Top 3 Higher Education Predictions As 2020 Draws To A Close

As we enter the last quarter of 2020, many industries are looking ahead to the new year and reflecting on the lessons learned from the highly unusual set of circumstances that defined this year. Education, an industry widely impacted by COVID-19, has had to course correct multiple times as students learned from home, returned to campus or tackled a hybrid of the two. The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Demand, published by Digital Media Solutions® (DMS), analyzed data that demonstrates how many students are rethinking their degree options, areas of study and the opportunities available through online learning. 

Higher Education Predictions For The Upcoming Year And Beyond

Based on the findings of the recent DMS education report, Cliff Libby, EVP & GM of education at DMS, has made several predictions for the upcoming year. 

1. With the increase in social media use due to COVID-19, social media platforms will continue to gain trust and popularity for education marketers.

Social media is increasingly becoming a reliable tool for higher education enrollment marketers, particularly as native tech users overwhelmingly make up student bodies around the country. YouTube has been used effectively by higher education institutions to offer tours, create connections between enrolled students and incoming students and promote campus enrollment strategies. Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are also growing in popularity for education marketing, often via hashtag campaigns and student-generated content. 

Social media has been helpful during the pandemic, providing information in a positive way to students and parents on the latest college campus protocols. Using social media to deploy information and marketing is a trend that will continue both as uncertainty looms and after the pandemic, because social media platforms have garnered increased trust from students and parents. According to Libby, “Marketing budgets are continuing to shift in digital advertising to where consumers are spending time, including social media platforms and blogs and websites with content relevant to students and their parents.” 

2. Alternative higher education learning options, such as bootcamps and short programs, will grow in popularity and become more accepted by prospective students and their future prospective employers.

As many people face unemployment or concerns about career security because of the pandemic, shorter, career-focused programs are likely to resonate with prospective students looking to acquire specific career training within a compressed timeline. These types of programs, which take less time to complete and are more job-focused, are expected to become more commonplace. Bootcamps are also growing in popularity, offering programs that are typically less than a year long and are focused on specific areas of study, like programming.

Students want access to online education, whether it’s through short programs, bootcamps or traditional four-year programs, and education marketers need to reach prospective students interested in online learning, making them aware of what is available and highlighting differentiating factors like areas of study, length of program and cost. 

“Schools that have established online models and those that are transitioning to online or hybrid platforms are spending more on marketing because of increased competition. Higher education institutions want to make sure their messages get in front of students with the right frequency to generate brand awareness, and at the right moments to drive enrollments,” said Libby.

3.  Higher education marketers will continue to focus on digital strategies, shifting away from traditional advertising.

A multimedia approach across channels is indispensable for higher education institutions trying to reach the right students at the right time. Heading into 2021, the shifting role of traditional advertising, as a supplement to optimized, multichannel digital campaigns, will impact budgets and strategies for higher education marketers. As dollars shift away from traditional media, so should attitudes about “what has always been done,” notes Libby. Creativity, adaptability and meeting the evolving needs of prospective students should be the priority, and digital marketing strategies that allow personalization, tight targeting and agility are going to be front and center moving forward.

The Future Of Higher Education Marketing Is Digital, Personalized And Evolving

Shutterstock_1032878401 Smiling young African college student sitting on campus working online with a laptop and listening to music on headphones

Few things are certain right now, but gathering data on industry trends, like those in the The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Demand report, published by DMS, can help education marketers better understand the mindsets of prospective higher education students to create relevant and engaging enrollment marketing campaigns. Across industries, the accelerating rise of digital is the story of the year, and education is no exception. Moving into the new year, education marketers that can properly prioritize their digital strategies to connect with prospective students where they are and at the moments they’re ready to take action are more likely to be successful at scaling admissions.

Download The Impact Of COVID-19 On Higher Education Demand Report Today

The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Demand report, published by DMS,  covers trends in the prospective student research, inquiry generation and student acquisition activities of higher education institutions for the period of January 2018-June 2020. The objective of this report is to provide a snapshot of higher education-specific marketing evolution and highlight trends to help marketers better understand and adapt to the continually changing landscape, with a focus on January-June 2020 education demand trends.

View The On-Demand Webinar ‘Inside The Impact Of COVID-19 On Higher Education Demand’ Now

Watch DMS experts Rustam Irani, SVP Strategy and Growth, and Jeff Meola, Director of Managed Services, discuss the impact of COVID-19 on higher education demand in our latest on-demand webinar. Covering trends on higher education interest, conversion, program format, category and media channels, the DMS experts provide actionable recommendations for higher education marketers in the wake of COVID-19.

Are You Looking To Connect With Prospective High-Intent College Students At Scale?

DMS EducationTM is a thought leader in education and martech-enabled digital media distribution. Through our support of traditional and for-profit colleges, trade schools, community colleges, boot camps, continuing education providers, OPMs and agencies, we have seen it all. Led by industry veterans and dating back to our founding in 2002, DMS Education provides predictable, scalable and reliable education marketing.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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