As students we are all familiar with the of the world of academia. In the marketing realm, the curriculum allows us to learn and practice how to communicate across multiple marketing channels. In fact, universities are very good at disseminating the most relevant marketing practices and exposing us to future possibilities. However, when it comes to putting what they know into practice universities run into the same problem as many other businesses. Universities are full of knowledgeable people who understand integration, teach integration, and believe in integration, but as we all know in the real world, there will always be barriers to implementation. Historically, colleges organize their activities around individual departments (silos), which often leads to fragmented messages.
In a recent University Business article, the author talks about how a lot of universities are currently using multiple channels to reach students, but are not very good at integrating those messages. As a result, students get a lot of messages that do not represent a cohesive brand or message. Because today’s students receive so many messages, across so many channels, the author suggests it is not enough to just use channels such as social media, QR codes, and personalized landing sites. Universities must also put those messages into a coordinated campaign so the target is able to recognize the messages they are receiving are related. Messages that are not coordinated lead to a lack of direct response.
In addition, the article gives some tips for integrating student recruitment marketing communications across multiple channels. The first piece of advise is to use the same call-to-to action across all the channels that are promoting your campaign. Second, if you plan to use generic or personalized QR codes make sure your landing page is optimized for mobile devices. Third, use the information you have about prospective students to create highly personalized messages. Fourth, when acquiring lists look for those that rent matching postal and e-mail records because multichannel records are two to five times more responsive than single channel records. Last, consider using SMS text or e-mails that can be set up to automatically send thank you notes, event reminders, and application deadlines, which can help convert prospective students into newly enrolled students.
The important message for universities is, you don’t have to use every available channel to get your message across but you do have to be sure that the channels you choose have a unified voice. The author acknowledges that what we once accomplished through direct mail is now carried out through multiple touchpoints in a cross-media campaign. So as universities try to reach out to the next generation of college students it will be even more important for them to practice what they preach.