Simple Steps To Creating Your Digital Marketing Strategy…
Having a digital marketing strategy in place as part of your overall School or College marketing plan is crucial.
A good digital strategy should be well informed, targeted and focused but also realistic.
So… where do you begin and what do you include?
Determining your objectives
A good understanding of your School or College’s objectives is the first step in creating an effective digital marketing strategy. Without knowing what you’re aiming for, chances are you won’t hit it.
Make your goals as specific as possible. For instance, you may want to increase student registration by 20%. In order to measure the success of your digital marketing plan, you will need to gather historical data to start.
Identifying your audience
A successful digital marketing strategy also relies on understanding your ideal customers. In most cases that is parents, pupils/students and alumni. If you don’t know what your customers’ issues/concerns are, where they can be found, or what motivates their purchasing decisions (in this case their education), you can’t sell to them effectively.
Ensuring you understand the persona of each of your ideal target ‘customers’ (parents, pupils/students, alumni etc) is the first step.
Create ‘Persona Profiles’ by gathering as much data as you can about your target audience. The more you know about your ideal customers, the better you will be able to develop the marketing messages that are most likely to speak to them.
Now that you have identified your objectives and your audience you can begin to create your strategy.
Although each School & College is different, there are four main areas to consider when forming your digital marketing strategy:
Great content is an essential foundation for both your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and Social Media strategy.
Creating a calendar of monthly topics will not only give you an opportunity to showcase your institution’s unique story and to differentiate yourself from other Schools & Colleges, it will help bring you a steady stream of loyal followers. But remember to keep your Persona’s pains and considerations in mind when creating your content. Content MUST be relevant!
* Social Media
If content is the backbone of your marketing plan, then Social Media can be thought of as one of the engines that helps drive it. But don’t just do it for the sake of it. Decide on the Social Media platforms that will best suit your abilities and best reach your audience.
Once you have decided on your platforms, create a Social Media calendar to ensure you stay on top of the conversations. Start with the content you’re creating for your blog and build from there.
Traditional advertising once relied heavily on print. But with more parents and pupils/students online than ever before, digital marketing is now taking the lead and cannot be ignored.
Keep this – and again, your Persona profiles – in mind when developing your advertising plan. Where is your audience? Can you track your ROI? If you haven’t thought of PPC (Pay Per Click) online advertising now might be the time to give it a try.
With relatively few Schools & Colleges using it, the cost is much less than you might expect… use it now before more do.
Your website is by far your biggest advertising platform so your website strategy should not be taken lightly. Does your website ‘talk’ to your Personas? Have you considered their ‘user journey’ around your website? What do you want them to see and do on your website?
If a redesign is on your agenda do you have a 301-redirect strategy? Are you clear about your desired branding, messaging, and your institution’s unique ‘value proposition’?
A new visitor to your website should immediately get a sense of what your School or College stands for and has to offer. From responsive design to protecting your current website assets, there is a lot to keep in mind when building a new website.
Putting it all together…
Although each School or College’s digital marketing strategy will be unique, there are some fundamental steps that will apply to anyone responsible for their institution’s communications:
- Have a clear understanding of marketing objectives;
- Research the target audience – create Persona profiles;
- Implement plans – use a calendar to keep organised;
- Learn and evolve – monitor results and modify if necessary.
Keep these steps in mind when creating your strategy.
Content Strategy – Masterclass workshop
For more tips and techniques, insights and ideas please join us for the EMCdigital ‘Content Strategy’ for Schools & Colleges half-day Masterclass workshop I will be delivering as part of the EMCdigital Masterclass programme.
For information and to book your place please see the ‘Content Strategy’ for Schools & Colleges workshop description.
See you there.
(Digital Marketing Consultant, The Virtual Marketer)
Do join us for our expanded Masterclass programme and book soon (places are limited to small groups for the benefit of all participants).
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