As 2021 draws to a close, it’s clear that some of the trends that have permeated the year show no sign of slowing. The Covid-19 pandemic has had far-reaching ramifications for the higher education sector, some of which, such as the accelerated shift to digital, will be here to stay. However, although the pandemic has dominated decisions and discussions, it has not been the only story of significance in 2021. Schools have started to feel the pinch of international borders closing, divisive political upheavals and social decisions, and the audience segment has continued to change, with an ever increasing rise in Hispanic students pursuing higher education (this group’s recent growth now makes them the nation’s largest minority).
So what trends will continue on into 2022, and what else can student marketers expect? We have put together a guide with our predictions to help you plan your marketing and recruitment strategy for the year ahead.
Institutions often look to the data to guide decisions, but marketing and enrollment teams don’t always have real-time access to it, and this means that many institutions can lack market orientation. Equally important as understanding your institution’s own data is having visibility of data sources from across the sector to support your marketing strategy.
Rather than relying on static reports or paying costly license fees for access, the trend will move much further towards free access to live data, with democratized availability of the best resources to power your decision making.
Akero Data Labs is the first step for us on that journey, and 2022 is going to be a hugely exciting year, incorporating more data sources and unique access to the right audiences for your campaigns, allowing you to predict student behaviors to create informed advertising plans and, ultimately, gain that competitive edge.
As our survey with THE at the beginning of this year showed, marketers' targets are increasing while their budgets remain static.
We don’t see this trend stopping anytime soon, so it’s going to be vital to not only demonstrate real ROI from your campaign activities but to also capture the insight that will enable you to have data-informed conversations with your accounts department when budget reviews are happening.
To do this, integration of your technology stack is vital, so that the system tracking enrollments is connected to your advertising spend. This can be set up in Akero to give a live view of performance against objectives and performance of the advertising channels in use.
Costs vs. goals
Enrollments by platform
In 2022, students will want to see institutions being more carbon-conscious than ever before. We know that environmental issues are one of the biggest concerns for students, and form an important part of their college decision-making. We also know that students are wise to greenwashing, so if a school claims it is sustainable whilst still investing in fossil fuels, this will put students off associating themselves with your brand.
With only 46% of higher education institutions on course to reach the People and Planet sustainability target, there are serious improvements to be made during 2022. Some may be hitting the mark already, but can you do more to improve your ranking next year? Making a commitment to sustainability will be an essential part of your brand strategy in the coming years.
So what are the key takeaways? 2022 will be a year fuelled by strategic planning (informed by access to quality data) to help with Open House and deadline campaigns and beyond. Integrating your tech stack to attribute enrollments to advertising spend will be key to boosting recruitment numbers and keeping marketing budgets on track. And embracing authenticity with actions aligning to key messages will really speak your prospective students’ language.
We hope you find this useful as we head into 2022. As always, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts if you want to discuss revamping your strategy for the year ahead.