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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

This new SG joint venture aims to prep brands on China market’s reopening

Singapore – As Singapore braces for the reopening of the China market, Singapore fintech Aleta Planet has formed a joint venture (JV) with software development Fooyo to offer digital marketing and e-commerce solutions to meet rising demand from Singapore businesses preparing for the reopening of the China market.

The JV, called AP Studios, will develop digital tools that will help merchants provide a richer, more interactive payment experience as well as engage their customers through the popular WeChat marketing platform in China.

With AP Studios, Aleta Planet, which is already connecting merchants to the UnionPay network in China and in 179 markets globally, will be able to offer a comprehensive and seamless marketing payment solution to these merchants.

AP Studios’ tools, which range from payment checkout webpages and chatbots to WeChat/Alipay mini programs, crowd-control monitoring solutions and interactive tourism apps, can be customized for merchants in retail, medical, education, tourism, government and other industries.

A variety of apps can be created in the WeChat mini program. For example, one app promotes F&B merchants through a food trail itinerary where customers can pre-order food and read reviews; another offers virtual campus tours of a list of universities to foreign students and allows them to pay for school expenses and course fees within the mini program.

Fooyo was founded by Li Shaohuan in 2014 and three former schoolmates from the National University of Singapore namely Fooyo’s Co-Founder and Senior Project Manager, Liu Yangfan and Fooyo’s Co-Founder and CTO, Chen Zeyu.

Ryan Gwee, founder and group chairman at Aleta Planet said, “Everything we do as a fintech company is about innovation and getting the best talent to partner us. Shaohuan and his team have tremendous talent, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and app design, and we are excited to launch AP Studios with Fooyo to expand our suite of digital marketing tools.

He also added that many of their clients have expressed the need for an all-in-one solution that will grow their digital presence in China. They believe that this venture will provide them with a holistic and comprehensive e-commerce solution to achieve targets more efficiently.

“Aleta Planet has always been open to exploring new areas of cooperation. This is part of our growth strategy to expand beyond payments to cover other services related to checkout, digital marketing, customer experience and engagement,” Gwee added.

Shaohuan will head AP Studios as managing director of the solutions team, under the Aleta Planet Group. The team’s combined expertise in AI, big data solutions, robotics and cloud computing has enabled Fooyo to clinch several government-commissioned projects.

“This joint venture between a growing fintech company and a smart SaaS solution company will have an amplification effect for both our businesses. It is going to be a win-win solution. We aim to work with more industries and expand to countries beyond Singapore together,” he stated.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Indonesian online MSMEs tally significant recovery in Q1 2021, index shows

Jakarta, Indonesia – Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) has recently launched its BRI Micro & SME Index (BMSI) Q1 2021 and has found that a greater majority of Indonesia medium and small enterprises (MSMEs) have recorded significant recovery this year, following a current trend of digital marketing in the country.

BRI noted that online MSMEs sectors grew by 34.1%, while only 26.5% of offline MSMEs improved their business compared to the figures in Q4 2020. The survey of BMSI also found that offline MSMEs have been hard-hit in the last three months, amounting to a decrease of more than 3.9% higher than online businesses at 40.7%. 

According to Aestika Oryza Gunarto, corporate secretary at BRI, digital marketing has played a vital role in development of online MSMEs sectors, followed by a significant economic growth despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the digital sales strategy has encouraged MSMEs players to add more value to their products and services than entrepreneurs with direct (offline) marketing strategy.

“In general, the online sales activity of MSME players is higher than those that are offline. As a result, most business sectors such as agriculture, processing and mining industries, have reached optimistic index results or above the threshold figure of 100,” said Gunarto.

Manufacturing and agriculture are two main sectors that experience the highest growth with regard to online MSMEs, amounting to over 100 thresholds in the Q1 2021. Process manufacturing takes place at 101.8 in the index for online MSMEs, while the agricultural sector is at the level of 101.2.

The index figure brought along increasing optimism for MSME players to grow bigger in Q2 2021, with the Business Activity Expectations Index (IEAB) on the BMSI rising from 105.4 to 128.0. MSME players reflect frankly on the improving business performances of the overall macroeconomic condition, amounting to an increase of Business Sentiment Index (BSI) from 90.2 in Q4 2020 to 115.5 in Q1 2021.  

Gunarto added, “MSMEs players applying online marketing strategy are realising more optimistic results, at least in the next three months. Digitalization has provided excellent performances of the overall economic growth and sales increases, mostly driven by online marketing strategy.”

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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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SME Featured ANZ

Metigy, Fiverr team up to support microbusinesses through digital marketing

Sydney, Australia – Australian AI-powered marketing platform Metigy has partnered with freelance services marketplace Fiverr, to service the growing need of microbusinesses for digital solutions.

According to data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), there had been a 14% increase in new business registrations during the pandemic. With this, comes an increased demand for digital, and both Metigy and Fiverr aim to provide digital marketing expertise by co-creating and launching a stream of free educational resources on their owned channels, helping freelance and small business community upskill in areas of digital marketing and business growth.

The new initiative also gives Metigy’s customers the ability to tap into a broad range of digital services such as photoshop editing, social media design, and copywriting, as well as programming, while generating new business opportunities for the skilled freelancers on Fiverr. In addition, Fiverr’s sellers will be exposed to a larger pool of SMEs actively seeking digital solutions.

Metigy’s CEO and co-founder David Fairfull said that they are excited to partner with Fiverr as both of them are on a mission to support small businesses.

“Amid the pandemic, we saw many small businesses close but this led to the rise of microbusiness owners and freelancers, many of whom made that scary leap to kickstart their own business. Now is the time to be investing in our global small business community, ensuring they have the right tools and technology in place to support growth and reach their full potential,” added Fairfull.

Meanwhile, Liron Smadja, the senior director of global brand marketing and international expansion at Fiverr, commented that the partnership with Metigy is a first of its kind for them, helping to boost exposure and business opportunities for their global freelance community predominantly in Australia but also in Singapore and the US.

“The partnership comes at the perfect time as we continue to build our presence in Australia, expand opportunities for our network of Fiverr sellers and continue championing the small business community. We can’t wait to see what this partnership brings and are looking forward to working closely with the Metigy team,” said Smadja.

The partnership is Fiverr’s first major marketing investment in Australia, while the announcement of the tie-up also comes after Metigy’s recent Series B funding round led by investment banking firm Cygnet Capital earlier this year.

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Marketing Featured South Asia

Yellophant Digital nabs ExpertMFD’s digital marketing mandate

Mumbai, India – Digital agency Yellophant Digital has won the digital marketing mandate for ExpertMFD, India’s collaborative initiative to create financial entrepreneurs for the mutual fund industry.

The partnership will see Yellophant Digital managing ExpertMFD’s digital marketing duties, such as creative and content solutions, social media management, and digital campaign strategy, as well as media planning and buying, and ORM, SEO, and SEM.

According to the agency, the Indian Mutual Fund industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country and there is an enormous opportunity for potential entrepreneurs to participate in the industry’s growth story. With this, Yellophant Digital plans to educate and give insights to potential entrepreneurs about the brand through targeted strategy on all digital platforms.

Himanshu Vyapak, the managing director of the Center for Investment Education & Learning (CIEL), said that they have about 2.3 crore unique mutual fund investors in India, and the growth in mutual fund distributors have not kept pace with the growth of assets in the mutual fund industry.

He further shared that they try to build a strong foundation and a cohesive growth environment for future financial experts to create Atmanirbhar India, which translates to ‘self-reliant India’, by providing a full-stack end-to-end platform for anyone who wants to become a mutual fund distributor. Vyapak stated that they are truly thrilled to join hands with one of India’s leading AMCs and they look forward to seeing Yellophant Digital give them a digital presence across all the platforms and help them reach more people and create mutual fund entrepreneurs of the future.

“This is a big opportunity and as 90% of the Indian audience has become social media savvy, we want to create a huge impact on various digital platforms. We understand that Yellophant Digital knows how the industry works and we are thrilled to see how they will make ExpertMFD a brand that reaches everyone. That is the reason we have collaborated with Yellophant Digital and I am confident that working together will help our brand reach new heights,” added Vyapak.

Meanwhile, Preksha Seth, the co-founder of Yellophant Digital, commented, “We look forward to working with ExpertMFD, which focuses on creating new financial entrepreneurs. It is the first time in India that all of the Mutual Fund Industry is coming together to create a revolution in investing. We are fortunate and grateful that we have this responsibility to build the digital-first brand from inception. We are super excited to come up with insight first thoughts for the brand and use social media to amplify the same.”

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Marketing Featured South Asia

ART Fertility Clinics to bolster digital presence in India through Social Beat tie-up

Mumbai, India – ART Fertility Clinics, the global institution of reproductive medicine in India, has set its eyes on amplifying its digital presence, and they have chosen independent digital marketing agency Social Beat, to boost its digital marketing in the country. 

The Middle East-headquartered ART Fertility Clinics deems to be one of the leading institutions in the fertility sector globally and is known for its knowledge and latest advancements in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). Recently, private equity firm Gulf Capital has invested $30M in ART Fertility Clinics to help the brand expand in India. The firm’s investment will enable the fertility chain to open 18 clinics in different parts of the country over the next 12 months.

Aside from their main website, the clinic currently has its digital footprint on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. At present, it uses its social media channels to share reliable information on health and fertility. Through the new partnership, Social Beat will be responsible for handling the India branch’s digital media planning and performance marketing to accelerate patient acquisition.

CEO of ART Fertility Clinics India, Vinesh Gadhia said, “We are pleased to appoint Social Beat as our digital marketing partner. As we embark upon a new journey in India, we believe with their strong experience and capabilities, Social Beat will be able to drive our narrative in a compelling manner and build brand trust in India”

Meanwhile, Vikas Chawla, the co-founder of Social Beat, commented that the agency is thrilled to join ART Fertility in its growth journey, as the fertility segment is growing at a rapid pace, and they are looking to leverage their digital capabilities to educate, as well as acquire patients. 

Rachna Ganatra, the head of strategy and business development of Social Beat, said, “Our vast experience in providing digital marketing services for brands in the healthcare sector, particularly patient acquisition will help us drive success for ART Fertility. We are looking forward to narrating ART fertility’s brand story to the audience through innovative and engaging campaigns.”

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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.

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Marketing Featured ANZ

WE Communications strengthens capabilities in Australia with two new hires

Sydney, Australia Global communications and marketing agency WE Communications (WE) has appointed two key hires for its Digital and Experience Technology (DXT) team in Australia. 

The new appointees for the DXT team are Brian Keenan, the new head of strategy, and Mike Nikotin, the new art director. Both will report directly to Nichole Provatas, group head of the DXT team Australia.

The agency believes that the appointments will strengthen its integrated marketing services for clients, which include data-led creative, paid social, and performance marketing, as well as brand and content strategy, and influencer marketing, among others.

Keenan has previously worked as a senior vice president of planning and head of business intelligence for public relations firm Weber Shandwick. Throughout his career, Keenan has led campaigns for brands like ALDI, American Airlines, and IBM, as well as Mastercard. Keenan will now be responsible for analytics, content, and brand planning, as well as agency IP for WE’s DXT team in Australia, bringing with him his 10 years of experience in creative and client strategy.

Meanwhile, Nikotin has previously worked as an associate creative director for media company Enigma Communications. Nikotin brings with him 20 years of experience in the creative and art direction sectors, working with agencies such as WiTH Collective, The Works, Allianz, and American Express, as well as Toyota, and Virgin Mobile, among others. His appointment will see him moving WE’s Creative Studio to greater heights, made up of animators, designers, editors, and producers.

Commenting on the two new appointments, Provatas said that the addition of Keenan and Nikotin to the DXT team further expands the senior bench as the team continues to invest in the specialist craft and respond to the changing nature of the way people consume content following the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Dan Woods, managing director of WE Australia, also shared “It’s paramount for communicators to understand how the world’s rapid motions impact consumer behaviors and embrace new media for brand storytelling. Brian’s strategic insights combined with Mike’s creative capabilities will further enhance our counsel and available capabilities to clients as we collectively navigate today’s fast-changing reality.”

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Marketing Featured APAC

Increasing student enrollment and retention through next-gen digital strategies

Five steps to gain a competitive edge in the race for student mindshare

As enrollment across higher education institutions continues to slow, many colleges and universities are painfully aware of the budget and funding cuts that can quickly follow. In an effort to stave off these downsizing exercises, the competition for new students has become fierce.

For the admissions and marketing departments tasked with driving enrollment and retention, the stakes have never been higher. And with the student and campus experience increasingly taking place online, schools understand the growing importance of the digital experience they deliver to both prospective and current students.

According to a study by higher ed enrollment and fundraising solutions, Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL), a college’s website ranks as the no.1 informational resource students use in their college search, while the same data showed that 76% of students will fill out a submission form on the school’s website to get more information.

Most marketing and admissions teams know they need to focus on enhancing their digital student experience; yet the biggest question is, “Where do we start?” With the sheer size and complexity of the typical college or university website and digital presence—not to mention the siloed nature of those contributing content—it can be daunting to figure out how to build a focused, high-impact digital strategy to drive enrollment and retention.

This 5-step guide explores how higher ed marketing and admissions teams can apply forward-thinking digital strategies to help siloed departments work in unison—and gain the buy-in they need from leadership—to drive enrollment and retention and support the success of their institutions.

1. Establish a benchmark for your digital marketing efforts

An effective digital strategy starts with taking inventory of your school’s current digital performance. After all, with budgets under pressure, marketing and admissions face increased scrutiny around the cost of digital tools and campaigns. Demonstrating need and proving results requires you to identify which metrics are the most important to drive buy-in from leadership. 

Start by thinking about your digital marketing efforts and how they relate to the high-level ROI factors that leadership will use to assess them. These factors typically include:

•Volume
•Quality
•Value
•Cost

From there, it becomes much easier to evaluate each of these factors across your institution’s digital presence—from webpages to SEO, paid campaigns, form submissions, and more.

Take note of poor performers

During this initial digital audit, make a list of the weakest links in your digital strategy. Is your content meeting student needs? Is your SEO strategy driving new prospective students to your website? 

As you move into step two and begin to draft your digital strategy, these ‘poor performers’ can serve as a quick way to start delivering incremental progress through:

• Quick-win opportunities: Showing you where you can make small changes to drive fast, easy improvements to your digital student journey.
• High-impact opportunities: Identifying the areas to apply limited resources in order to make the biggest impacts on key outcomes like site traffic, conversion applications, virtual tours, and more.

2. Align your digital strategy with your institution’s strategic goals

In addition to the inherent challenges associated with the numerous semi-independent schools, departments, and divisions, each silo in your institution’s ecosystem has slightly different objectives regarding its digital assets.

For example, some departments may have an internal application process to weed out students and keep class sizes down. These departments may need focused web content that delineates the application process, prerequisites, and other important preparation resources. Other departments, however, may suffer from a lack of awareness and need a stronger search and SEO presence to drum up student interest.

Despite these different sub-goals, every department’s objectives should still ladder up to your institution’s overarching strategic vision. Think of the way these two sets of objectives align as a sort of educational hub-and-spoke model. The departments represent the spokes, addressing their specific needs—but each one also connects to the university’s central strategy, keeping the wheel turning and your institution driving forward towards enrollment growth. 

Start small—then scale up

After your initial website audit, you may find that there is a lot of work to be done. However, trying to tackle everything at once—across dozens and dozens of departments and divisions—is a surefire path to failure. Start with one gap, for example, that may be in terms of accessibility, SEO, and content, and then focus on that. As you demonstrate incremental ROI, you can build new initiatives into your digital strategy over time.

3. Create an inclusive digital student environment to match your inclusive campus

As digital solutions continue to replace many traditionally in-person student experiences, higher ed’s commitment to accessibility changes. Schools need to ensure their digital assets are truly accessible for all students and provide powerful opportunities to increase enrollment, engage students and support them on their path to graduation.

Without seamless accessibility to mission-critical webpages, initiatives in SEO and search won’t have the desired effect—making accessibility the perfect place to start your digital evolution.

Identifying accessibility issues

Bounce and abandon rates often serve as the ‘red flag’ that a specific webpage may not be meeting student UX expectations. But they also lead to as many questions as answers. So how do you turn these inaccessibility symptoms into a true diagnosis that includes actionable steps to cure UX issues?

To identify the underlying cause of accessibility and UX issues you may need to invest in tools that provide a deeper look at how users are interacting with a page. Behavioral analytics features like heat and scroll maps can empower marketing and admissions teams as they review user sessions and identify specific causes of user friction.

Armed with these insights, it becomes much easier to make the subtle adjustments that will enable more users to have meaningful interactions with your website—bringing them one step closer to enrolling in your institution, choosing a class, or declaring a major.

4. Improve SEO and optimize ad dollars with an empowered team

Most marketing and admissions teams know that SEO and paid search are valuable, but very few higher ed institutions have a real search strategy. Most schools fall into one of two buckets:

Set it and forget it

Many schools developed an SEO strategy back when they launched their website—when they had to write all the web copy, page titles and tags, and all the other stuff that feeds Google’s algorithms. They may have done a great job, but they’re not regularly evaluating and adjusting their search strategy.

Constant adjustment

Other schools regularly evaluate and adjust their search strategy. Sometimes too regularly. SEO is a long-term strategy—a bit like the stock market. You can’t judge performance based on a few days, or even a few weeks. Making constant, hasty adjustments is hardly better than having no search strategy at all.

The best approach falls between these two extremes. You want to build a search strategy that ladders up to the brand values and differentiators of your institution. Put tools in place that make it easy to monitor search performance. And if you’ve built a solid strategy, you’ll want to take a long-term perspective on judging and adjusting that strategy.

Identifying SEO champions across the institution

Before you start identifying keywords, make sure you have SEO champions across the schools and departments in your institution. These champions help you drive compliance with SEO strategy, ensuring that every web page is going through the same SEO lens.

Take a student-centric perspective to choose keywords

It’s likely that each school and department within your college or university will have its own set of unique keywords and key phrases. To help ensure keyword quality, it’s important to make sure they’re all starting from the same student-centric perspective:

• What questions are students asking?
• What search terms are students using?
• Where are students searching from?

Get everyone using the same tools

Picking a single, intuitive tool to use across all departments and schools will not only reduce administrative and IT burden, but it will also provide organization-wide visibility, and measurable progress toward your SEO goals.

5. Foster an identity that replicates the campus experience

With higher ed enrollment on the decline, it’s no surprise that most of the attention from marketing and admissions teams focuses on attracting and engaging prospective students. But student retention is equally critical to a school’s success.

Invest in your ‘digital campus’

Colleges and universities invest heavily in their physical campuses. But they should also be continually investing in the ‘digital campus’ to keep pace with expectations and drive satisfaction among the student body.

Deliver a mobile-optimized experience

Students today expect to pull out their smartphones to get an answer or complete just about any task. Make sure your students are able to access the digital assets—course materials, campus information, and other resources—they want from their mobile device. Moreover, make sure that your digital experience is just as great on a mobile device as it is on a desktop or laptop.

Give students real-time connections

We live in a world defined by instant gratification. Fair or not, students bring the same expectations to the ‘digital campus’. When they want help or need an answer, they want to connect with someone right now—and frustration mounts with every passing minute. Integrating chat boxes and other real-time communication tools make it easy, fast, and intuitive for students to connect with professors and admin to get the support they need, right when they need it.

Keep marketing conversational

Today’s higher ed students see right through ‘marketing speak’. Yet marketing teams must still reach out to engage students with offers—whether it’s course enrollment information, campus events, and opportunities, or other services. The key is to make sure your marketing communications use friendly, casual language. Messages should feel like they’re coming from a helpful peer—not a lecturing parent, and definitely not a salesperson. Think of your tone and language like the landscaping and other aesthetic features of your physical campus: They have a big impact on the ‘feel’ and experience of your digital campus.

Figuring out where to start (or where to focus) can be the toughest part of improving your college or university’s digital presence. But by following the actionable steps offered in this guide, you can begin building a high-impact, forward-thinking digital strategy that’s geared toward the outcomes that matter most: driving enrollment and protecting student retention. Just as importantly, these achievable strategies will help you realize measurable results and build powerful momentum behind your digital initiatives.

This article is by Siteimprove.


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