Future of Digital Marketing: 8 Experts Share Their Predictions

With voice search and machine learning on the rise, we reached out to 8 digital marketing experts to get their insights on these developing technologies and share predictions on the future of digital marketing.

Read on to discover insights from industry leading digital marketing companies like Backlinko, Search Engine Land and many more.

 

We Asked Experts in the Field to Share Their Thoughts on the Future of Digital Marketing

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Brian Dean

Brian Dean

Founder & CEO at Backlinko

@Backlinko

 

1. Voice Search

It’s already HUGE. And it’s only going to get bigger.

Already huge: 40% of US adults use voice search once per day.

Going to get bigger: comScore estimates that 50% of ALL searches will be voice searches within the next 2 years.

And I’ve seen this myself. I’ve found myself talking more to my computer and phone than ever before. And as the technology improves, I’m going to type less and talk more.

2. Video

Like voice search, video is “the next big thing” that’s already here. I mean, YouTube is already the 2nd most popular website online (even more than Facebook).

But in many ways, video is just getting started. More and more people are producing videos for Instagram, Facebook and other platforms like LinkedIn. It’s also much easier to create a decent video on the cheap than in the past.

The data backs this up: Cisco reports that 81% of all traffic will be video by 2021.

3. Quality Over Quantity

Blog posts. Images. Podcasts. There’s WAY too much content online.

And people are tuning out: Email open rates are down. Blogs are losing readers. Facebook posts are getting ignored.

In short, people are focusing more on reading, watching and listening to the best stuff.

So marketers that focus on quality over quantity are going to have a big edge over the competition in 2018.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Robert Lee

Robert Lee

Co-founder & CEO at Circa Interactive

@CircaRob

 

1. Pullback on Persona Based Targeting Opportunities

It’s been a bumpy road for Facebook over the last six months. With the backlash around privacy concerns and the Russian election meddling, the platform has had to take drastic measures to ease the concerns of Facebook users by providing increased insight into how individuals can tighten up their personal information, while also introducing steps to eliminate some of the platform’s most useful targeting options.

Facebook even launched a large scale advertising campaign apologizing for their missteps and promising improvements into the future.

The most interesting aspect of all of this is the ripple affect spread across other digital environments that have mirrored Facebook in regards to their information collection processes.

Most of these platforms followed suit and many users noticed new alerts pop-up within these environments notifying them of new privacy and information collection policies.

While providing this level of insight to consumers is great, advertisers that rely on these platforms to drive targeted traffic will experience challenges. This could be the last nail in the coffin for more traditional job and skill related segmentation, and force Facebook and other platforms to advance their use of seed-list style advertising.

2. New Web Scraping and CAN-SPAM Regulation

While I can’t guarantee that the government is going to get their act together and move on something like this, having your email address and other contact information online has now become a massive nuisance.

The two elements to this equation are first the ability to crawl websites to acquire users information (which are predominantly done by automated crawls based on search parameters) and the outreach to these individuals via large scale outreach campaigns that are disguised as personal messages.

While this tactic can be very effective when it comes to distributing content and building links, many webmasters are starting to get frustrated with the bombardment as the strategy of automated scraping and outreach becomes more routine.

I personally receive at least 10+ cold outreaches a day even though I continue to opt-out of lists, and while I’m guilty of some of these tactics myself, you can tell a tipping-point is near.

3. Automation and AI

While the same can be said for most industries, automation and more intelligent human-informed (but machine implemented) decision making will continue to eat into the digital marketing job sector in 2018.

While a lot of the jobs that will get swallowed are more fringe digital marketing, strategies such as chat bots and bid-management will continue to advance and replace some of the less technical human-based skill-sets that currently exist.

Content and more specifically copy creation/writing are other elements that could be replaced by machines as technologies become more advanced at producing comprehendible language.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz

Executive Editor at Search Engine Roundtable & News Editor at Search Engine Land 

@RustyBrick

 

 1.Voice Search

All the data shows that voice search is growing fast now. Between talking to your phone, your Alexa, Google Home, Apple’s Home Pod and even talking to your car over CarPlay or Android Auto – voice search is the future.

Expect voice search to be a huge area in the near future and with that, you need to figure out how to optimize for “position zero” and handle transactional voice search commands.  Is it all very new now, so stay on top of it.

2. Mobile Search

Google launched their mobile-first index, which means Google will crawl the web from a mobile phone perspective.  Make sure your mobile site is equivalent to your desktop site and that nothing important is missing.

3. Speed

While speed seems to be less and less of a ranking factor today, Google keeps pushing AMP on webmasters.  AMP and PWAs might be the future or might not be, it is hard to tell.  But everyone wants faster sites, so expect more of an emphasis on this.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Alexis Sanders

Alexis Sanders

Technical SEO Manager at Merkle Inc., Writer for Moz

@AlexisKSanders

 

1. Mobile Remains Priority

Mobile conversion issues have been at the top of Google’s priorities, heightened by mobile overcoming desktop circa 2014. Google’s highly anticipated mobile-first index is scheduled to launch within 2018.

Accelerated Mobile Pages’ (AMP) have been improving dramatically and I suspect we’ll see more e-commerce case studies emerge in 2018.

Finally, Apple’s Safari will start to feel more pressure to support service workers for Progressive Web Apps (PWA). If Safari beings to support PWAs’ core functionality, it’ll drastically improve their marketability.

2. Web Performance Optimization Becomes Sexy

Websites have been growing in size creating a website obesity crisis (HTTPachive.org shows ~280% growth 2011 v 2017). Sites are going to have determine the right solution mix from their website as multiple remedies emerge (including: HTTP/2, AMP, PWA, CRP, RAILS).

3. We’re Going to Continue Hear About Machine Learning (ML) Victories

Google’s research blog has been publishing a ton about breakthroughs in ML, along with technologies that make ML more accessible to the average human being (think: Kaggle.comTensorFlow, and Facets visualizations). ML offers the potential to better understand multimedia content better.

We’ll likely see more poignant, targeted KG responses and SERPs in these areas. Also, as the training wheel supports for Google’s algorithm, structured data is an important aspect of developing data classification. In 2017, we saw their structured data documentation morph about every quarter.

Google will likely continue to expand structured data documentation. Bing will face more pressure to support JSON-LD, as websites being leveraging the format.

4. Google’s Going to Face More Media Pressure

Google will be at the center of public debates surrounding fake news, data security (against hacking attacks), privacy concerns, and proprietary information. Following this trend, Google will likely ramp up the importance of HTTPS. About 60% of the top 100 sites are on HTTPS already.

5. Conversational Devices and Voice Search

Voice search technology is becoming closer to conversational (within a word accuracy rate that people are willing to deal with). Once the capabilities reach acceptable levels, we’ll likely see a resurgence of chat bots.

I also anticipate seeing a shift in the marketing mindset surrounding fortified content strategies, striking the balance between making content obtainable for voice search and yet not allowing Google to completely “steal your thunder.”

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Daniel Kempe

Daniel Kempe

Co-Founder & CEO at Quuu.co 

@DanielKempe

 

1. Content Diversification

At Quuu, we are excited to see how content marketing is diversifying, extending beyond articles or blog posts to include video, podcasting, infographics and more.

Companies will really need to adapt to this trend to stay in the game. We’ll see larger companies hiring video producers and graphic designers to collaborate with their marketing teams.

But where it gets really exciting is if you work for a startup; let’s say you’re a one or two-person marketing department, then you’re going to have to learn those skills yourselves.

2. Up-Coming Digital Marketing Tools

Luckily, there are tonnes of cool tools out there to help you create different types of content – without having to enroll in film school! Lumen5 was a big hit with content marketers last year (use it to repurpose your blog posts into short videos for social).

In 2018 I’m looking forward to exploring Anchor. Not only does it allow you to quickly and easily record podcasts from your phone, but it’s also a growing social platform in its own right.

What I’m most excited about are our own new tools, the Quuu Scheduler and Content Recycling tools. We are pushing these out shortly and even more exciting for our users, the price will stay the same.

We just want to make our users even more successful on social media by providing a suite of tools to facilitate, alongside our hand-curated content suggestions.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Stephen Panico

 Stephen Panico

Chief Growth Officer at BuzzStream

 

 

1. Google Gets Even More Intelligent

Digital marketing, particularly related to link building, is in an interesting place right now. Despite the penalties that sites have encountered by Google in the past, it seems like there is a lot of information going around right now that suggests that technical SEO and on-page optimization coupled with frankly shady tactics like link-buying are beneficial.

The reality is there is probably a grain of truth to that. Right now anyway.

Unfortunately, while there is some evidence that Google is being a little lax right now when it comes to enforcement of penalties, that can (read: eventually will) change at a moments notice.

The really messed up thing is that the opportunistic SEOs that take advantage of this fact won’t be the ones who are hurt, it will be their clients that get slammed with penalties.

So ultimately, teams that target their promotional efforts toward high authority publications with relevant content are going to outperform their peers, now and particularly as Google continues to get more intelligent (and everyone who has ever bet against that happening has lost big time). 

2. Rise in Uncovering the True Value of a Link

As far as tools, there are some interesting new thoughts on authority metrics that are getting tossed around right now. Effectively, we’re seeing more tools attempt to diagnose the true value of a link, which is certainly one of the most challenging aspects of link building, particularly when dealing with clients.

For example, Ahrefs Backlink Checker attempts to do this by providing a well-rounded dashboard giving full visibility into various aspects of link value, whereas some new metrics such as Verve’s Linkscore offer a proprietary algorithm based on blended on and off site metrics to deduce value. 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Devin Kostrzewski

Devin Kostrzewski

Founder & CEO at Authority Builders 

@Dmak_11

 

1. Back to Basics

I still always come back to the phrase “back to basics.” Despite the ever-changing world of digital marketing, the same basic formula still applies. Create a well-organized website, keep it up to date, and create the best content you can. The results will follow.

There are always new methods, tricks, software and ideologies that build off those principles but without the basic principles, nothing works. Even in my world of off-page SEO and link building, if the domain I am earning links for has improper coding, tags or descriptions then all my effort is for nothing!

If you hire some fancy social media agency who is able to push interaction and traffic to your site but your e-commerce store is not set up properly you likely aren’t going to covert much, adding to your wasted costs/efforts.

2. Digital Marketing Tools Continue to Evolve

As far as tools I need software for tracking SEO metrics and evaluating the quality of links for my clients, I always rely on Moz, Majestic and SEMRush. Ahrefs gets an honorable mention. They are always evolving and provide the best insights for my line of work.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Bryan Traficante

Bryan Traficante

Founder & CEO at TrafMarketing

@BTraficante

 

1. Social Media Improving the Impact of Smaller Brands

For social media posting and advertising, I see the biggest opportunities for smaller brands to make an impact if they focus on the user’s mindset and intent of the channel. Social media (especially Facebook and Instagram) is a form of escapism and educational discovery, keep that in mind when developing ads and engaging with your community.

2. Emotional Connections for Increased Customer Engagement

Organic posts (things you share on your wall/feed) should 100% be value first. An example of this would be post videos explaining topics you’re an expert in to educate your followers and documenting the ins and outs of your business and things you’re doing.

Organic posting (and comment responding!) is an opportunity to add human and relate-able elements to your company that people can develop an emotional connection to. Many of whom you’ll come to see as regular consumers of your content and even advocates for your company.

This organic connection then also provides your company leverage for selling in the future because that connection you’ve built produces trust and rapport.

3. Social Media: Advertising

For advertising, there are numerous strategies to deploy especially in the Facebook/Instagram/Audience Network space – which is where I see a lot of awareness and consideration marketing funnel growth for companies. I see good strategy trends moving more toward behavioral targeting.

Here’s a simplistic example: Say you’re a brewery and you have a blog post about stouts. You can target all people who have visited that blog post in the last X amount of days and deliver an ad to them on Facebook/Instagram/Audience Network. These people are obviously more aware of your company and have some form of interest in stouts.

Knowing that, you can custom tailor an ad targeting those people, ensure high relevance by recognizing that interest and then more easily suggest a business action. “Love Stouts? Same here! They’re creamy and delicious! We just tapped our new Coffee Nitro Milk Stout! Swing by our brewery and grab a pint!”

 

Circa Linebreak

 

If you have any insights on the future of digital marketing, feel free to share them in the comment section below. Also, if you’d like to join this list, email tyler@circaedu.com with your submission. 

Become the Conversion Hero in Your Institution’s Marketing and Recruitment Story

The Secrets of Storytelling Webinar: June 19th, 11AM PST

Enrollment numbers are dropping and there is a need for new, innovative strategies.

Top-rated, highly esteemed institutions of higher learning – offering the latest cutting-edge programs and sharpest instructors — have never seen enrollment numbers this bad.

Why is enrollment dropping? How come the tried-and-true tactics don’t work anymore?

In today’s hyper-competitive market, it’s more important than ever for institutions such as yours to connect with prospective students on an emotional level, by shaping a compelling story and brand that works wonders.

How to do that?

Try some top shelf storytelling, courtesy of Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios. What do cartoon characters have to do with recruiting students to your esteemed academic programs you ask?

Trust us, your students know. They’ve spent their childhoods entranced by Pixar’s magic spell. They’ve grown up with the “Incredibles” and “Toy Story” and “Coco” and – note the irony – “Monsters University.”

It’s time to leverage the basics of Pixar’s storytelling secrets — as directly applied to how to fill empty seats with great students you’ll undoubtedly make even greater.

Here’s how:

On Tuesday, June 19th at 11AM PST, join Circa Interactive’s Joseph Lapin and Clayton Dean, and Jessica Gammon and Virginia Bagley from Bluestocking Education, for their expert webinar on “The Secrets of Storytelling” on how to effectively recruit more students to your programs – through imagination, flair and a sense of wonder.

Register Now: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_SH7bU1EvQ1yjzuPbKsT0eg

What You’ll Learn:
  • How to exceed your enrollment goals and provide a better experience for prospective students
  • How to more effectively shape and leverage story to differentiate your program or department
  • How to diagnose a breakdown in story between marketing, recruitment and admissions
  • How to analyze real-life examples of proven storytelling strategies …and missed opportunities
  • How to utilize tools and processes to more effectively align key messages communicated by your marketing and recruitment teams
What you’ll master:
  • Understand why it’s vital for marketing and recruitment to align on story
  • Acquire how to diagnose a breakdown in story in the enrollment funnel
  • Analyze real-life examples of proven strategies and how to avoid missed opportunities
  • Acquire a tool kit of plans and processes to more effectively align your teams

Circa Interactive is the premier digital marketing agency in higher education. Since opening in 2011, Circa Interactive has helped more than 60 degree programs increase lead flow, build brand awareness,and generate more students. To find out how our services could help your institution, please email clayton@circaedu.com. 

5 Social Media Stats on Demographic Targeting in 2018

Both social outreach and higher education are now more than ever about ensuring a best-fit match between students and a college or university. What works for one family or one type of student might not work as well for another. That is the overarching theme behind today’s social outreach. In other words, your branding strategy should be about creating an experience that will make prospective students and their families say “this is where I need to go to college”.

To get to that point, you’re going to have to determine what the most effective social media platforms are and which of your channels is going to deliver the highest return on investment.

Create Compelling and Visual Content

The average Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat user is squarely between the ages of 18 and 24. That’s the demographic that you’ll want to be targeting for both under and post-graduate. Instagram is obviously extremely visual, and it allows you to put a lot of influencers on the platform and have those influencers promote your branded content. Nearly a fifth (18%) of prospective college students said they checked their favorite college’s Instagram page multiple times in a single day.

Snapchat is another useful social media platform to target on because it allows you to engage that 18-24 target demographic with day-in-the-life narratives on what it’s like to attend university. Studies also show that up to 65% of visual content is remembered by prospective students after three days. That’s a lot of time for your message to percolate.

Retargeting is Going to Be Vital

The average American uses three of the eight major social media platforms simultaneously. Unlike applying for jobs or internships where LinkedIn and Google+ might be enough, effective outreach to prospective college and university students needs to incorporate a multi-channel branding strategy.

Retargeting is an extremely powerful way to ensure multi-channel branding.

Called remarketing by some, retargeting is a cookie-based digital marketing strategy that lets you market more often to prospective college students who have already shown an interest in your institution.

That obviously makes for higher marketing ROI and it simultaneously lets you broaden your impact across major social media platforms.

Certain Ethnicities Use Certain Sites

Nearly half (49%) of hispanics in the United States used Facebook-owned WhatsApp compared to about 15% for whites and 20% for African-Americans.

The high percentage of hispanics using WhatsApp hints at a broader trend in social media marketing.Prospective college students are resoundingly using social media and digital communication like email, messengers, and text to find out about potential colleges and universities. Seventy six percent of prospective college students said they used email often to find out more about a prospective college or university.

Target Where the Young People Are

88% of 18 to 29-year-old young adults are on social media, and when it comes to higher education marketing Facebook is still the go-to place. Facebook’s advertising options and custom audiences features work well with higher education marketing.

Creating compelling content that is consistently shared and liked while allowing prospective students an insider’s look at what’s happening on campus is a great strategy to put into motion. 

Pinterest: Microtarget on the Right Platforms

Fifth and final surprising stat: In a recent survey over 40% of women said that they used Pinterest regularly. There’s a pretty large gender disparity here since only 16% of men used the platform. The Federal Education Department has been documenting the fact that women have steadily been outpacing men in terms of college aspirations for quite some time. There are now literally millions more women opening acceptance letters and choosing to go to college than there are men doing the same. Projections from the Federal Education Department say that the number of women choosing college will continue to be much higher than men for the foreseeable future.

About 55% of prospective undergraduate students are women, and another very interesting finding when it comes to higher education marketing and Pinterest is that 70% of Pinterest users are female. As it turns out, men and women use Pinterest differently as well. Women use the social media platform as a wish list and men use it more as a shopping cart. Put another way, your social outreach to prospective college students on Pinterest should come from a place of allowing prospective students to warm up to the idea of going to your college or university.

Studies show that women use Pinterest as a way of motivating themselves and finding a source of lasting inspiration.

Letting prospective students know how their future goals align with your college or university through your outreach on Pinterest is therefore a very good idea and is a great way to better your demographic targeting. 

Farzin joined the Circa team in January of 2018 as Director of Paid Media. Prior to his current role, Farzin managed multiple digital marketing teams for a number of nationally recognized Digital Marketing Agencies. In 2005, Farzin cofounded The Patient’s Guide a web publishing company serving healthcare providers. His company was acquired by IAC Publishing, the company behind ask.com – Investopedia.com – About.com – Dictionary.com and The Daily Beast. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology and his master’s degree in Evolutionary Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton. 

15 Higher Education Digital Marketing Strategies for 2018

Every day, universities and colleges are coming up with exciting, innovative courses for the millions of motivated students all over the world. The higher education space is being redefined by innovation in design, delivery and employability for many degree programs. Education experts have the resources they need to craft, test and rollout cutting edge online degree programs. That’s why higher education institutions are bringing on board creative communication and marketing professionals to keep their institutions and programs visible and desirable. Here at Circa, we utilize unique higher education marketing strategies that help raise awareness of courses and programs while bringing in high quality students that enable online degree programs to flourish. 

Innovative PPC Strategies

Andrew Glasser and Farzin Espahani

The possibilities for higher ed marketing are seemingly endless when it comes to PPC. It is by and large the most immediate method for generating high-quality leads while broadcasting your brand to qualified individuals, ultimately turning clicks into prospective students. In Search, PPC is a hotbed for student acquisition, with degree-seekers constantly turning to Google and Bing to help them decide their career/academic path. Within Social, PPC offers increasingly advanced tools which we can use to hone in on subgroups of your target audience, fostering lead growth in the student acquisition cycle while simultaneously nurturing your Brand’s reach.

When it comes to paid advertising on social platforms, we notice a clear trend for universities who are marketing online graduate degree programs: All the ads are the same. The ad copy makes it clear that the program is flexible and completely online, and the visuals often convey a happy working professional looking satisfied in their new role. In 2018, it is our focus, mission, and purpose to ensure that colleges and universities make a commitment to standing out from the crowd by showcasing their true story. Students understand that they have basic needs in their degree program, but in 2018, millennials need to have a connection to something bigger. It is important for universities to look at their missions, ideals, and unique value propositions outside of online, flexible, innovative curriculum to begin conveying the information that matters to a student’s personal journey.

Mobile Optimized Search Ads

Studies continue to show that mobile devices are the go-to option for searching the internet. In fact, mobile devices are used more often for searches than desktop computers.  The average person checks their phone 150 times a day, the average time spend on a smartphone is 177 minutes per day, and amazingly, the average mobile session is 70 seconds. This means consumers are using their phones all day, every day, but in short bursts of time. By bidding higher for mobile devices in Google Adwords and Bing ads while utilizing mobile optimized ad extensions we can increase the CTR significantly.

Managed Placements And Interests

Managed placements is a good strategy when there are specific websites that you think are related to specific program or university where can be visited by a potential student. For example for an online MBA program, we want to place our display ads on education related websites and focus on pages relevant to higher education and career advancement. This will help us to make sure our ads are shown to those more likely to click on the ad to learn more.  

Facebook Retargeting Campaigns

The beauty and effectiveness of retargeting allows you to reach out to users who have already showed interest to your brand or program and to get them to re-engage with your brand. This is a slow but steady and cost effective strategy that converts more students compared to traditional targeting, since users are more likely to engage with ads from brands that they know. The best way to achieve a winner retargeting strategy is to start with a brand awareness ad to simply introduce your brand. Then running a retargeting campaign that shows new ads to those who have already engaged with your previous ad.

Fundamental SEO Strategies

Tyler Cooper

Every month, hundreds of thousands of prospective students are logging onto their computers, opening up Google, and trying to figure out where they should earn their degree. If your website’s SEO strategy is not up to par, chances are you’re missing out on the vast majority of these leads. While you can use Google AdWords to show up for these results, you’re going to be paying a premium for each click. When you rank organically, there is no cost per click. When looking at this from an ROI perspective, the value of SEO is undeniable. Having a large search presence means more organic traffic, more leads, more applicants, and more students. If SEO is not a part of your digital marketing strategy in 2018, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.

Link building

Link building is undoubtedly the most important aspect of your SEO strategy. In order to compete in competitive markets such as higher education, your website will need a steady stream of high-quality and relevant backlinks. There are a number of link building strategies. You can read more about those here.

On-Page SEO

In order to get the most out of your link building campaigns, it’s extremely important that your on-page SEO is in place. Make sure you all of the content on your website is properly optimized for search. This includes keyword rich title tags, relevant meta descriptions, keyword density, optimized header tags, internal linking, and much more.

Technical SEO

While this may require assistance from a web developer, it’s important that your site is technically sound so that it can be properly crawled by Google. The easier it is for Google to crawl and understand your site, the more your website’s pages will be shown in Google’s search results. On the other hand, if your website is full of technical errors, your search rankings will almost certainly suffer. Some things to look for when performing a technical SEO audit are: 404 errors, missing/broken XML sitemaps, slow page load times, duplicate content, irrelevant/thin content, and more! Use a tool like Screaming Frog to identify some of these common issues.

Website Content Strategies

Frederic Lee

Creation of website content (articles, infographics, data visualization, and more) is an essential aspect of any search marketing strategy. The primary reason being that Google favors websites with fresh content. With this in mind, a strategy of continuous creation and publication of content is important for website visibility in Google’s search results. In addition to creating fresh content, here are three core strategies to get the most ROI in this content.

Traffic and Rankings Focused Content

Through careful keyword research with an emphasis on target long-tail variations of your core keywords, content can be created with the best opportunity to rank in the search results. Keyword clusters/pods can be established in order to streamline content creation and may cover many keyword opportunity areas surrounding a long-tail variation. Upon completion and distribution, this content may rank for competitive keywords and either bring in large quantities of industry traffic, or a lesser, more valuable flow of conversion-focused traffic.

Conversion Support Focused Content

Depending on your business goals, conversion support content have a goal of providing detailed information about your product/service and industry. This content is designed to speak directly to individuals in the sales funnel. Through paid and organic social distribution and careful placement on your website, these articles are designed to be a strong touchpoint in the sales process.

Social Signal Focused Content

A portion of the Google algorithm involves having positive social signals pointing towards your website and content. Articles and graphics can be created with this exact goal in mind. A detailed analysis of your target audience and how they interact on social network is a key first step. This content must give them a reason to share and engage. Upon publication, strategic social sharing and promotion can help kick start this content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other relevant networks to your industry.

Creative Digital PR Strategies

George Bradley and Joseph Lapin

In the higher education industry, digital public relations is an important approach for any SEO strategy. Here at Circa, we believe that the faculty are one of a university’s greatest assets, yet in general, many higher ed marketing companies are not utilizing these key stakeholders. By leveraging traditional public relations strategies for the digital world, digital PR not only influences brand awareness and thought leadership for universities, but it also allows us to create high level media opportunities for our professors in publications such as the Washington Post, The Hill and HuffPost. Not only are the professors being placed here, but we are obtaining backlinks to our program pages. This directly influences organic traffic that leads to conversions and new students. In collaboration with on-page SEO elements, content marketing, and other link building strategies, digital PR helps bring prospective students to a university and serves as a significant contributor to a diverse link profile for an authoritative website.

Relationship Building

Professors and reporters/editors are the two key relationships that should be built as part of a higher education digital marketing strategy. By building trusting relationships with faculty, you are able to gain an understanding of their research and passions and also create opportunities that are specifically focused on their expertise. Relationships with reporters can also prove to be greatly beneficial. When you have a reporter who trusts you, they are far more likely to respond to your pitch and come to you for a quote from one of your faculty members.

Creative Pitch Writing

Pitching compelling story lines and sources are the crux of any PR strategy. In the higher education digital marketing space, we leverage the faculty expertise to write pitches that relate to current trending topics in the news. There are often four key components to a pitch, and these are the lead, call to action, unique value proposition, and conclusion. You can find more information on how to write these pitches here.

Stay on Top of the News

Having access to and critically understanding the latest news is imperative because you want to stay ahead of the curve. There are various ways to understand what is happening throughout the world, and you should consider each method to be as important as the next. Understanding stories in the newspaper and tying in our professors is the perfect way to begin the pitching process. All of this comes back to understanding your professors and the people working on relevant stories within the media.

Organic Social Media Marketing

Audrey Wills

In 2018, social media is an imperative part to any digital marketing strategy –– especially for higher education. To put the importance of social media marketing into context, take a look at the graph below. When the Pew Research Center began tracking social media usage in 2005, less than 8% of 18-49 year olds in America used at least one social platform. Today, over 75% of 18-49 year olds are active on at least one social media site, meaning social media is the optimal medium for reaching higher education’s target audience.

While the growth in social media usage is a good thing in the world of higher education digital marketing, this increased usage leads to users being inundated with ads and content marketing. So much so that at the beginning of 2018, Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize content from user’s inner circles. Thus, making it even more difficult to get content in front of your target audience –– organically at least. So what tactics can you use to ensure you continue to reach your audience and boost enrollment? Let’s take a look.

Know Your Platform

As mentioned before, Facebook changed their algorithm in the beginning of 2018 to prioritize content from a user’s family and friends. This means that whenever you post content, whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you need to post content that best suits that platform.

Facebook’s algorithm favors content that people want to engage with. Think: would I share this with my friends? Content that is made for Twitter should be concise, yet informational. Let your followers know what you’re sharing and why. Do some research and identify the most active hashtags for your industry and use them throughout your tweets to help increase your reach. When creating content for Instagram, think visuals first, and make sure you have an eye-catching graphic that will grab your follower’s attention and get them to stop scrolling.

Keep up-to-date on social media marketing by attending a conference: http://circaedu.com/hemj/13-higher-education-marketing-conferences-in-2018/  

Live Video

One tactic that all social media algorithm’s love is Live Video. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter enable you to leverage live video to interact with prospective students. My favorite tactic for utilizing live video is hosting live Q&A info sessions to address general program FAQs and provide prospective students the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers in real-time. Hosting a series of Q&A info sessions that address different areas of your program. To give students a better feel for your program, have different team members host each session. Anyone from an alumni, a current student, a faculty member, or even dean are perfect candidates to provide their own perspective and create a connection with the prospective students.

Chatbots At Your Service

Social media has changed the way we all communicate, and chatbots are taking our new forms of communication one step further. Chatbots provide a modern way for students to get questions answered instantaneously. Implementing chatbots into your recruitment strategy can help your admissions team speed up the enrollment process by weeding out unqualified candidates, answering questions in seconds, not hours, and even following up with potential students to ensure they finish their applications before the enrollment deadline.

Circa Interactive is the premier digital marketing agency in higher education. Since opening in 2011, Circa Interactive has helped more than 60 degree programs increase lead flow, build brand awareness,and generate more students. To find out how our services could help your institution, please email clayton@circaedu.com. 

 

Generation Z: 5 Tips for Engaging The Next Generation of Consumers

Just when brands feel that they’ve finally mastered the art of advertising to Millennials, up comes the next generation of consumers: Generation Z.

Although sharing some similarities to the elder Millennials, Generation Z is far more savvy to brand intentions, meaning digital marketers will find themselves embarrassed if they try to implement Millennial advertising strategies for this younger generation.

So what is it that makes Generation Z different? And how can digital marketers successfully engage with this next wave of consumers?

Introducing Generation Z

The first thing to understand about Generation Z is that they’ve grown up with the internet. With the oldest of this generation being born in the mid-to-late 1990s, Generation Z have spent their lives heavily relying on smartphones and social media to not only connect with their peers, but also brands, businesses and organizations.

Understanding this generation’s heavy reliance on social media is crucial for marketing, as a few wrong moves on social media can prove detrimental to brands and businesses.

How detrimental? Consider that Kylie Jenner, one of the most popular and powerful Gen Z celebrities, cut $1.3 billion from Snapchat’s stock all from a simple tweet.


What this shows is that with this upcoming generation, brands don’t even necessarily need to make mistakes on social media; all it takes is negative publicity to sway the public opinion of Generation Z.

How Much Should You Care About Generation Z?

Being the next group of consumers, brands, businesses and marketers are clearly interested in advertising to this young generation, yet Generation Z should be more of a priority than it already is.

Why?

For one, individuals that classify as Generation Z already make up a quarter of America’s population. This number is growing, with projections stating that Generation Z will make up 40% of all consumers by 2020. Any target audience that makes up almost half of all consumers is definitely worth taking into further consideration.

Secondly, advertisers have yet to establish a solid understanding of this progressive generation. Lazily, some assume that they are a lot like millennials, except even more addicted to screens and phones.

While this might be true in some cases, the reality is far more professional and sophisticated: Gen Z aren’t screen-prisoners, they are screen-operators. Society at large functions within the digital realm, and Gen Z leverage their skills and networks to become full-time managers of their personal and professional brands.

This generation deeply understands digital branding – they leverage it for their personal benefit all the time – and are exceptional at seeing through poor or even tacky advertising, so businesses looking to connect with Generation Z will need to put forth equal effort in understanding who they are and what they are interested in.

Tips for Engaging Generation Z

If you’re looking to engage with the next wave of consumers, here are 5 tips for engaging Generation Z:

1.Use Easily Consumable Content

If you really want to connect with Generation Z, creating easily consumable content is essential.

Studies have shown that Gen Z have an 8 second attention span – compared to the 12 second attention span of Millennials – meaning that brands need to make sure that their message can be consumed fast.

Videos and GIFs have proven to be very effective in making a quick point. Clever messaging is successful as well. KFC’s recent public apology for running out of chicken is a great example:KFCSource: http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/23/news/kfc-apology-ad-shortage

In a situation that could have resulted in major brand damage, KFC were able to save face and generate acclaim from Generation Z and worldwide media outlets thanks to its quick, eye-catching message

2.Provide Value

Advertisers shouldn’t assume that they can trick Generation Z. Being brand ambassadress themselves, this group is smart and tech savvy. They can quickly identify when they’re being advertised to, so don’t try to fool them or waste their time.

If you’re looking to engage with this generation, make sure that your advertisement provides some kind of value, such as offering free items or discounts for taking surveys.

Brands that are able to create a mutually beneficial situation will prove most successful with Generation Z.

3. Pass The Eye Test

As mentioned, Generation Z have short attention spans, so before even considering your message Gen Z will judge your advertisement based on its appearance. If your advertisement doesn’t pass the eye test, expect this generation to swipe right past.

What can you do to help make your messages pass the eye test? Much of it depends on the message you’re trying to send.

That said, don’t be afraid to take chances and create edgy content (see KFC advertisement above) or advertisements that feature a bit of bright color here or there.

If you’re worried and unsure, it maybe a good idea to get some direct feedback from Generation Z. Asking for feedback right from your target audience can help sharpen your content creation skills.

4. How Can You Help Them?

For far too long, advertisers have viewed consumers from the selfish perspective of “How can we get our audience to purchase and need our products or services?”

While taking this approach may have worked in the past, Generation Z is too sharp. Any brand that attempts this approach can expect to be embarrassed and humiliated across multiple social networks.

You don’t want that kind of shame.

Great news: there are alternative perspectives.

If you’re really looking to build trust with Generation Z, you’re entire message should be developed with the approach of “How can we help them?”

Again, Generation Z are savvy. Don’t go through the motions with this. They’ll see right through it.

Instead, take a moment to seriously consider your product, service and message to better understand how your company and its resources can help make your consumers’ lives better.

Thinking with this perspective might be difficult for traditional marketers, but it’ll have a significant impact in the long-term.

5. Expand Your Efforts

On average, Generation Z tend to operate 5 screens at a time. For marketers, this means that your brand and message have to be at multiple places at once.

Brands with big budgets will be able to dominate more traditional advertising mediums, yet that shouldn’t discourage small brands from expanding their efforts to the best of their ability.

Generation Z are all about grassroots resources. Many brands have found success with a very limited budget simply by expanding and enhancing their social efforts.

In fact, sometime  traditional advertising can do more harm than good due to the appearance of trying too hard.

At the end of the day, the more that this generation comes positively interpret your brand and message, the more trustworthy that you’ll seem. And there is no better way to appear trustworthy than to authentically approach Generation Z on their terms from the beginning. So don’t wait until Generation Z grow a bit older. Start making adjustments to your marketing strategies today so your brand and message can better engage with Generation Z and hopefully establish a long-term mutually beneficial relationship.

Interested in learning more insights that could help with effectively engaging the next wave of college students? Check out these articles to get started:

 

Tyler is a retired division two college basketball player and a recent graduate from the University of Iowa. His creativity, as well as passion for entrepreneurship and the expansion of technology and communication, helps Circa to continue to stay on the cusp of new technologies and trends influencing future generations of students.

 

 

Learnings (and Mistakes) that Have Shaped My Communications Career in Higher Education

With almost 20 years on the marketing and communications side of higher education, I’ve learned a great deal from key stakeholders and my brilliant teams. But I’ve learned from myself and my mistakes, too. It’s amazing what can grow from a few blunders, helping you lead a more productive, informed and fulfilling career.

Following are six of the biggest lessons I learned from my own failures:

Communicate with everyone.

During my early years in higher-ed communications, I would communicate with one audience at a time. My approach was not as inclusive; and, I sometimes left out key audiences that needed to be informed.

Lesson learned! As higher-ed marketing experts, identify every possible communication channel to disseminate updates through a mix of university websites, videos, email, newsletters and live discussions, as well as through external media, social media, community partners and education outlets. Different audiences receive information from a variety of sources, so accessibility is important – accommodating the way they are informed. Transparency helps reach key audiences; so they are not only informed, but so they feel part of the conversation.

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

During my first job out of college, I tried to do it all. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I was capable and effective.  So I took on more work than I should, and, eventually, I started missing details – and I was not being very effective (and didn’t feel very capable). While I had good intentions, I was missing deadlines, making mistakes and feeling overwhelmed.

Delegation is important to a successful outcome. Your team is just that… a team, and delegation empowers all team mates to have a role and to feel involved in project success. When the right mix is involved, work gets done more efficiently and successfully. Delegation is a great way to coach and mentor, as well.

Give back – and Get Back.

In my early career, prior to getting involved in higher education, I was stuck, frustrated and not learning very much in my job. I was craving professional development and new challenges, and I made a mistake by waiting too long to satisfy this craving.

Then, I got involved with the American Cancer Society as a volunteer. With the sole intention of giving back to the community, I actually “got back” so much more from this experience.  Volunteering gave me the professional development I needed, while enhancing my communication and leadership skills.  Most importantly, I met a board member from Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), and that introduction led me to higher education and long-term communications role at my current organization. So, expand your community, and more will come.

Course Correct.

We’re familiar with the expression, “Life is what happens while we are busy planning it.”  Well, the same holds true with our careers. I wrote a plan for a previous president, and then I got so focused on sticking to the communications plan — and then I missed a few opportunities.

While it’s important to have a plan, I also learned that it’s helpful to step back, evaluate, adjust and course correct when new opportunities develop – and challenges occur. I now accept that plans often need to be adjusted, and that’s a good thing.

Listen to All Stakeholders.

It’s easy to isolate yourself and your team in your work. I’ve done that many times, and learned the hard way about isolated thinking. Big mistake!

Learn from stakeholders from all sides — from students to donors to staff members to the community, as they all have something to teach you. They wear different hats and can collaborate and add perspective to university outreach and strategies.

Model and Mentor.

In my early years, I wanted to show my bosses and leaders that I could figure it out by myself.  While sometimes I could, I also found that I made some mistakes along the way and that I could have benefited from some extra guidance.

Eventually, I started working with a mentor who taught me new leadership skills. In return, I mentor students and professionals, to help them grow in their careers and foster new partnerships. After all, higher education is about teaching others, and it’s important to mentor and model throughout your career.

We can learn from so many teachers and leaders in higher education, including ourselves.  So embrace the blunders, and celebrate the lessons. There’s plenty to learn from our slip-ups!

About the Author

As the Chief of Staff and Vice President of Strategy for Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), Catherine B. Lucas, APR, redefined MSU Denver’s brand in the higher education marketplace; spearheaded the legislative approval process to offer master’s degrees; and led the name-change transition from “college” to “university.”  She has earned a reputation for brand and reputation management, collaborative decision making and community engagement. 

SEO Top Trends of 2018

With 2017 coming to a close, we look to the Holiday Season and New Year for resolutions, ambitious goals and change, but what changes more than the world of SEO? Now is the time to look to 2018 for trends and techniques that may take us in new directions or simply reinforce best practices. That said, let’s take a peek into what the New Year and Google hold for SEO.

Voice Search and Digital Assistants

Welcome Siri, Alexa and Cortana. The market for AI-driven personal assistants and bots will almost double in 2018, reaching more than $12 billion by 2020. The rise of voice search calls for a whole new keyword research routine: the difference being that voice search keywords take the form of natural, conversational sentences instead of the odd-sounding query lingo that often comes with a learning curve.

Visual Search

Visual search is another growing area of SEO that combines technological innovation and UX. As the internet becoming more visually focused, so does the development of powerful correlating search engines. This new trend is driving companies like Google, Bing, and Pinterest to invest in new ways to better understand the way we visually consume content which means your 2018 SEO strategy should act likewise and optimize your visual content.

Why is Video Content Important?

I find video content to be the most exciting trend because not only is it where our future is heading, but it also provides a whole other approach to creating content. In fact, 82 percent of all consumer IP traffic will be video by the year 2021. Video is no longer limited to social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and commonly shows up in page one search results. In addition to making your content stand out from your competitors, why not take advantage of having multiple players in the search world fight over you.  

Mobile and User Experience

Google has set to make 2018 a focus on user experience. Now more than ever, it will be important for a site to deliver a seamless experience for its visitors and shouldn’t simply be confined to one’s experience on the home page. Instead, it should adapt the UX process to consider multiple website entry points. Doing so helps make a site better suited to organic search success. As we know, a good UX generally increases the chances of an individual interacting with the site and visiting various different pages. This, in turn, helps search engines discover which pages are favored and most useful.

If you weren’t on the mobile-friendly train a year ago, it’s time you start playing catch up. With over 6.1 billion smartphone users globally by 2020, it would be an understatement to say mobile-friendly sites are important. This will play a huge role in UX as phones and tablets are largely starting to replace computers and are projected to drive even more traffic to sites than they already do.

Be on the lookout for the new mobile-first index. This will play a new and vital role in ranking websites. While Google has not announced the date it rolls out, we know it is lurking on the horizon. Mobile user experience will play a key role in the way sites are ranked, so not having a mobile-friendly version could greatly hinder your SEO efforts.

How Fast is Your Site?

Three Seconds…That is the time frame in which Google is expecting pages to load. A high loading speed is fantastic all around, and not just for mobile-friendly sites. For example, if your site is fast, users are less likely to “bounce” and more eager to stick around and lurk deeper instead. In fact, a study by the Aberdeen Group found that “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”

Rise of SERP Features

SERP features are increasingly stealing searchers attention and, with that, clicks from organic listings. We all know that the struggle to gain a #1 organic ranking is real, so much so that it’s often smart to consider additional initiatives. This in mind, there’s no better time than 2018 to analyze opportunities that SERP features pose. If you’re looking to take advantage and boost traffic, consider utilizing these popular SERP features:

  • Knowledge Panels
  • Featured Snippets
  • Related Questions
  • Local Packs

Making necessary adjustments with these features may even increase your click-through rate by 30 percent. As search results continue to get more diverse, it’s important to take advantage of SERP features as an opportunity to stand out. In fact, you’d better get at it right now, before a competitor does.

Guest Blogging and Link Building

Inbound links have been and will continue to be the most powerful ranking factors as we move into 2018. However, greater caution should be taken in the way they are obtained. Earlier in the year, Google warned publishers who solely rely on guest posting as a method of building links. This is Google’s attempt to decrease the amount of spammy and questionable links and it would be wise to anticipate they will keep a watchful eye on guest contributions that provide little to no value moving forward.

No need to panic. This doesn’t mean guest blogging is coming to an end. As is best practice, you’ll just have to keep it within the limits of what’s allowed taking caution to not hurt your brand’s reputation. There is no need to obtain links if they don’t align or prove to be relevant within your target niche. Google appreciates the varied strategy of link building as opposed to picking a single method of gaining links and milking it.

2018 seems to hold a lot in store for the world of digital marketing. With change consistently on the SEO horizon, it’s important to consider these best practices and what we can do to not only evolve but stay at the forefront of the industry. While traditional SEO techniques aren’t going away anytime soon, it will be important to diversify your strategy for an optimized search.

 

Keilah headshot Keilah is a graduate of the University of Idaho. Working as a Jr. Digital Marketing Specialist with Circa Interactive, she has gained experience in SEO and higher education content marketing while cultivating her creative skills. Keilah strives to become a future influencer in the digital marketing world.

13 Higher Education Marketing Conferences in 2018

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.

We can count on seeing immense changes from year to year. In 2017, 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.

Highlights of the trends with the most influence that pushed digital marketing forward in 2017 were:

  • An ever-increasing focus on the consumer experience. Marketers are finally grasping that the consumer shapes the journey we create for them.
  • Analytics have more precision and power than we’ve ever seen before. The amount of data and the types of information you can gather from it is unmatched compared to previous years.
  • Data-driven executives are more sought out than ever. As companies aim to connect the vast amount of channels and consumer touch points, they must have leadership that understands and supports the sophisticated technology to make these goals attainable.
  • Better video content and more of it. Expect to see this increasing in the near future, with augmented reality taking the frontline of content.
  • Marketing companies turn into digital marketing companies. It isn’t enough anymore to maintain relevance outside of the digital world as a business. CMOs and CTOs are shifting their teams to think digital-first.

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 2018 include the boom of online video in social platforms, artificial intelligence and deep learning becoming more relevant in our everyday lives as it gets further ingrained into the technology we access to. There is also the continued growth of smartphone users in emerging markets, and the evolving power of Facebook advertising.

Digital marketing is more critical now than ever before in higher education and will only increase over time. Marketing higher education is multidimensional, as it expresses an institution’s brand while also educates potential students on topics they may already have a predisposition about, or are not fully informed on, such as online courses.

Experimentation is where a lot of marketers for higher education have been over the past few years, but with all of the tools and technology available to digital marketers come 2018, it is time to hone in available data and make strategic decisions to push universities forward towards growth.

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 2018.


The 2018 Carnegie Conference

This student recruitment focused conference comes to Orlando in early 2018 and is designed for marketing professionals and staff at all levels of an educational 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.

When: Jan 17-18, 2018

Where: Orlando, Florida

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


Traffic and Conversion Summit 2018

The Traffic and Conversion Summit is highly beneficial for all digital marketers. In 2018, there will be a large focus on conversion breakthroughs in a variety of different channels. If you are running any kind of paid campaign in higher education,  you need to make your way to San Diego for this information-packed conference.

When: Feb 24-28, 2018

Where: San Diego, California

Website: https://trafficandconversionsummit.com/


2018 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 2018. 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 Hyatt Centric in New Orleans, this conference is designed for enrollment professionals, alumni engagement professionals, administration, and more.

When: March 14-16, 2018

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

Website: http://www.case.org/Conferences_and_Training/SMC18.html


Digiday AI Marketing Conference 2018

If you love innovation, then the Digiday AI Marketing Conference is right up your alley. Here, marketers will learn how artificial intelligence can assist in the digital marketing world. Learn about how AI can assist in things like content creation, customer service (can be applied to the enrollment process), and internal data organization. The use of artificial intelligence in marketing is not far away, so it’s best to stay ahead of the curve.

When: April 11-13, 2018

Where: Santa Barbara, California

Website: https://digiday.com/event/digiday-ai-marketing-summit-2018/


The Adobe Summit 2018

Become an expert in being an experience-led business. Known as one of the largest digital marketing conferences today, the Adobe Summit offers more than 250 sessions and labs across specialized tracks to choose from with hands-on learning using Adobe’s marketing platform. Make connections with other digital marketers in your same space and industry all while learning cutting-edge digital marketing and trends for the future.

When: March 25-29, 2018

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Website: https://summit.adobe.com/


Digital Growth Unleashed 2018

This conference should be of interest to all those who are in higher education marketing based on its tagline alone – “Optimizing The Complete Customer Journey.” As marketers we all know that getting students to our sites is only half of the battle. At Digital Growth Unleashed you will learn how to create the most compelling user experiences and how to get the most out of each user. Not only will you learn the best tactics, but you will also be introduced to emerging technology that will help you along the way.

When: May 16-17, 2018

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Website: https://digitalgrowthunleashed.com/


SMX London

Digital marketers continue to hone their skills in search marketing and search engine optimization and the SMX London conference in 2018 is a powerful 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 22-23, 2018

Where: London, England

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


SMX Advanced

This fast-paced digital marketing conference put on by Search Engine Land is designed for experienced marketers. If you are looking to skip the basic questions and dive head-first into some fast-paced sessions, this is the conference for you. Here you will learn a wide range of cutting-edge SEO and SEM tactics that will help advance your expertise.

When: June 11-13, 2018

Where: Seattle, Washington

Website: https://marketinglandevents.com/smx/advanced/


Vidcon

If you haven’t noticed, videos are becoming more and more popular in the digital marketing world. In higher education, it’s quite common to run into them on landing pages and as ads on social media. Learn the ins and outs of creating videos for the internet at this unique conference. Attending Vidcon will likely put you two steps ahead of your competition.

When: June 20-30, 2018

Where: Anaheim, California

Website: http://vidcon.com/


2018 eduWeb Digital Summit  

In Summer 2018  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 Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego.

When: July  23-29, 2018

Where: San Diego, California

Website: http://www.eduwebdigitalsummit.com/


Content Marketing World 2018

If you’ve spent any amount of time in digital marketing, then you likely know how important content marketing is. The Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland is jam-packed with speakers who are experts in content marketing. Here you will learn everything you need to know to build a content marketing strategy that will grow your school’s program or client’s program and inspire your audience.

When: September 4-7, 2018

Where: Cleveland, Ohio

Website: http://www.eduwebdigitalsummit.com/


HighEdWeb

In Sacramento this fall, higher education professionals can attend the HighEdWeb Annual Conference with keynotes from Tatjana Dzambazova and Felicia Day. The four-day conference is chalk full of creative workshops and well-planned track sessions including Here There be Dragons: Navigating the Faculty/Staff Divide and Shattering Silos: Sharing Science on Social. Don’t miss out!

When: October 21-24, 2018

Where: Sacramento, California

Website: https://2018.highedweb.org/


2018 Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education

Late 2018 promises to deliver the annual Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education 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.

When: November 4-7 2018

Where: Orlando, Florida

Website: https://www.ama.org/events-training/Conferences/Pages/2018-Symposium-for-the-Marketing-of-Higher-Education.aspx?tab=home&CalendarDate=12%2f5%2f2017


Converge 2019

Converge 2019 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.

When: Feb 19-21, 2019
Where: Atlanta, Georgia

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

 


Want to know which conferences Circa Interactive is attending this year? Ask us in the comments below or Contact Us Here.

Special thanks to Frederic Lee for his contribution to this post. Follow him on Twitter @FredHigherEd

5 Tips for Effective Client Communication

In the marketing industry, understanding how to deliver desired results for your clients is crucial to a successful business relationship, but a study shows that 46 percent of employees regularly leave meetings not understanding the next steps. Below are a few helpful communication tips that will ensure that both parties always leave a conversation knowing how to proceed, making discussions with clients more productive and effective.

Ask the right questions

In any communication setting, the person asking the questions is the one that steers the direction of the conversation and ultimately has control. The trick here is making sure that you are asking the questions that give you a better understanding of what your clients are feeling and what they want. Questions that prompt yes or no answers will not further a conversation, but rather put the client in a corner where they cannot fully explain what they are feeling. Deploy ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions that require a more elaborate response than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example, “how can we improve the illustration?” will get you much further than “do you like the illustration?”, because it requires a more detailed explanation of why the client satisfied or unsatisfied. Knowing how to frame your questions will also help resolve any problems or conflicts between you and your client. You can gain a better understanding of how your client feels about the work and how you can improve and grow in the future. Here are some other great ways to stage questions that will help you get to the root of a problem: https://wavelength.asana.com/develop-effective-communication/

Set the tone from the start

Make sure your style of communication is professional, yet personable. You want to show your client that accomplishing their goals is paramount, while simultaneously establishing an air of trust among both parties. Additionally, don’t be afraid to use informal conversation as a way to build the relationship. Make it known that the relationship is conducive to constructive criticism and feedback and that both parties are free to openly share their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Setting this tone will make collaboration easy and will keep the clients happy.

Be empathetic

 Show your client that you understand their concerns and recognize that they are human. If a client is upset about something, or seems like they are having a bad day and are taking it out on your work, refer to tip number one and start asking questions tailored to their concerns. Make it known that you are here to listen to their concerns and that you want to help them solve problems. You can also use “it seems” phrases to show the client what you’re understanding from their communication. By doing this, you are relaying your understanding of their problem, while also allowing the client to hear the tone that they are emitting. For example, if a client gets upset and says, “I cannot quite work out this illustration” and provides no other feedback, you can say “it seems like you want changes to be made to the illustration. How can we change the design to better suit your goals?”.

Do your homework

Preliminary research is not only useful for current clients, but also potential clients that you may be trying to court. Go into a weekly client meeting with new, potentially useful resources and a knowledge base of what your client has wanted in the past. Following the same idea, step into a potential client presentation with solid knowledge of their business and a strong idea of what their past work looks like. Be as prepared as possible. This shows the client that you truly care about their goals and are ready to help accomplish these. As a higher education marketing company, our public relations team leverages professors within our client’s degree programs in order to land media opportunities. We interview the professors before doing outreach on their behalf in order to get a better understanding of their passions and expertise, but before the interviews, we research the professor and tailor our interview questions to their individual work and interests. This establishes a rapport with them from the start, and they appreciate that we do not waste their time by going into the interview blind. Doing your homework upfront is a time-saver for everyone involved and shows the client that they are important to you.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone

In the digital age, much of the communication that occurs in a business setting happens via email or through some other digital medium. While this is convenient and generally effective, studies show that face-to-face communication is much more productive in terms of accomplishing one’s goals. While face-to-face communication with clients is not always possible in a digital company like ours, a phone call is the next best thing. Having a spoken conversation can solve problems and demonstrate a sense of urgency on your part to resolve an issue. Additionally, It is much faster and a more direct way to get to the root of a problem or miscommunication, leaving less room for things to get misinterpreted in the midst of a client crisis. Good old-fashioned speaking often gets the job done better than an instant message ever could.

 

Shannon black and white 2 Shannon has been contributing to the growth of the Circa team for nearly two years and recently graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in Communication Studies. Shannon’s creativity and passion for public relations and content marketing has contributed to Circa Interactive’s digital marketing value. 

Why Designers in Higher Ed Need to Simplify Their Ads

A few months ago, I watched an episode of Abstract–a series of documentaries about the art of design. The episode focused on Christoph Niemann, an illustrator best known for designing covers of the New Yorker magazine. What I learned most from the episode was his use of abstraction. Niemann could look at the world around him and use Legos to create what he saw. These weren’t extravagant Lego cities; they were just taxis and buildings made of less than a handful of pieces. The idea was to boil down one object to its most simple parts, keeping only what makes that object recognizable.

What I took away from this: Abstracting your work helps you conceptualize better in the beginning of your project. Once you have the general look and feel of your graphic, it’s easier to see whether adding more detail would help or hurt your design. It’s important for all artists and designers to keep things simple because less often says more, especially in higher education. Here are some lessons for designers in higher ed to help create simpler, yet more effective ads and images.

Don’t Be Afraid of White Space

Whether we stay home and watch T.V., browse social media while waiting for a coffee, or simply just drive to work, we encounter dozens of advertisements everyday. The ad could be a billboard, a sponsored post, or an image on the side of a browser window. If you want to design an ad that will get someone to visit your website or convert to lead, it’s important to catch their attention first. The average social media user has a small attention span. In my opinion, this has less to do with an impatient attitude and more to do with how often we have to dismiss the countless, irrelevant ads we are swarmed with.

Designers in higher ed want the viewer to read what is on the ad, but cluttered text will most likely deter them from reading even a couple of words. White space is essential to getting someone’s attention. As a designer, you have to be aware of your structure. Imagine a border of unusable space so you keep text and graphics from looking messy. The largest message should have the largest amount of space around it. This will help the viewer focus on the importance seeing that it stands alone, appearing more powerful than the logo and any other text.

Be Concise With Your Message

Your focus should be on what you offer; who you are comes next. Ads come in many different sizes–some long, some tall, and others square. This requires compromising of art and text. The essential pieces to your puzzle should be your school’s name, the program or major, and the art associated with that round of ads. Your message should be another piece, but if your art goes well enough with the message then you won’t need the message there every time. Try to keep your graphics as simple as possible and try taking out a unique piece of it that helps all the ads work cohesively. This helps when a prospective student goes from Instagram to desktop or from Facebook to Gmail.

The ads will change size, but the viewer needs to remember it’s the same school targeting them. Whether they notice the ad consciously or subconsciously, it’s best to brand your specific ad so it becomes more familiar. If the art you’re using can’t be simplified any smaller to fit the smallest ads, try using the same colors or textures. It’s okay if all the ads look different, they just need to look like a family.

Stand Out

It’s essential that your school stands out from the other schools also marketing to the same prospective student. Throughout most of my senior year of high school, I was getting emails and letters from colleges around the United States and online; many I had never heard of.

There were a few things I was looking out for when deciding on a college to attend:

  • Excellent art and design programs
  • Help into a design career
  • City with a lot of available design jobs

The problem with most ads I received was the fact that they didn’t target my interest but were more general. Instead of a woman in her mid-20s sitting in the grass on her laptop, why not target my interest in art by showing actual art? An ad targeted towards my interests could show an artist working or it could be as simple as an interesting digital art piece made by an alumni.

How I Have Created Ads

American University wanted new marketing ads for their education programs. They already had a specific type of imagery and a strong message that went along with it. The illustration has mostly brand colors so it only made sense to keep up with that theme.

America University_learning disabilities_sm

The full design was pretty elaborate, but the most important elements were the raised hands to go with “raise your hand if you believe..” I tried to keep the message on sizes such as 320×50 px, but it just wasn’t looking right. The message was losing its impact the smaller it got. I had to compromise the message by replacing it with of a couple of the “raised hands.” This kept the theme consistent and hinted at the message.

The other problem with the graphic was that it was busy. I couldn’t use red, white, or blue for the text if it went over the imagery because it would get lost. I didn’t want to compromise the brand colors so red and blue shapes were used to block the imagery. This also worked to declutter the space around the text so that it could be read with more emphasis.

AmerUni_SPED_remarketing_320x50AmerUni_SPED_remarketing_320x100

AmerUni_SPED_remarketing_336x280AmerUni_SPED_remarketing_200x200AmerUni_SPED_remarketing_728x90AmerUni_SPED_remarketing_160x600

Conclusion

With every type of design, problem solving is crucial. If the imagery didn’t use brand colors, it would be okay to use colors based off of the imagery alone. As a designer, especially in higher ed, sometimes you don’t get a choice of what fonts, message, or imagery is going to be used. Clients may ask for something specific, but they also trust your design instinct. Go with your gut and make them see that what they want may not be what looks or works best.

 

meGabrielle Brambila is a graphic designer for Circa Interactive. She is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with experience working as a designer for an on-campus entrepreneurship organization. Her passion for illustration and photography inspire her to create something new and unique every day.