Higher education marketing has come a long way in a few years. Digital marketing has not only proven its value and potential, it has actually become essential to a good marketing strategy. Understandably, some higher education marketers (actually, all marketers) are sometimes still having to convince their big bosses of this value. However, the resistant big bosses also have a point; traditional marketing is great! We're lovers, not haters and we believe that traditional and digital marketing can work together. In fact, they're fabulous together. Like the George and Amal Clooney of marketing.
Hopefully you already have a vague idea of traditional and digital marketing. However, allow me to briefly take you back to school.
Digital marketing (briefly explained)
The internet and mobile devices have changed a lot of things - our banking, dating, shopping, commuting. But most of all, it has changed how we communicate and how we market.
- Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram etc.)
- SEO, blogging and content
- Website and app optimisation
- Email marketing
- Paid search
- Online ads
Traditional marketing (briefly explained)
Traditional marketing is everything Mad Men. It's how we advertised before the internet. It's a shout into the void, and a hope for something to come of it. That makes it sound hopeless, but it's totally not. Traditional marketing has been working very well for a number of years. The digital sphere has offered some competition, but this champ is still as relevant as ever.
- Telephone marketing
- Mailing lists
- Phone books
Now we've got that boring stuff out of the way, let's look at THE BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP (choral angels singing).
Digital and traditional are actually very complementary, using them together is like unleashing a marketing unicorn. The important thing is to realise is that both have their strengths, and that you've got to play to those strengths.
Traditional marketing reaches a broad audience. Digital marketing is capable of reaching a very targeted audience and then nurturing that connection. Already you can see those pieces fitting together right? Are you picturing that sexy sales funnel? In basic terms, top of the funnel is traditional, and the lower end is digital!
Active and Passive marketing
You can easily think of traditional marketing as a passive kind of marketing, simply because it requires little input from the customer! They sit and watch a TV ad for 30 seconds, they read an ad in the paper - that's it. With digital, it's much more active, or interactive. They spend a few minutes interacting with the brand, whether that's through social media, entering a competition or downloading a brochure. Now passive isn't really where you want to be, but it's easy enough (and super effective) to make traditional active! Still have the 30 second ad, but end with a call-to-action to a website, landing page or social media channel.
A brief if fairly obvious point - if you're using traditional and digital marketing, you have a huge potential reach. You have your broad appeal from the traditional angle and then you have the targeted appeal of digital.
Potential for great connections
Get people interested with a traditional campaign, get them invested with digital. Once someone has engaged with your digital presence, it's up to you to create powerful and personalised nurturing. Marketing automation software (such as our favourite, sales and marketing automation tool, HubSpot) can make this super simple. Using inbound marketing, you can better understand your customer and so better understand how to communicate with them.
Share a Coke
A great example of a traditional/digital marketing combo was with Coca-Cola and its 'Share a Coke' campaign. It had a widespread traditional campaign for broad appeal. It also had #shareacoke printed on each of its named bottles and cans to encourage people to use the hashtag on social media. Once customers moved onto the digital sphere, they were able to interact with the brand with tagging, hashtagging and sending personalised content to their social networks.
What it means for higher education marketing
Potential students are now more online than ever - you can't afford to not be online. However, traditional marketing is still a valuable resource for your organisation. Higher education is such a huge investment for anyone that traditional marketing, especially in the realm of one-on-one interactions, is still hugely important. A lot of the information found in university brochures and prospectus should totally be available online, but don't forget that people still prefer reading paper; there's a lot of information to be considered, and brochures are still very useful.
Students are also likely to attend higher education expos and open days; for traditional marketing this is a perfect venue, you get to actually talk to potential leads! Higher education is actually the perfect realm for the traditional/digital crossover. You're much more likely to have leads interested in offline marketing material than someone searching for say, a backpack. The best thing you can do is make sure the connections between your online and offline mediums are fluid and easy to navigate. Make it easy to find information online and email someone, but also make it easy for someone to pick up the phone or attend an open day.
No man is an island, and neither is any method of marketing. Don't isolate your approach to marketing, otherwise you risk missing out! Using the best parts of each world is the way to go. Think about how you can best combine traditional and digital methods for the best outcomes. You don't need to be a Maccas or Coca Cola to be effective. Have a digital call-to-action on your business card, get people interested at your industry expo or open day, have a sign in your window! There's heaps of ways to think about getting the best for your school, so put your thinking hats on and get to it.