As a digital marketing manager for a college or university, you are responsible for managing a long list of promotional tasks and tools. Maybe you even feel like not you’re quite up to speed on all the things.
Here’s what I’ve discovered after three graduate degrees and countless certificates – you don’t have to be an expert on every single part of digital marketing. You just need to know when it’s time to apply the right marketing lever.
There are people out there who truly enjoy the aspects of marketing that you hate to do – and their passion and expertise make them ideal partners!
For example, if the thought of tossing Facebook Ads another $500 makes you want to cry, it’s time to find a freelancer who knows how to do social media advertising on a budget so you can maximize every dollar.
Here is a list of marketing tasks you might want to outsource to marketing specialists (along with a few of my personal recommendations):
PPC Advertising – PPC ads can make or break a budget. Google will happily charge your school’s credit card, even if you don’t see qualified traffic and conversions. Put aside the comfort of Google Automated Bidding. A PPC ad expert can help you:
- improve your quality score
- lower your cost of acquisition
- make sure you keep your shirt while growing your pipeline
CPM Advertising – CPM is the dominant method used in Facebook and Instagram ads. If you’re like me, you already know you can spend hundreds or thousands developing audiences and never generate conversions. Yikes, that makes spending hard to justify. A good CPM advertising expert will help you:
- create winning creative
- organize your spending by top, middle, and bottom of the enrollment/sales funnel
- deliver you qualified leads
Email Marketing – Believe it or not, as a higher ed marketer you should be getting better than a 20% open rate and an 8% click thru rate, according to the industry averages published by Constant Contact. An email marketing expert can help you to:
- build your email list
- figure out how to get more mileage from your creative assets
- help you test and write better emails
- create email automation cadences
Graphic Design/Illustration/Web Design – The web is visual, so you need to make your work aesthetically pleasing or you will lose the opportunity to engage visual learners (about 40% of the population). From social media photo collages to video and motion graphics to those infographics that audiences love, the list goes on. In my experience, the sheer volume of design needs will typically overwhelm a team with just one or two full-time designers.
That’s why a freelancer who can come up to speed quickly is a great bonus team member. I wholeheartedly recommend Pekala Design. Full disclosure, Michael designed and developed my website and illustrated my logo. The reason I worked with him is because he’s the best.
UX/UI Design – Don’t use a college committee to decide how to organize your website! Been there, done that. An experienced UX/UI designer will be able to:
- conduct usability testing
- develop a sitemap
- create wireframes and prototype layouts
- model user interactions
- access expensive tools you might not have in your own department’s marketing stack like Sketch, Figma, Miro, InVision, Balsamiq and Zeplin.io
Content Marketing – A powerful content marketing strategy for colleges will generate leads for your enrollment pipeline. From developing target personas (or working with your existing personas) to helping you visualize your customer journey, a content marketer can create assets that fill the top, middle, and bottom of your funnel, like:
- email copy
- blog articles
- lead magnet quizzes
- happy student webinars
- social media messages
- branded podcasts
Each asset, or piece of content, should be designed to achieve a very specific goal such as:
- an appointment with an enrollment counselor
- a brochure download
- a webinar signup
- an entry in a giveaway drawing
- a subscription to your SMS campaign
Planning and deploying an enrollment campaign can take up a lot of your time and result in an overly complex spreadsheet. It also happens to be my idea of fun, so please let me know if you’re looking for a content marketer.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – If you buy enrollment advertising, consider SEO your Google discount promo code. You don’t have to pay for clicks or awareness you earn by showing up on page one of a Google search. There are now more ways than ever for your school to show up on a search engine results page (SERP), such as:
- your most popular Youtube video
- your Google Local listing
- a popular answer in the People Also Ask Box
- a Google review
Sure, it sounds simple to use a tool like Keywordtool.io to identify the phrases you’d like to rank for and then create relevant content. But as you can guess, there’s a lot more to it. SEO is a carefully crafted, technical, iterative process of optimization, not a one-time tactic. Do yourself a favor and hire a pro who does SEO for a living.
Podcast Production/Editing – Podcasting is a hot new medium for marketing. As a higher ed marketer, you are likely a great show host because you already know the guests! You can interview faculty, sports teams, and student groups who are highly relevant to your prospective student population.
But recording a show intro, teaser, and outro – not to mention editing out the umms and ahhs – may not be in your skillset right now. No worries. If you’re looking for a great – and affordable – podcast producer and audio editor, I recommend Jon at Wayfare Recording. I’m using him on a current project myself. He will produce, edit for content, ensure your show is available on the popular listening apps (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and many more). Just tell Jon April sent you!
PR (Media Relations) – Yes, the competition in college brand reputation is fierce. Instead of standing still and simply cranking out one more obligatory news release, I encourage you to seek out help to enhance your school’s brand visibility.
Bottom line, if you want to be featured in free media, you absolutely need to build personal relationships with media publishers, from social media influencers to the local TV news. This doesn’t happen overnight, but you can buy guidance and hands on help from freelance media relations experts.
All of these marketing tasks make every marketing manager feel overwhelmed, and maybe a little like an imposter. But, by strategically hiring experienced freelancers, you can reduce your stress level and achieve more of the results that your school needs.
If you’re ready to hire a freelance content marketer, reach out to me and say hello.