How do you create a digital marketing campaign for education? Well, there are many ways to go about it. First, it depends on what type of school you are marketing for. Is it a private grade school? Religious academy? State college or Ivy League? It is most important to understand who your target markets and demographics are. For the first time (prior to my digital marketing course) I was forced to think about marketing education on the web by a (in my opinion) failure to target the demographics with the most potential to bring in additional business.
The example I’m talking about it Hult. After I started the program and was becoming more active on Hult associated web pages, I started seeing banner adds everywhere (especially YouTube) advertising Hult’s global program. Why am I seeing these banner ads? I’m already in the program! This tactic needs to be altered. Instead of targeting people who are active on Hult web pages, it should be targeted to people who search MBA programs or even international business masters.
When I was contacted by Hult recruiters I had never heard of the school. My first thought was “why are these people contacting me?” “is this real or a scam?” So of course I jumped on Google and searched “is Hult international business school a scam?” Yahoo Answers already had a discussion active about this inquiry. Although Hult has improved its web presence and web marketing now, a year ago it was difficult to evaluate the school. Now when I search anything related to Hult, the top 5 results are either the school’s home page, articles about rankings or the global program which is getting a lot of attention. A year ago Hult’s home page was the 8th or 9th suggestion and the top suggestions were the others like myself, wondering “what the heck is Hult?”
So although I see Hult’s digital marketing as a failure a year ago, this is also a perfect example on how to take a failure and improve it. Obviously I’m still seeing those Hult banner ads every time I watch a YouTube video, but at least now Hult has a better web presence which might bring in more business with confidence. Now potential student can search Hult and find suggested links about rankings from the Financial Times, accreditations, rankings from Top MBA and a link to The Economist. Unlike the search results a year ago, Hult is now linked with many respected and trusted sites which is also very important in digital marketing. These are tactics that will give potential students confidence in the school and encourage them to send in a deposit!
There have been many important and arguably phenomenal moments in the short history of the World Wide Web. Among them include 1994 when the internet went from being mainly used by the government and academic institutions (as well as a few tech geeks in the 80s) to becoming something the public had access to and began using. The list could go on and on but in my opinion, The Cloud is the most important and influential change that has come to internet users.
The Cloud has changed the way we store and share information in drastic ways. The days of carrying around multiple floppy disks or, more recently, USB flash drives are virtually gone. I remember in grade school when “floppy disks” were on the supplies list that schools would send home with students. Now they likely send a note home saying “Set up a DropBox account.”
This idea is pivotal to me because I am one of many who have panicked and just about died when my computer crashed without saving the thirty page senior paper for my undergraduate degree (before I was smart enough to set up my own DropBox account and only relied on my hard drive).
Some may argue that there are far more important moments in the history of the web. For instance in 1984 when the domain name system was developed. No one can argue that the web would be where it is today without this event. But all I know is The Cloud has allowed us to become leaner, meaner, and even more efficient with our personal, educational and professional lives.
Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.
According to Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston, authors of “Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era”, the days of organizational silos are gone and I could not agree more. The basis of this theory revolves around companies “marketing in the round” or basically using all marketing tactics in a strategic way. “No more email campaign one month, a direct mail campaign the following moth, a big product release complete with publicity the following month, so on. Your efforts are around either a series or one annual campaign, completely integrating all disciplines.” (pg. 3)
This idea makes complete sense to me because what I have found most interesting about consumers today is that they are building immunity to repeated marketing or advertising tactics. Research has shown that consumers who are exposed to advertisements on a regular basis don’t notice them and they do not make the desired impact anymore. Companies have to come up with more creative and innovative ways to attract the eye of customers. What better way to start the process than strategically using each marketing tool when appropriate with the most effective message? And this “marketing round” theory is not just about using all the tools, but also opening the communication across a company. “Sales, customer service, engineering/product development, operations, legal, human resources interact with the marketing round for critical company initiatives.” (pg 4)
Chapter 3 of the book stresses the importance of doing your research first. I also think this is a great point to make. Some people might think “obviously, research first..” but I have seen many people who are so excited about the project and end goal that they jump right in without taking the proper first steps like understanding the competitive landscape, doing a thorough S.W.O.T and trying out a sample (or as Dietrich and Livingston call it, “Testing the Waters.”).
The authors do well to spend some time going into detail on some interesting approaches. The one I found myself most interested in is the Groundswell Approach found in chapter 7. What I like about this approach is that it will force you to listen to the negative feedback. It seems like many companies stop listening when the bad reviews start flowing in, but I think there is tremendous value in negative feedback. I like to think it is more constructive than positive feedback. The authors say when a company is “brand monitoring” and “listening” it will be very difficult to stay objective and not get defensive which makes sense.
When I reached chapter 9 which talked about different integration techniques, I found myself starting to doubt the marketing round idea. Horizontal, vertical, internal, external AND data integration is discussed and then I was informed that marketing in the round is an integration of ALL of these integrations! My mind immediately started thinking “this is getting too complex. How do you keep things smooth and efficient when you are mixing so many theories into one?” On the other hand, Dietrich and Livingston do well to explain how each type of integration fits perfectly into the marketing round. For example, they explain that in horizontal integration all the business functions across a company are working together. Then the vertical integration is related to the idea of marketing objectives supporting the corporate goals which in turn supports the horizontally integrated business functions as well. It’s complicated… and I had to sit with the information for a while before the pieces fit more clearly.
I felt like there needs to be more emphasis on measuring the success or failure of the campaign strategies a company is choosing to use. This feeling comes from the beginning of the book when it is discussed how in today’s uncertain economic climate, businesses are not looking at marketing as an investment, and instead seeing it only as a cost. I think measurement is highly important because of this. If I was on a marketing team I would want high-level decision makers to have hard facts showing the impact the marketing department is making on the business as a whole.
My spirit was quickly lifted when I got to chapter 12 (the section about monitoring competition). Ever since my first strategy course in college I have felt very passionate about being aware of what your competition is doing because sometimes, in extreme cases, it can make or break a company. So I love that Dietrich and Livingston added a few tips to keep up with what is going on instead of relying on news reports (which means any action in response to a competitor would be too late). Dietrich and Livingston suggest things such as gaining intelligence from industry groups, speeches from competitors’ leaders and simple market research to see where the trends are going.
Overall, my opinion of the book is that it was effective and interesting. Although I felt there was some repetition in the first few chapters, I became more intrigued as I continued through the concepts. I have some background education in marketing so some of the concepts were not new to me, but there were definitely new and interesting ideas that I wouldn’t hesitate to use in a marketing position.