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What Should Be in Your School’s Sales and Marketing Plans?

March 29, 2019
What Should Be in Your Sales and Marketing Plans?

Although often used interchangeably, sales and marketing plans are different documents that serve different purposes. Both are vital for your institution to stay on track when it comes to recruitment and internal marketing efforts. Do your sales and marketing plans have all of their essential elements?

What Should Be in Your School’s Sales and Marketing Plans?

Marketing plans serve two main purposes: they identify target markets and develop strategies for recruiting potential students. Sales plans then detail the strategies your institution will use to sell programs. Therefore, a sales plan is a vital part of your school’s larger marketing strategy.

Marketing Plan “Musts”

To identify target markets, a marketing plan should utilize Google Analytics and knowledge of industry trends. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What countries comprise the majority of current traffic?
  • Has this traffic changed in the last year?
  • What has caused these increases/decreases?
  • What target markets are missing from our reports?
  • What’s our full list of target markets?
  • Are our multilingual pages for each of these markets optimized?
  • Does our web traffic reflect our recruitment efforts?
  • Do our social media efforts cater to these markets?
  • Do any ads we ran or are running currently cater to these markets?
  • Do our bookings reflect our traffic?
  • What countries had significant increases or decreases in bookings this last year?
  • Do our marketing efforts align with these increases? (In other words, have we identified emerging markets based on interest/bookings?)
  • How are we promoting each program?
  • Are we promoting each program to its specific target market? Specifically, how are we doing so?
  • How can we do things better than we have in previous years?
  • Are we collecting testimonials, photos, videos, and other marketing tools (such as newsletters) in the best way possible?
  • Are we establishing a longstanding relationship with students after they leave our program?
  • Are we tracking student success in the best way possible?
  • Are we seeking Google reviews?
  • How are we establishing ourselves as being different from our competitors?
  • Do our marketing materials reflect this differentiation?
  • Are our social media accounts optimized?
  • Should we be offering specials? Or other scholarships?
  • Do our programs reflect the needs of our target markets? How could they be improved to bring in more bookings?


Sales Plan “Musts”

Your sales plan must outline your institution’s goals related to bookings. It should include measurable results (such as an increase in inquiries and bookings) and should include actions related to the answers to the questions from your marketing plan.

A sales plan should include the following:

  • Specific actions related to all aspects of the marketing plan
  • Specific actions related to promoting program dates and application deadlines (for each market)
  • Budgets for advertisements
  • Specific actions related to post-program social media and advertisements
  • A calendar of action items (with tasks assigned to individuals)
  • Fairs and other recruitment events
  • Deadlines for when marketing and recruitment materials must be printed/created
  • Specials, promotions, and scholarship details

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are we accurately tracking inquiries?
  • What is our inquiry-to-booking conversion rate?
  • How are we taking steps to improve our inquiry-to-booking conversion rate?
  • How are we catering to our target markets?
  • How are we promoting each program in each target market?
  • How far in advance are we promoting programs and making agents and potential students aware of application deadlines?
  • How are we communicating our successes to agents?
  • Are we working with the right agents?
  • Are we attending the right fairs to recruit from our target markets?
  • Do we have all of the right materials we need to market and recruit?

At Lastarria Media, LLC we provide project management and consulting services to help your institution create and execute effective sales and marketing plans. Contact us for more information.  


Higher Education Marketing Newsletters

The Benefits of Creating Newsletters for Agents

February 5, 2019
The Benefits of Creating Newsletters for Agents

Email is the preferred method of communication for most people in the workforce . . . are you taking full advantage of this opportunity to communicate with your agents? While newsletters might not be appropriate for all industries, they are a highly valued and effective method to promote sales in the higher education sector. Read on to learn more about the benefits of creating newsletters for agents.

The Benefits of Creating Newsletters for Agents

Benefit 1: Newsletters keep agents up to date

You could share your latest news with your agents via a traditional email or an easy-to-read, branded newsletter with graphics, images, and catchy fonts. Which would you prefer to read?

Schedule your newsletter to coincide with the release of new price lists, programs, course schedules, or the publication of other marketing materials (such as a video testimonial).

The Benefits of Creating Newsletters for Agents

Benefit 2: Newsletters provide useful data about your agents and the information they are seeking

Did you know that newsletters are a valuable tool for data collection? With a newsletter, you can gain access to the following information:

  • Which accounts received your newsletter (and which accounts caused the email to bounce back)
  • Which email accounts opened the newsletter (and how many times it was opened)
  • Which URLs and images were clicked on
  • What PDFs were downloaded

This data illustrates which agents are utilizing your newsletter, which in turn helps you better understand its effectiveness (and what information should be included in future newsletters). Furthermore, your email newsletter data tells you where agent interests are: the most clicked hyperlinks or most highly downloaded PDFs indicate which programs agents are promoting (and which they are not).

The Benefits of Creating Newsletters for Agents

Benefit 3: Newsletters provide an opportunity to brand your institution and recycle marketing materials

Are you getting enough use out of your logo, your written and video testimonials, your blog posts, and your professional photos? Newsletters provide another opportunity to use these materials and present them in a professional, branded way. Be sure that agents understand your school’s message loud and clear.

The Benefits of Creating Newsletters for Agents

Benefit 4: Newsletters ensure you have the most current agent contact information

People change jobs all the time. Are you 100% sure that every email address you have for every agent is up to date? If not, consider a newsletter. Each time you send an e-newsletter, you will receive a report of emails that bounced back. Some are “soft” bounces, meaning that there simply may be some spam software installed on the agent’s email account. This is an opportunity to email this agent directly, provide them with the link to the newsletter, and show them that your school has a high attention to detail.

Sometimes, the bounces are “hard bounces.” These are emails that no longer work. Either your institution has the incorrect email listed (this happens often!) or this person is no longer with the company. Either way, this is a red flag . . . and something that should be investigated further. In doing so, you are ensuring you are up-to-date on your partner agencies and their personnel.

The Benefits of Creating Newsletters for Agents

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Weathering the Storm: Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

October 26, 2018
Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

The international enrollment numbers are in, and they reflect what those who work in international education know: these have been a troubling few years for the U.S. international education industry. The strong U.S. dollar, disturbing media reports about safety amid gun violence, xenophobia, and the current political climate are all factors contributing to this downtown in enrollment numbers.  

In the middle of this perfect storm, international education administrators and recruiters are left with the challenge of promoting U.S. programs. To weather this storm, Lastarria Media has provided some tips for surviving the U.S. international education recession.

Weathering the Storm: Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

1. Reorganize/restructure internally as needed

Numbers are down: use this time to your benefit. Take a look at the administrative structure of your institution and make the changes needed to survive (keeping in mind that you will probably need to implement another restructure when numbers again improve). Plan for these fluxes accordingly: have one structure for assigned duties based on low enrollment, and another based on high enrollment. Utilize this period of low enrollment to prepare for the implementation of each of these plans.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

2. Complete a website audit

Your website is a marketing and recruiting tool . . . are you using it as such? Take this downtime to review your website and make sure that it has all of the elements it needs. During this audit, ask the following questions:

  • Is all information up to date?
  • Are all programs fully explained?
  • Are the photos fresh?
  • Do all links work?
  • Are all forms updated?
  • Is the privacy policy GDPR compliant?
  • Is it the site easy to navigate?
  • Is it easy for students to sign up for classes?

Consider hiring a consultant to make suggestions regarding user experience (UX) and to edit the site as a whole. The best time to double your online marketing presence is during times of economic slowdown.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

3. Consider revising/updating admissions forms and systems

Now is the time to fix or improve your admissions system. Instruct employees to test your systems and review each step of the online admissions process and PDF application process. Remove unnecessary items and streamline the application to ensure the application process is fluid.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

4. Review your message and marketing materials

What is your institution’s message? Do your marketing materials reflect this? Do they clearly show what sets your institution apart from your competitors? While looking for the answers to these questions, it is a good idea to take a look at your competition’s websites and marketing materials. This will show you how your school stacks up.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

5. Update and refresh your branding

Is your logo up to date? Is it used throughout your materials? Now is the time to look at this and decide if your school needs a marketing makeover. These investments will pay off when it comes to recruiting in 2019.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

6. Focus on your message through social media

Social media costs very little, but the rewards are great. During restructuring, recruit an internal employee to share your school’s message via social media. Have this person do the following:

  • Carefully select your school’s branded hashtag
  • Follow agencies and partners on Instagram
  • Post daily: share school activities, classroom activities, and anything that makes your school special!
  • Run IG contests with small prizes (and have students use the hashtag in order to participate)
  • Promote activities on Instagram and Instagram stories
  • Use Canva to create IG posts (it’s free!)
  • Share all IG posts on Facebook
  • Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

7. Pay close attention to Google Analytics and use Analytics for sales plans

Google Analytics provides useful metrics in regard to your website: our article about Using Web Metrics for a Successful Website explains the ways to turn these statistics into effective marketing and sales plans.

Use your Landing Pages and Pages reports to understand user activity and trends over time: these reports will also aid in identifying underperforming pages that need SEO improvement. Use the Location report to identify emerging markets, and consider translating your website’s main pages into other languages based on this data.

What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

8. Blog, blog, blog

A blog is your marketing tool, your way of connecting to current and potential students, and your key to improving SEO (learn all about this in our post, Why IEPs Need Blogs). The most important aspects of blogging are to blog consistently and to integrate keywords into all posts: both will improve your SEO rapidly.

When blogging, follow these ideas:

  • Encourage teachers to host writing contests: publish the winner on the blog
  • Have teachers guest blog
  • Ask your Activities Coordinator to provide photos and updates
  • Have a Student of the Week
  • Share on social media

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

9. Connect with alumni

Word of mouth remains an excellent marketing tool. Connect with your alumni through a newsletter, alumni events, or a LinkedIn group. Offer them specials if they’d like to return, and seek testimonials from them as well. Consider embedding a custom Google Map to illustrate the diversity of your student population: add testimonials and photos to each popup to recycle your testimonials in a unique and engaging way.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

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Marketing Higher Education Institutions via Instagram: A Posting Guide for IEPs

April 4, 2018
Marketing Higher Education Institutions via Instagram: A Posting Guide for IEPs

Instagram has become a valuable marketing tool for many industries, including higher education. Yet many institutions are unsure how to utilize Instagram (or remain unconvinced of its influence on consumers). Is your institution profiting from this beneficial form of social media?

Why use IG for marketing?

  • Reach potential students: 80% of IG users live outside of the U.S.
  • Target international student demographic: ​​59% of users are ages 18-29
  • 80% of IG users follow a business
  • 71% of businesses use IG, double from 2016
  • Influencers overwhelmingly prefer IG for brand collaboration: consider scholarships for international influencers*

Marketing Higher Education Institutions via Instagram: A Posting Guide for IEPs

Tips for posting school photos on Instagram

  • Develop/use branded hashtags (7 out of 10 hashtags on IG are branded!)
  • Always use a location (posts with a location  receive almost 80% more engagement)
  • Post on weekdays: this is when engagement is highest
  • Photos receive 36% more engagement than videos.
  • Post photos of students and staff: photos with faces receive 38% more likes
  • Consider the overall look of the gallery (vertical vs. horizontal photos; consistent filters and borders)
  • Use logos (naturally) in photos when possible
  • Create a gallery that is a mix of campus activities, academics, and social outings
  • Use photos to illustrate your school’s diversity
  • Make use of Instagram stories for content that is relevant but not necessary for your gallery (posts disappear within 24 hours)
  • Don’t be afraid to promote programs and specials: 65% of top performing IG posts feature a product
  • Host IG contests with your students: user-generated content has a 4.5% higher conversion rate.
  • Don’t be afraid of emojis: 50% of content on IG has at least one emoticon

Marketing Higher Education Institutions via Instagram: A Posting Guide for IEPs

Need more tips on marketing your educational institution online? Contact Lastarria Media.

* be sure to develop a clear agreement regarding the content that must be posted in exchange for an influencer’s scholarship

Statistics source.

Copyright 2018, Lastarria Media, LLC.