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How to use marketing automation in higher education

Tired of generic brochures and mass emails? Attract top students with engaging journeys using marketing automation. Learn how to nurture leads, streamline workflows, and boost enrollment.
Students in higher education reading and talking about an automated marketing email.

The competition for bright minds is fierce in higher education. Universities and colleges are constantly vying for the attention of talented students. But in today’s digital age, generic brochures and mass emails just don’t cut it anymore.

What if you could create a personalized journey for each prospective student? Imagine seamlessly guiding them from initial interest to enrolled learner, while nurturing a lifelong connection with your institution. This is the power of marketing automation.

By leveraging automation, universities can personalize their communication, nurture potential students effectively, and ultimately convert them into enthusiastic learners and future alumni.

Studies show organizations using marketing automation see a 14.5% productivity increase. Why? Because automation streamlines workflows, freeing up valuable time for staff to focus on what matters most – creating a thriving learning environment for their students.

In this blog, we’ll explore how marketing automation can benefit higher education and provide ways to implement it. We’ll cover how to build stronger relationships with students, improve efficiency, and ultimately achieve your enrollment and student engagement goals.

The advantages of marketing automation in higher education

Attracting and retaining students in today’s competitive landscape requires a smart strategy. Marketing automation empowers higher education institutions to achieve this by fostering stronger student connections, streamlining internal processes, and ultimately boosting enrollment. Let’s explore how.

  1. Improved recruitment and enrollment processes: Marketing automation can streamline the enrollment process by automating time-consuming tasks such as email marketing, lead scoring, and prospect tracking. This not only saves valuable time for admissions personnel but also ensures that no prospective students are ignored, which can result in improved overall enrollment rates.
  2. Enhanced student retention: By closely monitoring students’ online behavior and interaction patterns, marketing automation can help institutions identify valuable insights into potential retention risks and enable them to address these issues proactively.
  3. Increased efficiency: Marketing automation eliminates the need for manual tasks like sending individual emails or scheduling social media posts. This frees up valuable time for staff to focus on more strategic initiatives.
  4. Improved personalization: By leveraging student data, higher education institutions can tailor messaging to specific needs and interests. For example, institutions can send targeted emails highlighting programs relevant to a student’s academic background or showcasing campus life for those interested in extracurricular activities.
  5. Enhanced lead nurturing: Marketing automation facilitates the creation of automated email drip campaigns that nurture leads throughout the enrollment journey. This keeps your institution top-of-mind and guides prospective students seamlessly through the application process.
  6. Measurable results: Marketing automation platforms provide valuable analytics that track campaign performance. Institutions can gain insights into open rates, click-through rates, and overall engagement, allowing for data-driven decision-making and campaign optimization.
  7. Streamlined communication: Marketing automation fosters consistent and timely communication with students. Automated responses to inquiries, application updates, and deadline reminders ensure efficient information flow and a positive student experience.

Now that we understand the benefits of marketing automation in higher education, let’s dive into strategies and programs that can help you put these advantages into practice.

How to use marketing automation in higher education

Marketing automation isn’t just about sending emails; it’s about creating a personalized and engaging experience for students throughout their entire journey with your institution. Here’s how you can leverage its power in higher education:

Nurture leads with personalized cross-channel communication

Marketing automation is a powerful tool that can help higher educational institutions create personalized cross-channel communication with their students. With Dotdigital’s cross-channel automation tools, nurturing leads has never been easier. You can tailor your emails, SMS, push notifications, and other forms of communication-based on your students’ interests, demographics, and engagement levels. 

For example, you can send a welcome email to a prospective computer science student highlighting upcoming coding workshops, or a text message to a current student reminding them about upcoming financial aid deadlines. These personalized messages make your students feel valued and help to build a strong relationship between your institution and your students.

Streamline the admission process with automation

The admissions process can be a lengthy task, both for the admissions staff and the applicants. However, with the help of automation, this process can be streamlined and made much more efficient. 

By automating tasks such as sending updates on application status, delivering acceptance letters, or prompting students to submit required documents, admissions staff can free up their time and focus on more important tasks. 

Additionally, automation ensures timely communication with applicants reducing the risk of errors or delays. This not only improves the overall experience for applicants but also helps to create a smoother and more effective admissions process for the institution.

Identify fundraising opportunities with alumni segmentation

Fundraising is a crucial aspect of any higher educational institution or non-profit organization. However, identifying potential donors and rekindling relationships with alumni can be a challenging task. That’s where alumni segmentation comes in. 

By utilizing segmentation templates within your marketing automation platform, you can categorize alumni based on factors like graduation year, major, or giving history, which allows for targeted outreach and personalized fundraising campaigns.

One tool that can help you with this process is Dotdigital’s intelligent segmentation tools. With intuitive student contact dashboards powered by WinstonAI, you can identify quick wins and see the bigger picture at the same time. 

Dotdigital’s unified view and eRFM tools can help you target the right student audience with the right message every time, giving you an edge when it comes to fundraising. By utilizing these tools, you can create campaigns that resonate with your alumni and inspire them to support your organization’s mission.

Deliver real-time course updates with SMS and push notifications

Institutions can use triggered SMS and push notifications to deliver real-time course updates to their students. This allows them to instantly send important information such as course cancellations, schedule changes, and registration reminders. 

As a result, students are always informed and up-to-date, which helps them keep track of their schedules and assignments. Additionally, this helps students feel more connected to their institution and faculty.

Furthermore, SMS and push notifications are highly personalized and can be customized to meet individual students’ needs and preferences. For instance, some students may prefer to receive notifications via SMS, while others may prefer push notifications. By offering multiple communication channels, institutions can ensure that they reach their students in the most effective way possible.

Leverage lead scoring and reporting for strategic insights

Marketing automation platforms play a crucial role in helping higher educational institutions gain valuable insights into their student pipeline. One of the key features of these platforms is the ability to assign scores to specific actions taken by prospective students. This process, known as lead scoring, helps identify high-potential students, allowing for targeted outreach efforts.

Lead scoring is typically based on a set of predefined criteria that indicate a student’s level of engagement and interest in the institution. For example, a student who downloads a brochure or attends a webinar may be assigned a higher score than someone who simply visits the website. By assigning scores to these actions, institutions can prioritize outreach efforts and focus on the most promising leads.

In addition to lead scoring, marketing automation platforms also provide automated reporting on campaign performance. These reports provide valuable insights into which campaigns are working and which are not, allowing you to refine your strategy for better results. By analyzing this data, institutions can identify trends and patterns in student behavior, allowing them to adjust their marketing efforts accordingly.

Boost event attendance with personalized invitations

Boosting event attendance is often a challenging task, but it can become easier with personalized invitations. Whether you’re organizing a career fair or a sporting event, sending personalized invitations based on the interests and preferences of potential attendees can significantly increase participation.

If you’re looking for an effective tool to help you boost your event attendance, you can try Dotdigital’s Eventbrite integration. This integration allows you to send personalized invitations to potential attendees based on their interests and preferences. It can help you showcase relevant events and highlight how attending can benefit them academically or professionally.

With Dotdigital’s Eventbrite integration, you can also create custom event pages, manage event registration, and track attendee engagement. This way, you can better understand what’s working and what’s not, enabling you to refine your approach and improve your results over time.

Automate onboarding and orientation for a seamless transition

Automating the onboarding and orientation process can greatly benefit both new students and your institution. By implementing automated workflows, you can ensure a seamless transition for new students, providing them with the necessary information and support they need to succeed. 

Automated workflows guide new students through the entire onboarding process, from submitting their applications to registering for classes. With automated emails, you can keep new students informed about campus resources, upcoming events, and deadlines. This not only helps new students feel more comfortable and supported but also helps them stay on track and avoid missing important deadlines.

Personalized check-ins are also an effective way to ensure that new students feel welcome and supported during their first few weeks on campus. These check-ins can be automated as well, allowing you to easily track new students’ progress and identify any areas where they may need additional support.

Enhance your engagement with artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool in marketing automation, revolutionizing the way you can engage with students. AI-powered tools like WinstonAI can analyze vast amounts of student data and behavior to identify key moments for engagement. With predictive analytics, you can anticipate student needs and personalize your communication at the right time, thereby increasing engagement and boosting sales.

WinstonAI is a tool that can assist you with your emails. It provides grammar and spell checks, as well as generates subject lines, to ensure that your emails are professional, impactful, and free of errors. This feature saves you time and enhances your credibility and authority among your audience.

By implementing these strategies, marketing automation can empower your institution to build stronger relationships with students at every stage, ultimately leading to a thriving learning environment and a successful student body.

Elevating higher education through marketing automation

Marketing automation transforms the way higher education institutions communicate with their students. It enables institutions to personalize their communication, address student needs proactively, and focus on providing a superior educational experience. By embracing marketing automation, institutions can ensure the success of their students and position themselves for long-term growth and success.

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