Prospective college students are never the same from one year to the next. Because of this, the trends in higher education marketing can fall in and out of style in as little as a few months. In an industry that sees shifts annually in the ways that students are interacting with brand messages, it's important to stay on the cutting edge to ensure that your brand comes out on top.
Read on for five things in higher education marketing that you should be tracking in 2019.
1. Stories Staying Steady
With YouTube rolling out its own version of the mega-popular "stories" feature, it's clear that the trend is far from dying out. Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram popularized the feature, which consulting firm Block Party found is growing 15 times faster than sharing by newsfeed. Block Party also discovered that 81 percent and 60 percent of daily Snapchat and Instagram users respectively make use of stories on those platforms. With massive consumer buy-in and rapid growth, stories have found their fit in the marketplace, and universities would be wise to take note.
2. IGTV Is IT
Instagram's latest venture, "IGTV," came out recently, and the verdict is in—people love it. In case you haven't heard, IGTV allows users to upload longer, vertical videos (as long as an hour in length), which are then housed on users' profiles both in the normal Instagram app and on a separate IGTV app. The platform allows colleges and universities to connect with students and prospective students like never before—by providing them with longer, more valuable content in a digital space meant for just that. How marketers will use the platform to promote their institutions remains to be seen, but, with the extended hour-long time limit, there's room to play.
3. Voice = Vital
With the virtual-personal-assistant revolution, voice search is rapidly growing in popularity. While devices such as Amazon's Echo, Google's Google Home and Apple's Homepod have been around for a while, many institutions have failed to optimize their content and websites for voice search. The best time to optimize for search on these devices was when they launched—the second best time is now. As consumers continue to snatch up virtual personal assistants, prevalence on voice search will only become more vital for institutions of higher education going into 2019.
4. Automation All Around
Marketing professionals working in higher education are stretched thin, which is why automation has made such an impressive leap in buy-in over the last few years. With interest- and behavior-based targeting and personalization (we'll talk more about that last one in a minute), colleges and universities all across the country are using automation to increase their clickthrough rates and to keep connected with students throughout their lifecycles. Check out our Guide to Lead Nurturing for University Student Prospects to learn more about how automation can give you an edge.
5. Personalization Perfection
Active and prospective college students are inundated with messages every day, and it is increasingly difficult to gain their attentions in our message-saturated world. To combat this, institutions of higher education would be wise to focus on personalizing their brand messages in 2019. Personalization has been proven to improve user engagement. In fact, Stafford Global was able to reduce its conversion time by 58 percent in part by personalizing and optimizing its communications with HubSpot. As we move into the new year, expect to see more examples of colleges and universities finding success through personalization.