“It is now the age of the customer, where consumers are empowered with the tools to make their own purchase decisions— and they know how to use them.”
Marketing has gone through many evolutions from the Age of the Brand to the Age of the Channel, to now the Age of the Customer. Higher education for a long time has been looked at as a necessity for most of our society – especially the middle class. For many, it was always a given. You complete high school and you go to college and you get a job. Higher education professionals have been feeling comfortable for a long time that they will always be needed and that students would always be willing to pay for an education. This is not to say that we in higher education want to look at students as customers to prey upon. We have the best of intentions. But we should start seeing students as having a choice.
The numbers don’t lie. University enrollment is on a slow (so far) decline while online education enrollment is steadily increasing. When students are choosing an online program, they are not limited to what is within driving distance. They have many more choices available to them. In fact, they don’t even have to necessarily pay to learn at all. There are plenty of online resources available on any subject you can imagine. Some employers are beginning to eliminate education requirements in favor of certifications, projects, and experience. Thus, universities may one day cease to be a gateway for jobs. The marketplace is a free-for-all. There is competition all around and decreasing demand; which means that one day some universities may have to close up shop.
To compete in this evolving landscape, we have to think like marketers as well as educators as we plan strategically for the years ahead. Adapt to the online-revolution and use the platforms that our “audience” is already using. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will be more important than ever now that historical reputations of universities are becoming less important than value. In other words, in this free-for-all, the first battleground to fight on is Google.
In order to win in the battle Googlesburg, have a fast, user-friendly and mobile-friendly website. King Google favors those that give searchers exactly what they are seeking, so have tailored landing pages for important keywords. Post quality content often and invite your visitors to fill out contact forms. Those forms will give you leads to follow and valuable data. [For more on SEO Check out Neil Patel’s website]
We cannot let ourselves become complacent. Universities are not utilities we are a service – a service that needs to actively evolve to stay relevant to be around another four score more.
Dempster, C., & Lee, J. (2015). The rise of the platform marketer: performance marketing with Google, Facebook, and Twitter, plus the latest high-growth digital advertising platforms. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.