What the Potential Recession Means for Education Marketing

From Josh Zoerner, Content Strategist, Dstillery

We asked our members about changes to retail advertising as schooling transitioned to online in the past couple of years. Josh Zoerner shares how brands now need to advertise to cut through the clutter. 

This year, education marketers have invested more in expanding reach than any year before due to factors like social media marketing, crowdsourcing, and micro influencer marketing. With 36% of campuses experiencing a fall in campus visit requests, universities and other higher education institutions are adopting digital marketing to enhance their student recruitment. Not only was higher education marketing conquesting toward Gen Z, but they were also adapting to Gen Z students in lockdown. Education marketers have begun to heavily leverage videos, post photos, and share relevant written content to help potential students make informed decisions. 20% of the Gen Z students said that YouTube videos play or have played a significant role in their potential college enrollment decision. A fifth of the market. That’s huge.

It has been said that connecting with Gen Z can be difficult if not approached correctly. Zoomers have also been accused of having short attention spans, not checking email, or distrusting brands (and for good reason!). While all of these are reasonable criticisms, they are also the most logged on generation EVER and are willing to become vocal advocates for anything that they deem valid. This should be empowering to you as a marketer. You have a dream to sell someone, so make that dream a reality.

A typical educational institution spends 11% of its annual revenue on education marketing and digital marketing activities. With that in mind, it’s best to focus on solutions that are precise and ready to scale to drive brand growth. Combining your digital marketing due diligence with expanding the subject matter of your digital presence is a sure fire way to attract not only parents of students, but the students themselves. To be a successful institution today is more than just name recognition; it’s about being compelling, showing that you have a perspective, and are an attractive place to continue education. You are building an education brand, yes, but you’re also responsible for building and showing a lifestyle brand that potential students will align with, so you have two key goals – prove you can enhance their intellect and improve their quality of life. 

As a potentially recessed economy looms (or is here, depending on who you ask) the value of your ad spend in the digital space becomes a crucial and compelling part of building your brand. Digital marketers in the education space must make each dollar count across their advertising platforms and DSPs. The days of relying on shoddy data, lookalike audiences, and keyword stuffing are over. You’re throwing oil on a fire that burns and burns and suddenly the growth target you hoped for is underperforming and your team is on the chopping block. If you’re buying data and trading across marketplaces for ads, make sure the data you purchase is refreshed every 24 hours and regularly rescored so that the highest prospects rise to the top. Ensure you are only targeting the most relevant consumers by spending your ad dollars efficiently during the economic uncertainty in Q3 and Q4.