Pivoting Post-COVID: 6 Digital Strategies for Higher Education

BY JACQUELINE FASSETT

COVID 19 has changed many industries, but none more than those which rely on in-person interaction. Like bars, restaurants… and most importantly, classrooms. 

Moving forward, it’s going to be a new world for campuses. A new, digital world. 

Schools who will be successful in 2020-2021 are sitting down to think through how to pivot recruitment, admissions, and student success for this new world. If they’re not already on your radar, here are 6 digital strategies you and your team can start building out now. 

1. Virtual Events

Let’s start here. It’s the obvious move for your in-person events. And in some cases, it might be even better. 

This past week, we’ve already seen everything from haunted house tours to virtual raves online. Think about the possibilities! Virtual experiences of campus tours, onsite facilities (like labs), or even your digital platforms can give prospective students a better feel of how they’ll succeed at your school.

With Pardot Connectors and the Pardot API, you can easily pull the registration and attendance data into your Pardot and Salesforce instance. And then, you’ll be able to easily tailor your follow up and suggest similar events to keep the prospective students (or current ones) engaged.

2. SMS & WhatsApp

Texting has a 97% open rate. Yes, you read that right. 

If you have found that your email tactics hang around the average 16% email open rate for Higher Education, you might need a shake up. 

With trusted SMS solutions like MogliSMS (who has deep experience with higher education) texting from Salesforce and Pardot is as easy as adding someone to a Salesforce Campaign. Yep, that easy — just add them to a Campaign. 

With MogliSMS, you can even integrate WhatsApp and build out Dashboards to see how your text messaging efforts are driving admissions or fundraising efforts. 

Now, combine that with promoting your new virtual events and you’ve got an exciting new engagement strategy.

3. Chatbots & Conversational Marketing

Chat bots and conversational marketing tools are popping up on every B2B website. But the higher education space is starting to see real growth with chatbots and big savings. 

As we see students and prospective students come back time and again to a website to view program offerings, find services, or schedule counselor appointments, chatbots can speed up the process and get them an answer in an instant. Think about how happy and impressed they’ll be. 

With chatbots like Qualified, a chatbot built specifically for Pardot and Salesforce, you can even place a call directly through the Qualified bot. In the age of where younger generations expect instant gratification and Amazon-like speed, being able to automatically talk to a counselor or helpful staff member is a winning marketing tactic. 

4. Pardot Engagement Studio

Pardot’s best feature and automation heavy hitter is by far Engagement Studio (though my colleague Mike Creuzer might say it’s the API). Engagement Studio is a powerhouse tool for nurturing prospective students or benefactors. 

Pardot’s Engagement Studio can not only send timely and personalized messages, but also help to qualify the student. Taking it to the next level, you can even alert admissions staff of an engaged candidate with the creation of a Salesforce task. 

No more bland emails and overwhelmed counselors. Now you’ve got an automated and personalized nurturing campaign, and you can get back to planning the next virtual rave. 

5. Pardot Social Posting & Marketing Cloud Social Listening

If you are used to in-person events leading your marketing strategies, you might need to find a social platform to continue to interact, engage, and listen to prospective and current students. Salesforce offers several tools for this. 

Pardot’s Social feature allows you to schedule posts and keep track of how your prospects (all the people in your Pardot instance) are engaging with your social content. 

With Marketing Cloud’s Social Studio, you can not only schedule posts, but also listen and monitor your post and reputation on social media. 

It’s imperative that schools show students they are listening. Especially in a time where it might feel harder for the student to get in touch with staff and faculty. With features offered by Salesforce, schools can easily communicate with and listen to students through social media.

6. Innovative Advertising

Students have come to expect schools to be innovative and personalized. Their online experience has never been more important. Digital advertising should feel like a seamless and personalized experience for each student. 

Pardot can help you track and personalize the experience for each prospective student or benefactor. Whether you’re using pay-per-click ads or trying something new, Pardot’s tools like landing pages, custom redirects, and page actions, can help your team create a seamless experience.

Through Pardot Landing Pages, you can quickly design, publish, and create easy to remember, custom URLs in Pardot. When your team puts out a new digital ad, like a podcast ad (check out this example at the start of NPR’s Marketplace from the Oregon State University’s E-Campus), tracking engagement and initiating follow up will be easy. 

The New Digital Campus

As we move our daily interactions online, we’re going to see big changes in the way we communicate and market online. Tried and true platforms like email are not going away, but new spaces pop up constantly. We need to innovate and automate how we capture students’ attention, and make each student feel valued and part of the community.

The Sercante team, a fully remote team, lives/breathes innovative marketing. If your school or organization is ready to take on this new world, let’s jump on a Zoom call and brainstorm together. 

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