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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

What the education space is making possible that it hasn’t prior to new normal: APAC universities’ panel discussion

Australia – Last 13 April, MARKETECH APAC’s webinar production unit ‘Inside Innovation’, through the webinar ‘Asia-Pacific Outlook 2021: Reimagining your higher education web strategy‘, has gathered digital marketing leaders and experts from higher education in APAC to talk about how the massive shift to virtual learning changed universities’ approach in engaging students and the challenges and new opportunities it has brought to higher education institutions in delivering an excellent and effective digital experience. 

Graced by panelists Paul Gower, deputy director for marketing & user experience at Australia’s Curtin University, and Monica Hong, the digital marketing national manager of Australian Catholic University, who were moderated by global SaaS solutions Siteimprove’s Vice President for APJ Gabriel Ponzanelli, and likewise joined by its Digital Marketing Consultant Rick Elenbaas – the group found that what stands out to be the most valuable opportunity right now in the education space is increased accessibility

The international and domestic market

While the pivot to online for almost all aspects of campus life such as admissions, enrolment, and the educational instruction itself, has imposed restrictions due to the lack of physical interaction, the greater focus on digital has also opened up a lot of opportunities for both institutions and students, which may not have been possible if weren’t for the nationwide lockdowns. 

One would be the reach to international students. Although both Gower and Hong agree that due to cross-border restrictions, the blow of the pandemic has been greater to their international market, it has also proved to be beneficial for reaching the said cohort in other areas such as implementing open days. 

“Moving forward into a hybrid deliverable is really good because we found that delivering a virtual open day meant that we can reach the international [audience] which we knew preferred to actually find information online, rather than physically go to open day, which was more for school leavers,” Hong shared in the panel.

Now that international reach has become more tightened at large, this then pushes universities to reimagine their curriculum and offerings and to put more attention to their domestic market. 

Siteimprove’s Ponzanelli having worked with different institutions shared that a common problem for schools at the start of the pandemic was the disruption of university attendance, where international students had to stop at the middle of the academic year and couldn’t come back to continue due to borders closed. 

With this, Ponzanelli shared the two strategies common among universities, “What we hear from a lot of them, they’re sort of looking at two strategies. One is to pivot away from say the [regions of] Central South America or Africa, or kind of away from the [regions of] China, Southeast Asia, and India; and the other one is [to] double down on the domestic,” he said. 

Gower shared that in Curtin university, they have been a lot more aggressive in protecting their domestic market share in the last 12 to 18 months – looking at offering more short courses for post-graduate students and to those that wish to take micro credentials – as a big growth opportunity. 

“[This] forms a large part of our marketing strategy for the next three to five years – developing much more [options] for short courses or nano or micro credentials which people can then use for broader accreditation [to more expansive programs],” shared Gower. 

“A lot of universities are looking at this, people just want to dip their toes in the water, learn, [and] get a bit of the flavor of a particular topic, particular skill, take that back and then see if they sort of go any further or build on that,” he added. 

The opportunity to attend school for physically challenged individuals

Aside from the dimension of opportunities with regards to domestic and international students, the new normal with the increased remote setup has given way to simply push forward accessibility as it is – for those students that are not able to attend physically such as those with physical disability, for example. 

Ponzanelli said, “The move to online and these hybrid models have really opened the door for people that probably couldn’t attend the university physically before. Somebody that is in regional areas of the country, [or] someone that [has] a physical disability, that just physically could not get to a campus. So I’m assuming and I’m hoping that accessibility is much bigger, and [is] more on the table than it used to be before.” 

The panel touched on the two-prong discussion on accessibility – first, the accessibility opened by virtual learning to get into higher ed for physically-challenged individuals, and then the other accessibility thereafter – how accessible a university’s online experience is, such as their websites in delivering a virtual campus experience. 

Siteimprove’s Elanbaas shared more on the topic in his deck presentation on how to make universities’ websites and digital campuses more accessible and effective, catering to the needs of internet-immersed digital natives. He discussed how websites should address more than just the visually impaired but also those who have cognitive impairments, deafness or difficulty of hearing, and also challenged motor functions. He also speaks of the long-tail effect of inaccessibility which could start from poor student experiences then resulting in negative word of mouth and then eventually losing out on the share on student enrolment. 

Of the topic, Hong shared, “Moving in a more digital native world, everyone goes on Google first to google everything that they do, and so it is important to make sure that we are visible on the website, [that] our website works, [and] our user journey is seamless as much as possible. So that is the most important thing.”

The webinar was done in partnership with global SaaS solutions Siteimprove. On-demand access to the webinar is now available. Watch as the panel discusses more in-depth the different challenges universities met at the onset of the pandemic, and how they have successfully adapted. Insights discussed were hybrid learning, adopting conversational platforms, marketing to influencers such as students’ parents, dealing with siloed subdomains, and diversifying global market strategies as the world continues to navigate the global pandemic. 

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Main Feature Marketing Events Partners APAC

The rise of the digital campus: How digital natives are changing the education space way before the pandemic

Australia – A lot of things changed when the pandemic marked its arrival, to say the least. One right off the bat, and probably the most important, is that everything has been transitioned to online, if it hasn’t already; switching workplaces to now take the form of our personal four corners, to making almost every human activity – from consumer purchases to travel – a feature of digitization. All had their own share of adjustments, and this is also very much true with the academic community. 

In the recently concluded webinar by MARKETECH APAC’s Inside Innovation, ‘Asia-Pacific Outlook 2021: Reimagining your higher education web strategy’, speaker and digital marketing consultant for global SaaS solutions Siteimprove, Rick Elenbaas, shared the pivotal development in the education space, one that many may have been cognizant of for a while, but a topic that’s also equally begging of further attention – the increasing count of digital natives in the university. 

In his presentation, Elenbaas shared that between the years of 2014 to 2018 – now considered to be a pre-pandemic period – the generation that birthed digital natives are growing up and are slowly taking space in educational institutions, outnumbering other students. Referencing a PwC study, Elenbaas said that there are three types of students today: the traditional, those that went through academic instruction before the emergence of the internet; the transitional, students that have experienced the internet at a young age but are still navigating school in a hybrid way, and lastly the digital natives, those that have had internet access right from their toddler years, and whose lifestyle has been deeply integrated with the internet. 

Asia-Pacific Outlook 2021 Reimagining your higher education web strategy_3

“The rise and decline of the traditional student that is happening is what we call the ‘decade of change’, and currently we are now in a situation where we really are at that final cross-line where those traditional students are leaving the universities, and we’re only dealing with digital natives,” said Elenbaas. 

The pandemic may have served as the ultimate push to finally pay close attention to the digital space in higher education, but digital natives have long been showing dominance even way before this massive disruption and it is now time to ramp up universities’ digital campus. 

So what do this new group of individuals expect for the university online experience to be? First of all, Elenbaas said the student experience must be exactly what it promises – an end-to-end online experience – “they are expecting [that] everything happens online,” said Elenbaas. 

“From the day they leave high school, the day they start searching for a study [program], and eventually [to] when they leave the university, [they expect] that they still have access to online resources, so everything in their student life, they expect to be online,” he added.

Furthermore, digital natives, having been innately accustomed to online – which lends closer lens to just about every entity and content – expect that the student journey is personalized. This means that every data point, from mobile, web, and social app access down to the basic emails sent to them, they expect to be tailored to their needs. 

And lastly, Elenbaas said, this type of students would ask for online experience to be one thing – consistent. That means having a single customer view with consistent data across the entire student journey. This pertains to the type of data and quality presented. With the massive space in digital, a lot of touchpoints will be begging for their view and mind space and students would want an online experience that would help bring focus rather than add to the clutter. 

Elenbaas said that in order for universities to meet these needs, they need to do three things: achieve a single and uninterrupted digital student journey, make their digital student journey accessible, and transform their strategies to become digital resilient and future-proof. 

Elenbaas has shared in a more comprehensive view this topic on the webinar, which is now available on-demand. You may register here to get your access. In his presentation, he discussed in even greater detail the roadmap that universities can follow and apply to refresh and accelerate their digital campus in order to truly cater to the needs of digital natives in the new normal. 

The webinar also presented an expert panel, comprising Paul Gower, deputy director for marketing & user experience at Curtin University, and Monica Hong, the digital marketing national manager of Australian Catholic University, and that which is moderated by Gabriel Ponzanelli, the vice president of Siteimprove for the Asia Pacific region and Japan, to discuss in depth the current challenges and opportunities of universities in their digital marketing strategies amid the surge in online activity.

Obtain access to the on-demand webinar here.

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Marketing Featured Partners APAC

MARKETECH APAC tackles higher ed’s digital marketing strategies in ‘new normal’ in webinar for APAC universities

Singapore – MARKETECH APAC, the news content platform dedicated to the advertising and marketing industry in the APAC region, has recently concluded its webinar Tuesday, April 13, which tackled the changing education landscape amid the pandemic and how this has pushed the imperative for higher education institutions to recalibrate their current marketing roadmap, specifically schools’ digital marketing strategies. 

Moderated by Gabriel Ponzanelli, the vice president of global SaaS solutions Siteimprove for the Asia Pacific region and Japan, the webinar, Asia-Pacific Outlook 2021: Reimagining your higher education web strategy, presented a panel of esteemed marketing leaders from Australian universities to discuss the current challenges and opportunities for universities in delivering a student experience now that the academic community has been thrust to completely navigate in a virtual environment. 

A presentation has also been showcased by Siteimprove’s digital marketing consultant Rick Elenbaas, who discussed in detail the definitive changes in the student journey and how they have affected students’ expectations. 

As the name of the virtual event promises, Elenbaas laid out the three core steps in delivering a converting and retaining web experience, namely: achieving an uninterrupted digital student journey, making your digital journey accessible, and becoming digital resilient and future proof. More details on this presentation to be found in the webinar’s on-demand access. 

In addition, Elenbaas also covered a lot of ground on how digital natives are outnumbering other students and what vital characteristics a university’s student experience should embody in order to truly connect and resonate with this group of individuals. Furthermore, he also emphasized a strand of students’ navigation online that some universities fail to pay more attention to and that is, the accessibility of their campus websites, that goes beyond just addressing visual impairment. 

Meanwhile, the panel discussion included panelists Paul Gower, deputy director for marketing & user experience at Curtin University, and Monica Hong, the digital marketing national manager of Australian Catholic University. The panel delved into the different points of the student journey and how each has been turned around by the absence of physical interactions. Gower and Hong, through the lens of their own universities, provided a picture of how the larger education space is changing – from delivering a seamless application process to conducting ‘open days’ and ‘student orientations’ at this new normal and to adapting the digital strategy for both the domestic and international markets.

The panelists also bared how each of their teams dealt with the challenge of moving into the unknown when the pandemic first struck, and how in such a massive environment and space as digital, they manage to prioritize which communication points are most important in user experience such as the accessibility of campus websites. 

The webinar was conducted under MARKETECH APAC’s webinar series Inside Innovation, and is in collaboration with Siteimprove. Siteimprove is a global SaaS solutions that provides organizations with actionable insights to deliver an effective digital experience that drives growth. 

You may register here to obtain access to the on-demand webinar.