Transcript 45: Digital Innovation and Brand Awareness, with Allison Lanier and Scott Fogleman


Intro:

You’re listening to Undeclared, the podcast that provides strategies to overcome the challenges that higher education institutions face. We help colleges and universities attract the right students because we know an educated planet is a better place for everyone. Please welcome your hosts, Scott Fogleman and Allison Lanier.

Allison Lanier:

Hi, I’m Allison.

Scott Fogleman:

And I’m Scott. And you’re listening to Undeclared, a podcast for higher education problem solvers, where we discuss all things higher ed with university and college professionals, as well as industry experts.

Allison Lanier:

You all, technology and media platforms are shifting. What used to work may not do it in this digital age. However, this provides institutions with the perfect opportunity to experiment with what sticks with students.

Scott Fogleman:

Yes, the digital space is all fun for experimenting. So as we mentioned in the last five minute segment, we are taking some snippets from a recent article Hanover Research produced titled 2020 Trends in Higher Ed. So today we will be discussing brand awareness strategies and how they can help boost institutional reputation with a focus on digital innovation.

Allison Lanier:

How many of you have your student decision journey mapped?

Scott Fogleman:

Hmm. Hear some crickets out there.

Allison Lanier:

So what I mean by this is have you worked through the life cycle stages that your students go through from intent to enroll? This can include the student’s action, touch points they hit along the way and insights they gain as well.

Scott Fogleman:

Yeah. So some interesting facts about brand awareness. Did you know that 17% of prospective students believe that institutional reputation is an important factor in deciding where to apply? And 40% of students feel passively about the institutions they attend. So this really means that institutions need to improve brand image.

Allison Lanier:

Right.

Scott Fogleman:

We got some work to do, but that’s okay. So reputation speaks. So let’s make sure you know the perceptions around your brand, the offerings that you’re having, how you compete against your peers and what sets you apart. Know what students are saying about you, know what your faculty and staff are saying about you and stay ahead of it. And if there is any negativity out there, take the steps to address it and be proactive.

Allison Lanier:

And we totally understand that maybe an entire brand strategy isn’t in your budget in the near future, but there are definitely some ways you can begin boosting your brand awareness now. One of those ways is that you can leverage inbound marketing. This allows institutions to connect with prospective students no matter where they are in the application journey.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. And let’s talk about ways that you can start really using some of these digital platforms to do that and have actual measurement. Data is going to be a key to creating lift and showing lift and showing improvement. So you can incorporate analytics into your social media strategy. It isn’t enough to just track some followers anymore. That metric was great for a time, but we’ve got to do more than that. We really need to use analytics to tie our social media strategy back to our overall overarching brand awareness goals.

Scott Fogleman:

We want to see the engagements. We want to see the types of conversations being had. We want to measure for positive feedback versus negative. But beyond that too, we also want to look and make sure that we’re responding, that we’re not just ignoring the comments that are being spoken and that we are being proactive. Again, if we see that there’s a need, let’s address it. There’s some great schools that we’ve shared in our social media engagement report that we partnered with Rebel IQ on that shows how schools have taken some of that comment and created actionable results from it. So they’re using it to make change on their campus, but they’re using the insights that the data can provide them to do it in a way that is going to make sure that it’s a lasting impact and not just reactive.

Allison Lanier:

Exactly. And I don’t know if you guys know this or not, but the student landscape is changing.

Scott Fogleman:

Oh my God, [inaudible 00:04:09] different.

Allison Lanier:

Just heard about it.

Scott Fogleman:

Has it changed?

Allison Lanier:

It’s more important than ever to meet the students where they are. And that’s honestly on the digital landscape. Not to say that traditional marketing efforts are a waste, but there has to be more emphasis on the digital piece and less on the traditional. Because it’s not enough to just put billboards up anymore. It’s like you become immune to that, but you just got to get creative with how you’re reaching these kids and figuring out where they live on the digital media side of it and really try to make an impact there.

Scott Fogleman:

The other thing to do is you’ve got to track your ROI. You’ve got to show the return on that investment and using digital marketing, you can actually do that much easier. You can even get down to the level of cost per acquisition, cost to get a student enrolled. So these are going to be the metrics that we want to figure out and digital marketing is going to really help us track that in a way. And then if we’re seeing associations between our numbers dropping, but we’re seeing that the perceptions that are out there, the comments that are being said are also dropping or focusing a little bit more negative, that can indicate that we’ve got a problem and one that we need to solve for. So students really want to see the value that you provide. So the other great thing about digital marketing and using digital media is that you can constantly promote stories.

Scott Fogleman:

It’s a great platform to have change and showcase many different stories. Again, Allison has been speaking about this on several of our episodes. The student landscape has changed. We’ve got a large variety of audiences. If we’re focused too much on traditional media, we’ve limited those audiences that we can reach. We can really segment and really customize through digital marketing, use that as a powerful tool to make sure that you’re speaking to those students where they are, in the environment that they are most likely to engage with you on. And again, have those stats to help you build a reputable brand.

Allison Lanier:

And lastly, technology is the way of the future. And students want to see that your institution is prepped for this change. Don’t be a blockbuster. I mean, honestly you see this change is coming. And I feel like that’s something that you can control. And an example would really be around if you can do anything with augmented reality or virtual tours. These students want to see that you guys are using the same technology that they’re using on a daily basis and they want it to be fun and interactive. And they want to know that you’re prepped for the future and technology is where the future is.

Scott Fogleman:

One cool thing about the digital space too, it’s easy to experiment.

Allison Lanier:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott Fogleman:

It’s not as large of a commitment as some of these traditional outlets. So you can pull the levers on and off and you can see what works. You can experiment and play. And that’s really going to be a value that you can bring. Kodak had access to digital camera technology. They chose to remain in film. Let’s not make the same mistakes that Kodak made and let’s really be proactive. And again, one of the things we focus on on Undeclared is asking your prospective students where they are, finding out where you need to be and making sure that you’re really utilizing the same platforms they’re on.

Scott Fogleman:

So as a wrap up, we have a little challenge. So our challenge to you to this is to really think about the many ways you can boost your brand awareness and remain top of mind in your prospective student and parents consideration set. Find the channels that you’re going to best engage with them. Experiment, play around, leverage your inbound marketing, incorporate the analytics that you have access to to measure, push for more digital marketing over traditional, improve the value of your school offerings. Don’t just assume that it’s understood. Again, we’ve got to make sure that our competition is never at our heels, but we’re always ahead of them.

Allison Lanier:

All right problem solvers. Thank you so much for joining us today. We really hope that you enjoyed today’s episode. And if you didn’t, just let us know.

Scott Fogleman:

You can tell us [inaudible 00:08:10].

Allison Lanier:

I promise we’re friendly. We love feedback, but we do have a fun way that you can leave us some of that feedback. So if you don’t mind going on to Apple podcast and subscribe to our show, get on there and leave us some stars. It can be one. It can be five, preferably five. But if it’s not, that’s fine. But you also make sure to leave us a review. And if you do take those two minutes to leave us a review, then you’re going to have the chance to win a $5 gift card. So just make sure that when you leave the review, snapshot that and email it to hello@upandup.agency. And all of that is spelled out. Make sure you provide your name and number and billing information so we can it over to you.

Scott Fogleman:

Yep, absolutely. So until next time, continue the great work out there, solving the problems of higher end and don’t be afraid to experiment in the digital space, measure your brand and use those results to make informed decisions.

Outro:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Undeclared, the podcast that guides colleges and universities through their greatest challenges. Please leave us a rating and review and go to theundeclaredpodcast.com to tell us how we can help your college or university succeed. And remember an educated planet is a better place for everyone.