Qualitative Research Helps Higher Ed Marketers Listen, Message and Pivot

Published On: July 28, 2023By

It’s a pivotal moment for higher education marketers. The demographic and enrollment cliff is in full swing, trust in higher education is waning, Google Analytics 4 is changing analytics, institutions are shuttering and merging and generative AI is looming. Colleges and universities’ marketing teams need to do all they can to create relevant, targeted messages to their potential students to keep communities and alumni engaged and supportive.

In this moment, differentiation and collaboration become paramount.

Take a tip from eduWeb Summit keynote presenters, Kati Pratt at Perdue University and Bill Faust from Ologie. When faced with solving the challenge of improving awareness and enrollment rates for Purdue Global, their online branch of the well-known university created for adult learners, they took the time to step back and learn from their core audience.

The knee-jerk reaction could have been to immediately update or ‘fix’ the website/digital branding based on messages the administration would think would resonate. Instead, taking a moment to pause and connect with their target audience was key to making the right changes and updates that informed their messaging strategy.

The take-away from this story for all higher education marketers is to listen to your students, faculty, alumni and community.

  • Hear what they want and need from higher education in general these days
  • Most of all, seek to understand what they believe your institution can uniquely deliver
  • Then check in with your prospect population. What are they looking for? What do they need to hear? Which of your differentiating qualities are they most excited about?
  • Then get your internal stake holder teams together and immerse yourself in the collected data. We were reminded at eduWeb just how siloed higher education management can be, so we know this is sometimes a tall order! But it’s important to create spaces for the digesting of insights so that everyone is on board with what you’ve learned – and how those insights will be implemented!

For more inspiration check out our case study on San Francisco State University‘s recent – and highly successful! – enrollment campaign branding.