For higher ed professionals, every new year brings new challenges, technologies, and opportunities to work with. The Viv team has identified three key focus areas that will drive institutional marketing strategies in 2022.
1. Continuing to emphasize inclusivity in enrollment strategies. Institutions are wrestling with how to balance values of prestige, excellence, and exclusivity in their messaging while promoting access and inclusivity. In recent years, there has been increased urgency to address diversity, equity, and inclusion across university campuses, and it is no different in enrollment.
Some institutions have opted for test-optional admissions to increase accessibility, as research has shown that standardized testing is biased towards students with high socioeconomic status (SES)(Dixon-Roman et al, 2013). Going test-optional sends a strong message to prospective students that the institution values the student’s achievements far beyond performance on a test, and that they are not only seeking one type of student.
Other institutions are promoting inclusivity through their media strategies. They are widening geographical targeting and increasing their digital media spend to reach students outside of their traditional audiences. Casting a wider net means a university will be able to welcome students across a wider spectrum of backgrounds.
Finally, many schools are promoting diversity through marketing in more subtle ways, including shooting authentic student photos that emphasize diversity or putting out messaging that is more inclusive. Ultimately, these efforts make all students feel like they will be welcomed as part of a school’s campus community.
2. Doubling down on speed-to-lead. As competition continues to grow in a crowded higher ed space, more institutions are turning to establishing personal connections with students the minute they enter the marketing funnel. Enrollment managers at schools are grappling with how to reach leads quickly while balancing the limitations of budgets and staffing. There are many ways to implement speed-to-lead tactics with limited resources — check out our blog linked here for more.
In addition to conventional speed-to-lead tactics, many universities are working hard to bulk up their financial aid packages and offering them to students that can add the most value to on campus. As the competition among universities increases, a robust financial aid offering presented early in the admissions process can make the difference between an admitted student and one lost to another university.
3. Meeting prospects’ desire for in-person events and programs. As the world hopefully begins to move past the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, undergraduate, graduate, and professional students alike crave human interaction. Programs that are able to offer in-person interaction through programs, campus visits, or other events will see the highest success.
Of course, with how universities have adapted to offering programs online, many students will continue to expect hybrid programs that meet them where they are. Offering a mix of in-person and online programs will ensure that universities are able to foster meaningful relationships with prospective students near and far.
These are just a few of our predictions for the year 2022. At Viv, we want to help you navigate the nuances of higher education marketing. Our team of skilled practitioners with decades of experience can make your goals happen. Reach out to us if you want to explore a project at your institution!