Increased event attendance and efficiently obtained attendee data: it’s what dreams are made of. But it doesn’t come easy for many education institutions. In our experience, one of the best ways to maximise foot traffic is through an omni-channel engagement strategy.
Note we said omni-channel, not multi-channel. Your users are across all the major platforms, so why aren’t you? Educational institutions need to shift their thinking to ‘how’ instead of ‘how many’ when it comes to events. Channel coordination allows you to widen the lens of your engagement metrics and tailor your campaign to the customer journey.
As a bridge between online and offline activity, events are an important touchpoint. A student walking onto campus on Open Day could be comparing institutions, just be there to support friends, or have their heart set on enrolling with you.
So, how do you reach so many different people? What kind of marketing and promotional strategies should you implement to make sure you’re talking to your audience effectively? Personalisation is your best friend in the lead up to the event, on the day, and during the time that follows. We’ve identified three key event marketing strategies for education institutions.
With more than 33 million users on Snapchat between 13 and 24 years old, this is where the majority of school-leavers will be. And you? You need to be where your target audience is. In Australia, Snapchat is the most popular app among teenagers, so it’s the perfect place to target school leavers who are looking to start their higher education journey.
58% of millennials say that they open Snapchat first out of all social media apps, comparable to 13% for Facebook and 2% for LinkedIn. With the average user opening the app 18 times a day, spending up to 30 minutes checking in on the action, it’s no surprise that Snapchat forms part of a well-rounded event marketing strategy.
That being said, the platform isn’t right for every brand or event. The success of your campaign will be shaped by your content – you need to be strategic with your marketing. Snapchat gives users an authentic glimpse at university life, allowing you to connect with a prospect on a level that is personal, interactive and personable. You can show potential students what life at your institute can be like, and what they can expect if they enrol.
- Share your Snapcode: this ensures quick engagement and can be used online and offline.
- Create user generated content: on the day interact with students and influencers, or promote a competition to encourage UGC.
- Keep it real: if it’s raining, let your audience know the day will still go ahead! Snapchat users are on the lookout for real-time updates.
- Go behind the scenes: give your viewers the feeling that not everyone else will get to see this.
- Use an analytics platform: a complete Snapchat management platform like Mish Guru will allow you to control your content, track campaign analytics and better engage with users.
Nothing says ‘If I did it, so can you’ like a successful student ambassador or influencer. Takeovers (where a guest poster ‘takes over’ your social media channels) are not a new development when marketing for events but remain among the most effective promotional strategies. You have the opportunity to tap into another community and expand your following through theirs.
In the lead up to your event, an ambassador can give your brand a new voice, tap into offline and online followings and build brand awareness quickly. Education institutions should consider corporate partners and influencers who can increase your reach by association.
Student ambassadors can do takeovers on Facebook, Instagram or other social platforms to get people who weren’t aware of the event, involved. It can also inject some personality into your social media feed, making your content more compelling. A status written by a person, instead of a faceless institution, will cut through the noise in an increasingly crowded pre-click landscape.
- Create a pre-event competition: encourage users to follow social media channels, involving your brand ambassadors.
- Involve brand ambassadors on the day: having a representative from the influencer organisation interacting with students on the day overcomes the disconnect between online and offline.
- Keep it current: a live feed on Instagram or Facebook will help prospective students to feel more connected to you.
- Reshare user generated content: repost content from followers and brand ambassadors, especially if they have a large following that you can tap into.
- Get personal: your ambassador has a name and face. A student ambassador could be the one who signs off emails or tweets.
Congratulations, your event was a success! Now that it’s over, what can you do with all of that valuable data? A key part of every successful event marketing strategy is what happens to your relationship with prospective students once the buzz of Open Day has disappeared.
Post-event strategies focus on nurturing your prospects through the funnel. Marketing automation tools are a great option to get this structure in place, especially when it comes to a longer buying cycle, such as in higher education marketing. Because of this, you need to learn the marketing trends and try to keep one step ahead of the competition without overloading your audience.
Creating a drip campaign that works should be based on the individual customer journey, which takes us back to understanding where your customer has come from. If you can track them across channels, it’s easier to anticipate where they’re likely to go next.
This data will allow you to determine how marketing automation can best facilitate your leads to the next step. Marketing automation platforms such as Marketo are ideal for enterprise institutions and can be easily adopted with the option of hundreds of applications that complement and integrate into the platform.
Many of Marketo’s features support post-event activity, including Facebook Offline Conversions. Marketo has a native integration with Facebook, so you can set up Facebook Lead Ad campaigns to generate leads and send them to Marketo to be used in your marketing campaigns.
With the ability to now track Facebook Offline Conversions, your advertising team can understand which ads are most effective to generate applications. Marketo sends offline conversion data to Facebook several times a day via an automated API and the data then appears in the Facebook Ads Manager Report.
- Keep top of mind: be sure to share plenty of content from the event across all channels. Direct the customer to next steps and encourage them to keep on up-to-date with news and upcoming events.
- Send out a survey: this is a great opportunity to get feedback from attendees.
- Ensure lead quality: find out where your prospects have come from before you commit to nurturing through marketing automation.
- Facebook Offline Conversions – Set up Facebook Offline Conversions to send offline ad performance back to Facebook. Ensure your advertisers are allocating the right budget to ads that are generating applications, not just leads.