You can’t go through a year-long pandemic and not expect certain things to change. However, marketers are not adverse to change! Marketers have always lived in a world where consumer preferences are constantly changing and therefore forcing them to adapt. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the formation of our practices and digital has become a new normal.
As this year is flying by, it’s time to start thinking about the marketing trends that will shape 2022. The Digithrive For Schools team likes to make predictions about the future, so after a minute of reflection on the crystal ball and a little magic, these are our predictions of the trends to look out for in 2022
1. The Future of Events
When the pandemic forced closures, marketers were faced with the cancellation of all manner of in-person events. In their place, virtual events became a mainstay for engaging with parents and pupils. The increase in spending on social media and other digital platforms helped to make these events a success.
The desire to gather again is strong but having experienced the immediacy of live events from the comfort of their own homes, many parents are happy to keep things virtual. To cater to both audiences, you’ll need to arrange hybrid events.
Online events are always a great way to spread the word about your brand to your existing parent and potential new ones. Online events also provide other opportunities, such as directly gathering data on the audience attending the event. Later on, the data can be used to build profiles and communicate directly with them. It will eliminate the need to rely on third-party information and will help build a stronger relationship with your audience.
2. Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies
Google announced that it would end cookie tracking in 2023. Thankfully we have another year so let’s take the opportunity in 2022 to think on how to adapt to this change? What does it mean for your school? Tracking users across the web is essential to many schools but consumers are demanding more privacy and control over their data and marketers will need to adapt to this drastic change. There is already the option for people to opt-out of cookies and tracking but the digital market is already looking at ways to change its tactics
You could begin by increasing your efforts to gather and fully exploit first-party data which thankfully will remain in place. Or you could look into tools like Privacy Sandbox or FLoC personalisation and parent targeting without intruding on their privacy.
CRM tools, surveys, and interactive content will become increasingly instrumental to marketing success and you really should look into updating your CRM tools as this data which will become critical to your school once the tracking of cookies is no longer available.
3. Own Your Audiences
In reality, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media network owns your audience. So even if it has been working quite well for you, you should start owning your audience.
Think of your school’s audience in three different categories:
- Owned – You have a direct connection with this audience via data, including information such as name, company, title and email address, etc.
- Non-owned -This audience has expressed an interest in your school through a third-party, such as a follower or subscriber on any of your social media accounts. The goal here should be to convert your non-owned audience into an owned audience.
- Short-term – This audience is collected via a pixel or cookie and only lasts for around 30 days. The goal here is to move this audience down your funnel into one of the other areas.
What all this really means is you need your audience’s data. Ownership of this data will enable direct communications with your audience and you will no longer have to rely solely on third parties to make these connections and nurture your relationship with them.
4. Build Your Schools Brand Image
To create a strong brand image, you have to choose the right words and the right way to communicate. Focus on generating word of mouth by providing quality service to your school’s audience through quick communication.
While digital advertising should remain an important part of your marketing strategy, you should also try to organically increase your brand awareness.
Competition is intensifying, making it increasingly important to ensure that the online presence, printed materials, and even the exterior of school buildings make the right impression.
A strong and consistent brand is particularly important so make sure you have a distinctive logo, that print and design resonate with all school marketing materials, from the school website, brochures, and printed materials to school signage and outdoor displays.
Audiences have become more interested in unique and high-quality content. The blogging and influencer industry has grown exponentially!
Prioritising your work on longer and more thought-provoking content through blog posts and articles is an excellent tool for strong SEO. At the same time make these more interactive by adding quizzes, games and questions. Using Instagram interactive stories is a great way to put this across.
Posting content regularly on your school website is also a brilliant way to communicate with prospects and showcase the very best your school has to offer. But coming up with fresh ideas can be a struggle, which is why repurposing content is so important – using content you already have and presenting it in a new and exciting way. You may not realise it, but you already have lots of useful resources to turn to and find easy content ideas for schools to post.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to post every day. Better to provide higher quality content less frequently, but be sure that whatever you are delivering is relevant, engaging, and beneficial.
In 2022, we will have more and more channels for our customers to consume marketing content such as videos, online articles, podcasts, and so on. These will be different ways for schools to communicate with their audiences to engage them in their message. Make sure you understand what channels your school audience uses. Understanding which channels your audience use gives you the opportunity to personalise your message to each group making it more appealing to them individually.
Personalisation creates unique experiences for each of your school’s stakeholders. You could for example, personalise a landing page to reflect a customer’s location or use a dynamic ad.
2022 is going to pave the way for storytelling. Every school will need to deliver their school’s message in a way that tells a compelling story about their school. Audiences no longer want to hear how fabulous you are but want to hear your personal story of how you have managed to help and develop the young minds you teach.
Storytelling is the most effective marketing trend for today and tomorrow. However, you need to think about how to tell your story to engage with your audience, and how to tell a story that resonates with this audience.
From video to virtual reality, social media, and beyond, there are a host of mediums through which your school can tell its story. Discuss with your school’s leaders the story your school wants to portray and ensure that the team is on board with telling a compelling brand story that helps engage and influence your audience.
8. Marketing Automation
In 2022, we will see more data-driven marketing campaigns being used across a broader scope of schools. Adding marketing automation to your digital marketing strategy will make it more effective and efficient as you will be able to automate your workflows and spend less time on repetitive tasks.
Parents are becoming more and more savvy. So if you want to remain in front of them when they search online for information about schools, you must track what they see online: article titles, links being shared from other websites, or social media posts about your school that can help them in their decision-making process.
In general, it is about time to think of conversational (marketing) automation to build stronger relationships with your prospective parents and learn more about them.
2022 will bring in some fundamental changes to the way you market your school. The end of the cookies will have a huge impact on the digital advertising that many schools have been relying on. One thing is certain… the school audience will continue to become more demanding. That’s why it’s a good idea to start adapting alternative advertising methods: experiment, measure and ensure that they work. Expand your horizons on how you market your school and look forward to the excitement and challenges that 2022 is sure to bring.
If you would like more professional tips on marketing your schools do get in touch with the Digithrive For School’s team who are always happy to help. contact us here