. As the amount of data you have grows, so too does the level of personalization in each of your marketing campaigns. This means that each successive campaign will have a better chance of bringing in leads than the last, and will likely yield higher conversion rates. Here’s what V12, a leader in online marketing has to say about the importance of using data in marketing: “Data enables marketers to pinpoint the exact moment a message is most relevant to a consumer. People receive between 300 and 3000 marketing messages a day, but can only retain a maximum of three – if you’re not serving personalized content at the most relevant, receptive moment for that consumer, you’re wasting resources and losing opportunities.”

5. Gain a Competitive Advantage Over Other Schools

A multichannel marketing approach can help you stand out from the crowd and catch the eye of prospective students. For example, if most other schools are only using one or two marketing channels, you have a prime opportunity to jump ahead of them by using three, four, or even five channels to capture students’ attention. This makes sense because today most young adults are active on at least three platforms. So now that you understand exactly how your higher education institution can benefit from multichannel marketing, let’s take a look at a few real examples of multichannel marketing at work!

3 Multichannel Marketing Case Studies in Higher Education

Example 1 - Dearne Valley College

The Goal

The application process for colleges allows people to apply for six different educational institutions at one time. While this is nice for the student, it often results in a large number of “no shows” for interviews at colleges because students have already enrolled at another institution. Dearne Valley College wanted to increase the number of prospective students attending their interviews.

The Multichannel Marketing Approach

Here are the steps that were taken by Dearne Valley College to ensure a higher attendance rate at their interviews:
  1. Sent out postcard - one week before their interview date, Dearne Valley sent out a postcard to each of the prospective students. On the front of this postcard was a message personalized with the recipient’s name that reminded them about their interview.
  2. Create a personalized landing page - on the reverse side of the postcard, there was also a custom URL that included the recipient’s name (ie. www.firstname-lastname.my-dvc-interview.com)
  3. Remind prospects of the interview and collect additional data - once they visit the personalized landing page, prospects are given another reminder about the date and time of their interview. They’re also prompted to provide additional data by filling out a survey in exchange for the chance to win a prize. The information collected is then used to target prospects during future campaigns.

The Result

By using this 3-step multichannel approach (direct mail postcard - personal landing page - data collection) Dearne Valley college was able to generate a response rate of 27 percent! They were also able to cultivate valuable data from their prospects that they later used in other marketing campaigns.

Example 2 - Lyon College

Case study courtesy of www.podi.org.

The Goal

Lyon College was looking for a way to create an engaging marketing message for its target audience - high school seniors who scored a 24 or above on the ACT. However, they understood that in order to hold the attention of this particular demographic they needed to do something unique. They hoped to generate 655 applications from this campaign.

The Multichannel Marketing Approach

The campaign started out with a direct mail piece that contained a personalized URL for students to visit. This URL took them to a page with a survey that asked them several questions, like their desired field of study, extracurricular interests, and more. After students had filled out the survey, Lyon College would then send them another direct mail piece with content based on their responses to the survey. This second direct mail piece also included an augmented reality (AR) trigger. When students viewed the image on the direct mail piece with their smartphone, a video would pop up that showed the college president screaming while riding on the college’s campus zipline. Not only did this video serve the purpose of keeping students engaged, but it also gave them a brief look at the campus and the general atmosphere at the college!

The Result

  • 2.85% of recipients visited their Personalized URL
  • Of those that visited their Personalized URL, 70% of the respondents completed the online survey/entry form
  • 76% increase in applications received compared to the same time period of the previous year
  • 1,116 applications received. This represents a 70% increase over their goal
  • 50% increase in acceptances (applicants who have qualified for admission) compared to the same time period of the previous year
  • Deposits received for holding a place in the 2013 freshmen class increased 18.6% as compared to the previous year
  • Additionally, certain direct mail pieces sent in previous years were NOT sent this year, in favour of fewer, more personalized pieces. As a result, total direct marketing spend for this campaign decreased by nearly 30%

Example 3 - Anthem Education

Case study courtesy of www.podi.org.

The Goal

Anthem Education provides training in the healthcare, business, technology, paralegal, and criminal justice fields. In total, they have over 30 campuses across the country and online. Anthem’s marketing director noticed a dip in the number of students enrolling in programs with January start dates. So, the college set out to create a multichannel campaign that could:
  • Connect with prospects at different stages throughout the enrollment process.
  • Provide information on the closest campus to each prospect.
  • Drive students to apply for the January start date.

The Multichannel Marketing Approach

For this campaign, the student audience was split into different segments based on where they were in the sales funnel: anthem diagram The type of communication they would receive depended on what segment they were part of. Custom landing pages were also created based on the audience segment, the program the student was interested in, and which institution was closest to the student’s home. These landing pages featured a video relevant to the students’ interests and prompted them to fill out a contact form. Based on their responses in the contact form, the appropriate member of the admissions team would reach out.

The Result

Thanks to their multichannel campaign, Anthem College was able to generate 69 responses and 37 enrollments. These might sound like low numbers, however, if you consider the cost of Anthem’s programs ($15,000 to $40,000), you’ll realize how significant the ROI really is. All in all, the 37 enrollments equate to $550,000 to $1,480,000 in revenue!

Looking for a Multichannel Marketing Approach That Generates Results for Your Higher Education Institution?

At ION, we understand that sometimes it’s hard to differentiate your organization from competitors. That’s why we’ve spent countless hours developing a multichannel marketing solution that your school can use to achieve results. We’ll work closely with your marketing department to develop a custom strategy based on your goals. Whether you’re looking to boost enrollment, generate awareness, or increase donations, we can help! Please contact us today to learn more.