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The Complete Guide to Education Marketing

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Looking to grow your company’s reach? Education marketing is the answer. Here, you can grow demand for your product, services, or institutions as more people choose online education. The data speaks loudly: The global e-learning industry is set to reach $457.8 billion by 2026.

How do you develop your first education marketing campaign? How much money and time do you need to invest? What is the whole range of benefits?

In this guide, you’ll learn the fundamentals of education marketing. Understand the steps of building an education marketing strategy, as well as get actionable tips.

Table of Contents

What is education marketing?
Why education marketing is important?
Building an Education Marketing Strategy
4 Tips for Education Marketing

What is education marketing?

Education marketing is the practice of promoting educational institutions, programs, products, or services to prospective students (aka clients), thus increasing student enrollment.

Let’s dive into an example. A nearby community college is seeking to increase the number of students enrolling in its vocational training courses, with a specific focus on healthcare programs. To achieve this, they create target ads, social media posts, and testimonials from past students who got rewarding careers.

Additionally, they host webinars and virtual open days to engage with prospective students and answer their questions by highlighting the high demand for healthcare professionals.

Note: Education marketing is often confused with education-based marketing. The latter is a specific marketing strategy used to educate potential customers on a particular topic by creating demand rather than directly pushing toward a sale.

Why Education Marketing Is Important

The online and offline education sectors are highly competitive. Here is why education marketing matters to stand out in today’s saturated market.

It boosts brand recognition.

Successful marketing campaigns lead to a strong and recognizable brand identity for educational institutions. They also have strong associations with specific qualities, values, and attributes.

An example may be a heartwarming welcome video, like one from Stanford.

It helps reach a broader audience.

Education marketing helps such institutions reach a broader and more diverse audience, including international students, non-traditional learners, and remote learners.

For example, non-traditional learners often require information about how the institution’s programs can fit into their busy lives and career aspirations. Effective marketing helps convey this information and demonstrates that the institution understands and supports its educational journey.

Invite world-known speakers to prompt students to enroll in the institutions. Here is the motivational speech from Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios.

Back in 2005, at Stanford University‘s 114th Commencement, he delivered a speech urging graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks.

It allows educators to learn about the needs of their students.

Education marketing is not only about students, their families, or institutions themselves. There are also other stakeholders, such as educators.

Katie Stoddard, a former educator turned education marketer, sees marketing as a key piece of the education ecosystem.

“In a world where decisions on instructional materials and professional learning largely happen due to past relationships, marketing is a way for educators to learn about other solutions and tools that meet the needs of their learners,” Stoddard says.

Stoddard is the founder and managing director at Ed2Market. She notes that marketing allows small companies to compete with the legacy providers in the space.

“And most importantly, it’s the start of the cycle that gets the absolute best products and services into classrooms across the globe,” she says.

It helps student families get involved.

Education marketing should cover any possible information that the students and families might need, showing them what their options are, what they can expect, and why they should pursue education at a given academic institution.

Students and their families can easily access information by reading testimonials, watching videos, or taking virtual tours. This is true at all levels of education — from elementary schools to universities to online academies.

According to the RNL’s latest report, parents preferred to get important information via email. The same report suggests that parents are open to getting emails from different universities if they contain the following information:

Cost (tuition, accommodation, etc).
Academics (programs, subject area info).
Admissions requirements, deadlines, and timeline.

Building an Education Marketing Strategy

Here are six fundamental steps to build an effective education marketing strategy.

For each step, we’ve sourced real examples of campaigns.

1. Understand your target audience.

First, define your audience. In this case, decide who is receiving your educational offer. By this, we don’t simply mean prospective students.

Think about their families, too. Parents or relatives most often have the final say in their educational choices.

Have a clear understanding of the goals and expectations of both parties and make sure your educational offering is a great fit for them.

Pro tip: Conduct surveys and anonymous reviews to collect feedback on your target audience. What do they value, what factors impact their decision-making, and what expectations do they have from institutions?

Knowing the answers will help you find common ground to offer courses and programs that meet their needs.

2. Articulate your unique selling points.

Define what sets your educational institution or program apart.

Highlight your strengths, such as academic excellence, unique programs, experienced faculty, or special facilities. Recognize the qualifications and expertise of your faculty members.

For example, mention any faculty members or notable alumni who have received awards, grants, or recognition. If you possess modern facilities, laboratories, or other resources that provide exceptional learning opportunities, feature them prominently.

In the example below, Oregon State University uses pieces of concrete information to get visitors’ attention. The copy focuses on science and research.

The statistics further reinforce a positive impression.

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3. Choose social media channels to connect with the audience.

Social media channels are extremely popular among millennials and Generation Z, the members of your target audience.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and LinkedIn are the most used social networks, each with its specific characteristics.

From the beginning, stick to 2-3 social media platforms where your audience spends most of their time. Make sure to keep consistency across all your social media channels.

Central Michigan University posted an emotional video on TikTok showing the graduation ceremony where the brother of one of the graduates surprisingly came to congratulate her sister.

The video generated more than 5.5 million views despite having just 14,000 followers.

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4. Roll out an email marketing campaign.

Education-related emails have an open rate of 35.42%, indicating that old-fashioned email marketing is still effective in education.

Create a monthly or quarterly newsletter communicating your institution’s most important activities. Each email should have a clear and compelling call to action (CTA), such as “Enroll Now,” “Learn More,” or “Register Today.”

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Use email automation tools to send targeted emails based on recipient actions, such as welcome sequences, nurturing campaigns, and event reminders.

Send follow-up emails, provide how-tos, tips, and tricks to engage with candidates, and nurture them through the enrollment or conversion process.

Pro tip: Use HubSpot’s FREE email tracking tool to get notifications as soon as someone opens your emails and keep an eye on their interactions.

Try our email software today.

5. Invest in digital advertisement.

Digital advertising will help you reach not only local but also international students who are interested in studying abroad or taking online courses.

Digital advertising platforms, such as Google Ads, Bing Ads, and social media ads, offer precise targeting options.

Set up advertising campaigns based on geographical, demographical, or interest-based targeting. Experiment with various ad formats, such as search, display ads, video, or social media ads.

In the image below, there are several search ad examples. All include the degree program as the title, as well as relevant CTAs prompting you to explore more.

6. Track the metrics and optimize.

Track the metrics to calculate the ROI of your marketing efforts. Understand what‘s working and what’s not so you can optimize your resources and use them wisely.

Depending on your objectives, the list of relevant metrics and KPIs may vary.

Tips for Education Marketing

How to succeed in education marketing? Here are a couple of actionable tips to implement in your education marketing campaigns.

1. Focus on informational content.

The key to educational marketing is to provide value at every stage. Identify the pain points and needs of your target audience throughout their user journey and create informational content around them.

The latest education marketing trends indicate that the most popular types of content include:

Long-form articles.
Case studies.
Press releases.

Want an example?

At HubSpot, we built a comprehensive academy that provides teachers and university instructors with the opportunity to access inbound education marketing resources and sales training materials, such as guides, templates, ebooks, and webinars.

As members of the academy, educators can use HubSpot’s software for free and become part of a community.

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2. Use subject spotlights to let students try before they apply.

How do you make sure that prospective students have a good perception of their desired program? Subject Spotlights is the answer.

Created by Springpod, it provides an interactive, cinematic course taster experience, which enables institutions to attract, engage, and inform prospective students about their course offerings.

Using this tactic, you also spot courses with low interest to promote them more.

3. Leverage student reviews.

Actively solicit reviews from current and former students, parents, and alumni. Address both positive and negative reviews and identify areas for improvement.

Create engaging video testimonials featuring students, alumni, and faculty members sharing their experiences and success stories. Incorporate them into your marketing materials, such as brochures, website content, and social media posts.

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4. Grab students’ attention with events.

Host days where prospective students can explore your campus, interact with faculty and current students, and get a feel for the educational environment.

You can also create a community with past students and organize events such as yearly reunions. Invite renowned guest speakers, industry leaders, or alumni to share their experiences and insights with students.

Get creative and host career fairs to introduce students to potential employers, internships, and job opportunities. This is especially beneficial for higher education institutions.

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Here is a podcast from Education Marketer: Learn how to use events to grab students’ attention in detail.

Leverage Education Marketing to Maximize Your Institution’s Potential

Education marketing plays a pivotal role in the success and growth of educational institutions across all levels, from schools and colleges to universities and online academies.

To overcome shifts in student expectations, combine different education marketing strategies, gain insights, and optimize your campaigns accordingly.

​Education Looking to grow your company’s reach? Education marketing is the answer. Here, you can grow demand for your product, services, or institutions as more people choose online education. The data speaks loudly: The global e-learning industry is set to reach $457.8 billion by 2026. 


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