7 Higher Education Marketing Conferences in 2017

With the online marketing landscape evolving quicker than most can keep up, successful digital marketing professionals work to stay on the cutting edge of technology and trends. Even in the past year, we’ve seen significant updates and changes to marketing and social platforms across the web such as new features on Instagram and Snapchat, as well as marketing platform updates on Facebook and Adwords.

The Higher Ed Marketing Journal has shed light on a handful of these changes and trends during 2017 through valuable insights, including:

Additional trends to watch out for in 2017 include the boom of online video in social platforms, continued growth of smartphone users in emerging markets, and the evolving power of Facebook advertising.

To better understand where marketing is heading in the field of higher education and to realize opportunities for synergy through networking, a number of higher education marketing conferences are in place for 2017.

The 2017 Carnegie Conference

This student recruitment focused conference comes to Orlando in early 2017 and is designed for marketing professionals and staff at all levels of an education institution. Aside from valuable insight from industry experts and carefully crafted presentations, the 2017 Carnegie Conference is taking place at Walt Disney World and includes exclusive access to backstage events.

: Feb 1-2, 2017

Where: Orlando, Florida

Website: http://www.carnegiecomm.com/resources/the-carnegie-conference/

Converge 2017

Converge 2017 is an annual higher education recruitment and inbound marketing conference that hosts a number of interactive workshops and handpicked presenters from institutions such as Harvard, UNC Chapel Hill, and Temple. The venue of this conference is the sunny Omni Ranch Las Palmas Resort & Spa located in sunny Rancho Mirage.

When: Feb 21-24, 2017

Where: Rancho Mirage, California

Website: http://convergeconsulting.org/converge2017/

2017 CASE Social Media Conference 

To stay up to date on the latest trends in social media, higher education professionals are attending this valuable conference in Spring 2017. This conference is appropriately named Social Media and Community and offers insight into strategic storytelling and social engagement in the realm of higher education. Hosted at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel, this conference is designed for enrollment professionals, alumni engagement professionals, administration, and more. 

When: March 13-15

Where: Los Angeles, CA

Website: http://www.case.org/Conferences_and_Training/SMC17.html

Innovations Conference

From global business leaders to higher education faculty and administrators, the 2017 Innovations Conference is designed to help professionals discover state of the art approaches to educating and learning. Located in San Francisco, this conference is a promising event to network with higher education professionals and absorb innovated presentations by industry leaders.

When: March 12-15, 2017

Where: San Francisco, CA

Website: https://www.league.org/inn2017/expo-and-sponsors

HACU 12th International Conference

This annual conference by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities focuses on innovation, trends, and research in international education. As universities continue to open their doors to international students, understanding model programs and funding prospects for the internationalization of higher education institutions is priceless. This conference is hosted at the Real InterContinental San José Costa Rica Hotel.

When: March 29-31, 2017

Where: San José, Costa Rica

Website: http://www.hacu.net/hacu/Call_for_Presentations_%28IC%292.asp

SMX London

Digital marketers continue to hone their skills in search marketing and search engine optimization and the SMX London conference in 2017 is a power tool for further their education. Created by Search Engine Land, this international conference is sure to impress with a variety of workshops, expos and cutting edge presentations. SMX London is located at 155 Bishopsgate on Liverpool Street in London.

When: May 23-24, 2017

Where: London, England

Website: http://marketinglandevents.com/smx/london/

2017 eduWeb Digital Summit  

In Summer 2017 comes the annual eduWeb Digital Summit which offers tracks for any type of higher education professional. These tracks range from email marketing to data analytics, to mobile design and strategy. A variety of valuable workshops and networking events are offered to attendees to this innovative conference located at the Westin Copley Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts.

When: August 7-9, 2017

Where: Boston, Massachusetts


AMA Higher Education Conference 2017

Late 2017 promises to deliver the annual AMA Higher Education Conference which brings together a large group of higher education professionals and exceptional keynote speakers. This yearly conference offers a host of valuable networking opportunities with like-minded professionals. 2016 brought impressive presentations from leadership at Emory University, Edelman, and more.

When: November 12-15 2017

Where: Atlanta

Website (2016): https://www.ama.org/events-training/Conferences/Pages/2016-Symposium-for-the-Marketing-of-Higher-Education.aspx?tab=home


FreddieFrederic has five years experience in higher education content marketing and search engine optimization. Working with Circa Interactive, he has gained valuable experience in paid search, analytics, SEO strategy, and client management. Frederic excels in process optimization, strategic content marketing, and management and implementation of daily witty jokes. Follow him on twitter @FredHigherEd

Need More Student Inquiries? Start Building Relationships

Relationships in digital marketing are rooted in effective communication and trust. Developing long-term relationships with university stakeholders, students and alumni, and a slew of media contacts are key to continued success in higher education internet marketing. By looking past individuals as clients or potential leads and taking the time to listen, explain, and ask questions, it’s possible to better understand hesitations and establish mutually beneficial goals. This post will highlight a few relationships to maintain for success:

1. Develop Strong Relationships with University Stakeholders

As a marketing company looking to push an institution’s brand into the spotlight in its best light, we often have detailed meetings with stakeholders. Stakeholders at universities can include presidents and vice presidents, communication and marketing directors, and program directors and faculty.

It must be apparent in kickoff meetings that our team understands a university and program brand, voice, target audiences, and more. By demonstrating that we have done the research, it is easy to clearly layout goals of the marketing efforts and begin asset creation.

How does this influence lead generation?

Our goals are to produce the best results for our clients in the most efficient way possible. By building relationships rooted in trust with academic partners, we are often given the freedom to create the wide variety of content needed to be successful in higher education digital marketing. Without trust, stakeholders may scrutinize and nitpick every step of the marketing process, which is an uphill battle that’s hard to endure.

Example: Stakeholders

At the start, a program director for a master’s in computer science program was hesitant to approve content to be shared on their website that didn’t mimic graduate level scholarly articles. We carefully explained our marketing goals, target audiences, and knowledge of the program, university brand, and industry.

By sharing the potential of engaging content in the digital sphere, the program director gained a better understanding of the content’s goals and allowed for more creative approaches to content creation. This trust lead to multiple videos, infographics, and blogs generating social shares, building backlinks, and an increase of the program’s online brand and SERP rankings.

2. Student Relationships are Key

As an arm of the university’s marketing department, developing relationships with students and alumni can be crucial to overall success. A team of well organized and knowledgeable admissions advisors work to inform and build relationships with potential students. This team also works to retain students for the duration of the program by periodically checking up on them to make sure they are succeeding in their program.

On the other hand, by working closely with current students and alumni to share their experience and success, during and after a degree program, marketers can build lasting relationships. Student success can be highlighted in videos, quotes, social media posts, and other forms of content creation.

How does this influence student inquiries?

The primary marketing goal for programs is to generate as many student inquiries and students as possible that remain in the program for its duration. Admissions counselors that are passionate about the program and university brand are able to develop relationships with potential students.

Admissions counselors can work through the various levels of friction and anxiety a potential student may have about an online degree program. Students who find success in your degree programs present the perfect opportunity for your marketing team to create high-quality content. This content, including testimonials and alumni features, will provide your marketing team with powerful tools to stimulate social validation and influence lead flow.

Example: Students

After receiving a prospect’s information, an enrollment advisor for an MBA program reached out to learn more about the prospective student and uncover their true ambitions. Leveraging a consultative approach, the enrollment advisor worked through the student’s hesitations and learned her true goal was to make her family proud through an MBA degree. The advisor built a relationship by taking the time to learn about the individual student’s goals and working to alleviate her doubts. Because of this, the student applied and found success through the degree program and offered a testimonial for the marketing team use in lead generation efforts.

3. Get to Know Journalists and Media in your Niche

Whether it is announcing university events, sending out press releases, or sharing program content with the digital world, carefully crafted relationships with the media are crucial. To run a productive, geo-specific marketing campaign for a university, a positive relationship with local beat reporters can go a long way.

For larger content marketing and digital PR campaigns, fruitful relationships can be built with editors, bloggers, website owners, thought leaders, and a variety of other influential individuals. Carefully crafted pitches are sent to relevant media contacts in order to build long-term relationships. These pitches often share infographics and videos or offer exclusive professor quotes and bylines opportunities. By understanding the goals of the media contact and their website, long-term mutually beneficial relationships can be created.

How does this influence lead generation?

Our goal of student generation is possible with the help of search engine optimization, social media, and branded marketing campaigns. Without strategic media contacts throughout the industry, running digital PR and SEO campaigns is terribly difficult. Establishing industry-specific relationships with the media allow for us to land consistent placements on some of the top digital publications. Mutually beneficial relationships with editors, bloggers, and website owners allow us to help guide strategic university messaging in the news, while offering the media an array of valuable content to share with their visitors.

Example: Media

As part of a digital PR strategy for a computer science program, we interviewed a professor that focuses in the security and infrastructure of the Internet of Things. As technology news broke, we pitched opportunities to large publications to quote or receive a byline from said professor. In doing so a relationship was created with a technology editor at Forbes.com.

This relationship initially helped the professor share their expertise, helped the editor build a compelling story, and assisted with our marketing efforts through a strong backlink and increase in program visibility. By leveraging the relationship with the Forbes editor, we were able to share more program content on the influential publication as well as build opportunities for professors across other programs.

All in All

As digital marketers with the (almost) infinite internet at our fingertips, it can be difficult to take the time to develop favorable relationships with bloggers, journalists, and editors that goes beyond a few emails. It’s also possible to fall into a situation of poorly communicating marketing strategies to stakeholders and treating students as leads instead of unique individuals. In order to succeed, relationship creation is crucial. Effective marketers take the time to listen and respect other individuals they work with in order to develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships.


 Frederic has five years experience in higher education content marketing and search engine optimization. Working with Circa Interactive, he has gained valuable experience in paid search, analytics, SEO strategy, and client management. Frederic excels in process optimization, strategic content marketing, and management of Circa Interactive’s successful internship program. Follow him on twitter @FredHigherEd


6 Ways Prospective Students Find Degree Programs Online [Video]

Online education has taken large steps towards a highly regarded and powerful industry over the past decade. Increased trust toward these types of degrees have stemmed from elite, traditional universities emerging in the online higher education market. The continued development in communication technologies and an increase in savvy online tools have cleared the air of a once cloudy online learning environment.

With this open window into higher education, the current workforce has an opportunity to expand their knowledge and gain graduate level degrees while continuing their day-to-day responsibilities. Universities are investing in professors and tools to provide top-notch education to their future students. Students are using the tools at their disposal to find the right program for their goals.

Higher education institutions are faced with the challenge of shifting from traditional marketing tactics (billboard, print ads, brochures, radio, etc.) to newer methods in order to strategically place their brand in the sights of prospective students. The competitive nature of online higher education is pushing institution’s marketing teams towards new platforms such as SnapChat, Instagram, and new video marketing tactics.

How Do Prospective Students Find Their Online Program?

Today, students pursing online degrees search for them, you guessed it, online. 67% of prospective students use search engines as their first source of information for higher education institutions, so it is more important than ever to have an active presence on major search engines in order to get your program and brand in front of potential students. The video below, created by our content team at Circa Interactive, provides a quick run through of the top 6 ways that students find degree programs online.


Organic Search

Organic search is the natural, unpaid search that occurs on search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). If your website is optimized for your core keywords and ranks in the search results, organic traffic is a flow of free visitors to your website. Even better, if your website is on the first page of results for a keyword (ex. Master in engineering program), you are in a good position to receive these free visits.

Fun Fact: Over 70% of users click on a result on the first page.



Paid Search

While organic search is the natural results shown when a user searches in a search engine, paid search is just the opposite. As shown in the video, paid ads appear on the top, sides, and bottom of the Google search results. These ads are shown based on the search query a prospective student used and a generally marked with the word ‘Ad.’

Fun Fact: 64% of users click on a paid ad when they’re looking to purchase a product or service.



Organic Social

Similar to organic search, organic social are the general social posts shared by individuals, institutions, or companies. Popular platforms for universities to leverage to place their programs in front of students are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Fun Fact: 38% of users are influenced by a school’s social media engagement



Paid Social

Paid social ads are the ads you see in social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These advertisements are a proven way to generate students for an online program. Paid social ads are able to be targeted to very specific groups of potential students.

Fun Fact: 57% of students use social media to research universities.



Digital PR

Another way to place your program and brand in front of potential students is to use the respectable faculty and stakeholders at your university. Through a multichannel PR approach, students are able to see professors published in major news outlets such as Wired, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and more.

Fun Fact: The Huffington Post has 33,647,468 unique visitors per month.




While Digital PR works to land opportunities for professors in news outlets and publications around the web, display advertising places highly focused visual advertisements on these same websites. These powerful advertisements are proven to generate high quality traffic to a program’s webpage.

Fun Fact: The Google Display Network includes more than 2 million sites.


While the 6 avenues for student acquisition highlighted in the video cover most of the options available, there are many other tactics for savvy marketers to leverage to place their brand in front of prospective students. To find out how to locate students for your program, drop us a line here.


how students find degree programs hemj image

FreddieFrederic has three years experience in higher education content marketing and search engine optimization. Working with Circa Interactive, he has gained valuable experience in paid search, analytics, SEO strategy, and client management. Follow him on Twitter: @FredHigherEd

The 2015 Higher Education Marketing Journal Year in Review

Here we are, back to work in 2016. The Higher Education Marketing Journal (HEMJ) had a momentous 2015, seeing a double in the number of subscribers. We are working to continue to create engaging and actionable content in the coming year to exceed the growth we have seen in the past few years. It has been a productive year at Circa Interactive, and we are happy to highlight our successful posts and content from 2015.

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Our HEMJ subscribers range from university marketing departments and leadership to some of the top digital marketers in the industry.

To highlight our successful HEMJ posts from 2015, I’ve separated them into the following categories:

  • Organic Social Media
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Digital PR
  • Student Generation
  • Online Learning

Our content team has built upwards of 30 articles this year describing various facets of higher education Internet marketing. The following are links to our popular posts in case you missed them!

Organic Social Media

Boosting Social Media Image

As the online education industry continues to grow, we’ve seen an increase in demand for a strong social presence for university programs and colleges. Social programs across various platforms work to dish out information surrounding degree programs, faculty, current students, alumni, and the larger program-specific industry. Regardless of the social platform, imagery is essential for engagement. Our head designer, Jordan Opel, describes how to create a custom image to build awareness for a university event.

Speaking of spectacular imagery, is your university program on Instagram? There are endless content ideas to share through this platform such as current students, research equipment, faculty highlights, and more. Our very own Audrey Willis offers six tips to boost your university’s Instagram presence.

Once your social platform is established and content created, the next step is to build engagement. Tami Cruz offers four strategic tips to boost your college’s social media engagement. Want to know who’s killing it at content and engagement? Public relations manager Caroline Khalili shares her five personal must-follow university social accounts.

Social Media Marketing


When it comes to student acquisition in higher education, social media marketing is an increasingly valuable tool. The potential audience size and very detailed targeting features allow for effective spending of marketing budgets. Our paid search manager Andrew Glasser paves the way in this category with an insightful post into maximizing Facebook Ad performance.

With the growth in targeting abilities and tracking, Facebook has become a very strong contender for marketing dollars in higher education. While Andrew dissects the account specifics, our lead designer, Jordan, works on the creative front of Facebook advertising with this well crafted post describing how to construct a Facebook promoted post.

Just as important as Facebook advertising in higher education is the limitless abilities to target potential students through Linkedin’s robust marketing platform. Earlier this year, our CEO Robert Lee laid out his insights into Linkedin’s targeting with his post, “5 Ways to Target Potential Students with Linkedin Paid Ads.”

Facebook and Linkedin advertising have been open to the public for a few years now, but a more recent addition to the marketing field is Pinterest advertising, which opened reservation-based Promoted Pins on January 1, 2015. Our digital marketing intern wrapped up his time at Circa with a walkthrough of driving students to a university with Promoted Pins.

Whether you are pushing your social media marketing budget toward Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest or the various other platforms, our paid search manager has you covered. Here’s Andrew’s powerful marketer’s guide, “A Higher Education Marketer’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization: Paid Social.”

Digital Public Relations 

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We are happy to have introduced our newest service offering to our higher education clients in 2015: Digital Public Relations. This tactic combines traditional PR, SEO, Branding, and Student Acquisition and is a powerful strategy in the current online marketplace. The newest member to our PR team is George Bradley, a digital marketing specialist out of the UK. By creating content for a variety of degree programs, George is on the forefront of industry news and his latest post offers his top four online tools to discover content for a university PR strategy.

A valued tool that our PR team frequently leverages to pitch programs, professors, and content to journalist and editors worldwide is CisionPoint. Cision has recently merged with Vocus and is a database of contacts and outreach platform that is leading the future of digital PR. Don’t have experience with Cision? Our social media and PR intern Sarah Song put together a step-by-step beginner’s guide to Cision at the start of 2015.

Content Marketing

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Content marketing has proven to be a valuable tool in digital marketing. Within the realm of higher education, there is a wealth of opportunity to produce consumable and engaging content to appeal to large audiences. Here at Circa, we create many different styles of content including videos, whitepapers, professor profiles, and infographics. Our marketing director and content marketing specialist, Frederic Lee (yours truly), put together two round-ups of his favorite higher education infographics in the industry: best health infographics and best business infographics in higher education.

We also released our very own infographic titled, “Creative Ways to Make Higher Education More Affordable.” This graphics aims to shed light on the opposite side of the college tuition rise debate by showing examples of ways universities are saving money. Take a look and feel free to share!

Student Generation


When it comes down to it, we are in the business of student generation. We aim to match potential students with the appropriate university program to meet and exceed their goals. Our COO, Clayton Dean, offers a decade of experience in student generation and shared his knowledge through two priceless posts in 2015.

Clayton’s first post is helpful for those university marketing departments who are struggling with where to push their marketing dollars. He offers two powerful ways to generate more leads on a limited budget. His next post points out a far too familiar scenario: A potential student visits your landing page, fails to convert, and goes on their way never to be heard from again. To tackle this issue, Clayton lays out 5 Reasons Why Setting Up Retargeting is Essential for Your Higher Ed Marketing Strategy. In addition to our COO’s valuable student generation posts in 2015, we published a contributor post from Josh Haynam, co-found of Interact. In this article, Josh introduces leveraging quizzes in higher education lead generation.

Online Learning 


The Higher Education Marketing Journal covers a large scope of online marketing tactics and strategy. Some of our most successful posts are high level articles about the online education industry and are written by our most experience contributors. CEO Robert Lee offered his insights on a market feasibility study to understand demand for an online program while our top contributor, Scott Levine, built two powerful posts that demonstrated his expertise in the industry.

Scott’s first post lays out a prescription for success for online nursing degrees and acts as a guide to those looking to push an RN-BSN online. Scott’s second post is a clever remake of Stephen Covey’s, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” By applying this post to the higher education industry, Scott created, “The Seven Attributes of Highly Effective Online Degrees.”

More to Come in 2016

As we pave our way into the New Year, expect to see consistent content being added to HEMJ from our variety of employees and contributors. If you’d like to see us tackle a specific issue relevant to you, don’t hesitate to comment below or send us a message here. We wish all of our subscribers the best in 2016!

Follow me on Twitter for more updates: @FredHigherEd

FreddieFrederic Lee has four years experience in higher education content marketing and SEO. Working with Circa Interactive, he has gained valuable experience in paid search, analytics, SEO strategy, and client management. Frederic excels in process optimization, strategic content marketing, and management of Circa Interactive’s successful internship program.


Fred’s Favorite University Infographics – Health Edition

As a digital marketer working with dozens of universities across the United States, I help design, research, and distribute infographics across numerous industry niches. With goals of branding, increasing traffic, and SEO link building, infographics must be carefully crafted and well polished in order to be successful.

Earlier this year I selected my four favorite business-themed infographics created by U.S. universities. In that post I highlighted graphics from the University of Vermont, Abilene Christian University, University of Scranton, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Today I am sharing my favorite university-created infographics with a health focus. With the ever-increasing research and conversation surrounding such areas as electronic health records, bioinformatics, and healthcare reform, the health industry has a wealth of opportunity for successful infographics.

Here are a few qualities I like to find in a well-crafted infographic:
  • Engaging and unique topic
  • Researched and organized data points
  • Storytelling throughout the graphic
  • Clean design and data visualizations

While four infographics made this list, many did not. Two aspects of unsuccessful infographics are poor design elements and hyper promotional content. In the world of university program specific infographics, being overly promotional is a turnoff to many potential publishers and sharers. Nobody likes hearing a person or brand bragging and the same goes with infographics.

Secondly, poor color choices and sloppy design can make even the best of topics hard to chew. Sometimes the data points and content of an infographic can be dry, and it is up to a creative designer to make this information consumable. To help liven up dry content, a designer can use icons, charts and graphs. Strategic use of colors, bolding, and subheadings can also help. It is the designer’s job to guide the reader’s eyes through the flow of the graphic.

Without further ado, here are Fred’s Favorite University Infographics: Health Edition.

Adelphi University Master of Healthcare Informatics Online

Telemedicine and Health Informatics Career Opportunities

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Enter the full infographic here: http://onlinemshidegree.adelphi.edu/resources/infographics/telemedicine-and-health-informatics/

When a university creates content surrounding careers, it is easy to fall in the overly promotional trap. This Adelphi University program does a fine job of objectively listing facts and statistics surrounding these health tech careers. Here are a few of the positives of this graphic:

  • The title image of this graphic is fantastic with a simple, high-tech design. The title image creatively adds to the overall message of the technical career growth in health care.
  • The story of this graphic has a powerful flow. Beginning with technology growth and moving into job opportunities, the graphic finishes up with an interesting segment on health care disparity in U.S. rural areas.
  • Strong data points back up all claims in the graphic and help tell the vital story of career opportunities in this developing industry.

New Jersey Institute of Technology Online Master of Computer Science

Bioinformatics: How Computer Science in Changing Biology

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Enter the full infographic here:


It might seem strange seeing a computer science program’s infographic in this list. The convergence of computer science and health makes the content of this graphic powerful and highly relevant in the current health care industry. Here are some favorable aspects to this NJIT infographic:

  • The topic and research behind this graphic is revolutionary and very newsworthy. This aspect is very important in the distribution stage.
  • Imagery usage throughout helps make complex points easier to understand. The images accompanying the genome information help the reader visualize the complex information.

University of Florida Distance Learning Doctor of Pharmacy

Acetaminophen: Still the Safest Way to Alleviate Pain?

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Enter the full infographic here:


The design of this graphic is unique in the sense of the wider dimensions than is generally seen. This dimension alteration allows for different visualization of data, including a short and powerful title. This graphic made the list for a few reasons:

  • The newsworthy and edgy topic of this graphic makes it very shareable. Any piece of content that challenges the pharmaceutical industry with hard data is bound to be of interest to individuals online.
  • This graphic has a clean design that complements the wider dimensions. The content is at times in three columns and design elements help guide the reader’s eyes through data sets and statistics.

Norwich University Master of Science in Nursing Online

Leadership and Hierarchy in Hospitals

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Enter the full infographic here:


Norwich University constructed this thought provoking infographic that challenges the hierarchy of hospitals in a variety of ways. The graphic paints a not so pretty picture of U.S. hospital CEO demographics, which are dominated by males sometimes with little-to-no health care sector experience. This eye opening infographic made the list for the following reasons:

  • The first section of the graphic is beautifully designed. At times, designers are faced with visualizing large blocks of text. The geared approach and icons help make this section consumable to the viewer.
  • As with other great infographics, the content is full of impressive data points. Percentages, charts and graphics are important pieces to infographics, and this clean research sets the designer up for success.

That wraps it up for this edition of Fred’s Favorite University Infographics. Keep an eye out for next time when I dive into the field of criminal justice and locate my favorite four graphics created by universities and their marketing teams. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FredHigherEd

Fred’s Favorite University Infographics: Business Edition

There’s no denying the power of well designed and carefully distributed infographics in higher education Internet marketing. These visuals are mighty tools for link building, driving traffic, and building a university’s brand. To take a step back as to how to define an infographic, I asked Google.com.

In the simplest terms, the definition above describes an infographic. When considering an infographic in terms of marketing, think infoposter. They are much more than simply charts and diagrams. I would add to the quote above, “A good infographic makes a thousand words feel like a hundred words.”

While it is easy to point out flaws in an infographic, it is harder to establish what exactly makes a good infographic. Here is an excellent creation guide: How to Make an Infographic Work. Also, here are a few qualities I look for in a well-designed infographic:

  • Newsworthy and interesting topic
  • Engaging and well designed title
  • Researched and organized data points
  • Storytelling throughout the graphic
  • Clean design and data set visualizations

Enough rambling, let’s jump right into my five favorite business infographics created by a few universities and their marketing teams. The following graphics fall under the business niche. Enjoy!

University of Vermont’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA
A Look at Sustainable Global Business

This well designed infographic from UVM made my list of favorites for a number of reasons:

  • The companies listed and facts given are on point. The research behind the six company’s sustainable efforts is informative and impactful.
  • The design and data organization makes the information flow smoothly with clear visualization of data sets.
  • The color scheme complements the content with beautiful green color palette.

Enter the full graphic here:


Abilene Christian University Master’s in Conflict Resolution
9 Rules for Managing Conflict at Work

We’ve all seen floods of list-style infographics. In my eyes, there are a few factors as to why this one makes the cut:

  • Clear organization of data points. The nine rules are very consumable and have specific data points for support.
  • Hierarchy of information allows the viewer to read deeper into each point as they choose.
  • Strong design and image choices that allow the reader to consume the main points effortlessly.

Enter the full graphic here:


University of Scranton MBA
Targeting Your MBA Specialization

While scratching the surface of self-promotion, this well crafted infographic made the list because of these key points:

  • Clean data visualization that eases the viewer into the more detailed content later in the graphic. Note the snippet seen above.
  • Informative, research-backed content. This graphic’s strength lies in its description of exact careers and salaries backed by reputable sources.
  • Very relevant to an audience of prospective students. Students want to know this information, often doing the research themselves, and this is a highly consumable presentation of the facts.

Enter the full graphic here:


New Jersey Institute of Technology MBA
Too Big to Fail: The Five Largest Financial Institutions


While a little text heavy in some spots, this graphic made the list for the following reasons:

  • Newsworthy, edgy, and engaging content. An unbiased graphic of the power and effect of the U.S. banking system is a powerful tool.
  • Clean design of differing sections and consumable data visualizations throughout the graphic.
  • Research backed data points from reputable sources across the Internet add to the power of the graphic.

Enter the full infographic here:

That wraps it up for this edition of Fred’s Favorite Higher Ed Infographics. Stay tuned next time as I dive into infographics from nursing and health programs and we see which ones make the cut. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @FredHigherEd

The team I work with at Circa Interactive researches and creates infographics for colleges and universities across the country. Would you like to create a compelling infographic but lack the internal resources to do so? Give us a shout, we’d be happy to help.

Leveraging Research and Faculty in HigherEd Internet Marketing

As outlined in the previous post, the competitiveness of online higher education marketing is at an all time high, and in order to stand out in this over-saturated environment, universities must leverage what makes them unique: their faculty. Mirroring my last post breaking down the marketing opportunities surrounding current students and alumni, this post will describe a few ways faculty can be utilized to boost marketing efforts. Faculty involvement can increase brand awareness, help create a steady flow of high quality backlinks and through social media, put the pieces together to build a virtual learning community.

While the university brand backs an online program, often times it is the faculty that are deemed the face of the program. A program director, distinguished professor, adjunct professors and even faculty research can all be leveraged to help an online degree program show their unique strengths in the online atmosphere.

Faculty research-backed content

Faculty and university research is a great place to start when generating content surrounding a program. Examining this research gives a marketer the opportunity to understand the newest discoveries in a given field as well as a clearer grasp of the direction of the program as a whole. With this in mind, content can be created either directly using the research or more loosely based around the focused subject matter. A few content creation ideas include:

  • Infographics visualizing research
  • Article/blogs to be housed as program resources
  • Byline articles describing research goals
  • Videos explaining research and tools/technologies (example below)

Establishing faculty as thought leader in their industry

Faculty members are prime candidates to be considered thought leaders in their field. They not only work day in and day out on the cutting edge advancements in the industry, but they have a hand in educating the next generation of, let’s say, electrical engineers. In order to help facilitate thought leadership, these individuals can be guided to comment and write for major publications in their industry. These publications can be in the form of bylines articles, Q&A opportunities and expert commentary. Publishing articles and developing a genuine social media following can boost a faculty member to the status of thought leader.

Once a faculty member’s expertise is recognized online, conversation can grow around their interests, specifically their work with the degree program. With this increased visibility, other industry thought leaders, current and prospective students, and alumni will be encouraged to continue to develop the conversation around the program and engage with the current students, faculty and research.

Becoming the face of an online degree program 

With or without (preferably with) recognition as thought leaders in their field, faculty can be viewed as the “face behind the program.” Online, it is important to make the learning atmosphere as personalized as possible so students feel included in a sort of virtual learning environment. Faculty can be leveraged in a variety of ways to build this trust and personalization including:

  • Videos explaining the program, faculty and research
  • Interactive webinars describing courses and research
  • Faculty written articles/blogs
  • Social media platforms with real time industry and program updates

In regards to the last bullet point, faculty members should be actively involved in the social media platforms of the university or, specifically, the program in which they teach. Additionally, they can encourage student engagement in social media in order to build brand awareness surrounding the program and university and continue to develop the ideal virtual learning community.

Here are a few examples of professors that are heavily engaged on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/MichaelEPorter (Harvard Business School)
https://twitter.com/SlaughterAM (Princeton University)
https://twitter.com/marionnestle (New York University)


Thanks for reading – follow me on Twitter for updates and insights into the world of higher education Internet marketing! @FredHigherEd

Circa Interactive at the 2014 eduWeb Conference in Baltimore

This week Circa Interactive is attending the 2014 eduWeb conference located in Baltimore, Maryland. We traveled across the country and set up our booth with one question in mind: What is your greatest marketing challenge? We are gathering these marketing questions, and in the next couple months, we will answer them on the Higher Education Marketing Journal. Here are a few of the unique marketing challenges of the conference attendees we have conversed with so far.


Attracting leadersLaurenLSUMarketing BudgetPowers that beWPIWhat's next


Keep an eye out for the answers to these questions and more on the Higher Education Marketing Journal and please feel free to reach out with you own marketing challenges in higher education on out twitter @HigherEdMktgJ.



Leveraging Current and Former Students in Higher Education Internet Marketing

At times, marketing managers may be left scratching their heads when deciding how to attract more students towards their programs. While the Higher Education Marketing Journal covers a number of areas for improvement, one way in particular is taking advantage of the resources already present in the university community, specifically students and alumni. Universities generally have a wealth of information about their students and can use this information to boost their Internet marketing campaigns.

From this knowledge, a marketer can surmise many statistics of their students such as the average age, gender, and undergraduate study choices. This information, which is attained mainly through admission’s paper work and transcripts, is useful to marketers in a number of areas. Primarily, it is essential in understanding the target audience and creating accurate student personas. Knowing, in detail, the various student personas that choose a program, is an incredibly important facet in creating a detailed and focused online marketing campaign.

With a clear understanding of the students that are attracted to a program, a marketer can put together a targeted strategy that speaks directly to this audience. For example, a Master of Science in Health Law may attract a female audience aged 40-50, while a Master of Computer Information Systems may attract a male audience aged 25-35. When positioned correctly, a university’s brand and unique value propositions can attract a different audience than the same program at a different university. Marketers must understand their students in order to foster their targeting, tone, and value propositions towards the correct audience. Learn more about unique value propositions in our earlier post.


Leveraging Student Information 

There is no denying the benefits of utilizing landing pages in an Internet marketing campaign. In order to optimize these landing pages to be well received by perspective students, marketers can use the information generated by current and former students. The tone, imagery, and value propositions offered in these campaigns should be targeted toward their students. In addition to the landing pages, a university can use this content across many pages of their website to help offer prospective students additional information.

Apart from understanding a target student market, as mentioned before, marketers can also use current student images, quotes, and testimonials, as well as alumni images, quotes, and highlights. Putting together clean and informative student and alumni highlights such as this one below from the University of Southern California Online LL.M. program can appeal to the many prospective students that visit a university website.


An alternative way to utilize current and former students on a university website is by making a video of student testimonials. These student clips can be combined with segments speaking to the unique value propositions of the university, as well as commentary of faculty and staff. These videos are easily consumable and affective in establishing a connection between prospective students and a university brand. Here is an example of a video testimonial created by the University of Florida’s Distance Learning website:


Alumni Highlights on University Websites

While current student profiles and testimonials are excellent in helping with the conversion process of an Internet marketing campaign, alumni can also be used in the same manner. Many students pursue higher education in order to boost their careers, and by offering highlights of alumni who are successful, these students get a first hand look at the ROI of their investment. Take a look at this following portion of an alumna highlight profile from Johns Hopkins University.


Leveraging Students to Boost Social Media Campaigns

Taking advantage of what a university has to offer is an easy and quick way to find content for social media campaigns. Each student profile, alumni highlight, and video testimonial has the potential to reach a large social media audience, as well as stimulate engagements and dialogue surrounding the program. Complemented by quality images, social posts can be constructed around this previously created content.

Marketers can also take the time to reach out to current students in order to build a repertoire of student testimonials and images. Similarly, alumni can be contacted for updates on their careers and quotes about their experiences with a program. If the alumni are eager to work with the program, they may be willing to develop into a brand ambassador for the program and assist in spreading the message of program success across social media. Take a look at this Facebook post highlighting an alumnus from Ohio University’s Online Coaching Education program.


As the competitiveness of the online higher education field continues to increase, marketers must be savvy in finding ways to attract students and build their brand awareness. An important piece of this puzzle is taking advantage of the content currently housed by the university community, as well as the connections to current and former students. Creating and sharing fresh, quality content will continue to be an incredibly important facet to the field of Internet marketing, and gathering the resources already available is an easy and effective way to pursue this strategy.

Utilizing University Branding in Internet Marketing

There is no doubting the competitiveness of the higher education field in internet marketing. With factors such as high ROI and strong marketing budgets, many universities spend the time and resources to develop large-scale online marketing strategies. While some online programs are backed by highly respected and well know brands, others may fly under the radar as smaller universities with niche specific audiences.

Whichever it may be, deeply understanding your university brand and utilizing the proper imagery, tone, text, and feel consistently across all marketing efforts can be greatly beneficial to the perception of your brand in the eyes of prospective students, as well as the entire university community.

Understanding Your Brand

In order for a university to utilize their brand across their marketing platforms, they must first deep dive into what exactly their unique brand is. This is a common concept for marketing strategies and can consist of a few pieces, including a brand DNA document. A few important facets of this document are to describe the brand’s underlying message and key attributes, define the target audience for the brand, and establish a fluid voice and style. Some universities choose to ask for outside help when defining the intricacies of their brand DNA, and some tackle this challenge in house, but regardless of the means, this is an essential step in establishing a successful brand image.

When putting the pieces of the puzzle together describing a target audience, universities can look at the data they have on hand through application and current student information. They must consider the age, sex, family status, and location of their students, among other characteristics. A university offering an online masters in education program will have a different audience than even the same university offering an online masters in curriculum and instruction. For this reason, it is necessary to outline the branding for each individual program offered.

What Makes Your Program Different?

A key component to developing a program’s unique brand is understanding the key attributes of the program, defining what sets this program apart from the same program offered at other universities. A few factors may include costs associated, statistics involving student success after graduation, reverence for the particular university brand, or the expertise and dedication of university faculty and staff. Whichever the case may be, the key attributes of a program need to be noted and included consistently throughout marketing strategies.

As Robert described in his previous post, “Landing Page Conversion Formula in Higher Education Part 2: Value Proposition” these key attributes are defined as a brand’s UVP or unique value prop.

Style Guides and Tone

A style guide or style manual is used to establish the exact fonts, colors, formatting, design, and writing style of a brand. While this may differ from program to program, universities should define the exacts of their style to remain consistent throughout their entire website and internet marketing efforts.

Universities should also determine the tone they would like to use in written text. Because of the high level of education and professionalism associated with universities, this tone may shy away from cleverness and sarcasm and be rooted in seriousness and respect.

Brand and Style in Landing Pages

Again, as emphasized in Robert’s previous post, a universities unique value prop, as well as their unique brand image should be clearly visible to a visitor to a landing page. Because universities are paying for visitors landing on these pages, they should have their best foot forward and eager to help smiles across their faces. Visitors should take in the brand’s colors, logos, and fonts, whether consciously or subconsciously, and click through or leave the page with a positive feel leading to brand recognition in the near future. This brand recognition will come in handy with remarketing efforts. Take a look at the branding and imagery on this landing page by the University of Maryland:



What to Avoid when Creating Landing Pages:

  • Unclear branding style across landing pages
  • Undefined target audience, fostering text to the wrong audience
  • Lack of Unique Value Proposition
  • Disregard for brand’s tone by sounding too promotional

Brand and Style in Social Media

Just as a brand should be well established for website content and landing page efforts, it is equally important to continue this strategy in social media campaigns. Whether a university is working with paid advertising in social media or running a traditional social media campaign, tone, style, and imagery should be consistent throughout. While font and color can be difficult factors to display through tweets and posts, a well-designed image with text can be a suitable solution. A poorly put together social media account can directly transfer into negative public relations for the university. Boring or inconsistent posts can leave individuals thinking a university has a lack of interest in keeping their followers informed and involved in their doings. Take a look at the social media branding and messaging in this post by Ohio University:



What to Avoid in Social Media Campaigns

  • Inconsistent publishing schedule
  • Conflicting messaging tones and styles
  • Lack of imagery and color
  • Poorly written posts with spelling and grammatical errors

Brand and Style in Infographics

Infographics are a powerful tool in internet marketing, not only demonstrating the research and expertise of a specific program, but also increasing brand awareness online. These graphics can cover a spread of newsworthy topics relevant to program research and are easily consumable and shareable. While it is terribly important to have complete and accurate research represented, with double checked facts and text, it is also imperative to note the branding of these graphics. Viewers should absorb the information offered as well as the branding styles and imagery.

What to Avoid when Creating Infographics

  • Inconsistent branding imagery and color
  • Boring content shown in uninteresting ways
  • Incorrect research or facts
  • Excessive text that is hard to consume