Many universities have already embraced the utilisation of digital media to support their student recruitment and retention objectives. Through effective digital marketing communications universities are able to transmit messages to potential students via contemporary, cost-effective and pertinent platforms. By developing external mediums such as social media accounts, blogs and email marketing solutions, institutions are able to monitor engagement and response rates from potential students.
The prevalence and prestige of digital media communications within HE institutes was demonstrated during the 2014 Sixth Sense survey, which polled 69 UK university and further education marketing teams in regards to their communications strategy – 72% of respondents said that digital marketing was more important now than it was five years ago.
Through utilisation of online technical platforms, universities are also equipped to maximise student retention through increased communication initiatives and cutting-edge digital offers. The University of South Wales has implemented a mobile application called ‘Unibox USW’, which enables students to explore courses, book open days and view-recorded lectures.
Through utilisation of online technical platforms, universities are also equipped to maximise student retention through increased communication initiatives and cutting-edge digital offers
This shift in the digital climate is not confined to the UK, but is a worldwide trend in industry development. Universities in the USA, Australia and China are implementing integrated software solutions such as student orientation programmes, with the aim of facilitating a positive and personal campus experience. For example, at Boston University in the USA, students take part in team building activities, panel discussions and view informational video clips.
Utilisation of digital media in these capacities was an aspiration from Generation Y and expectation from Generation X. We have an opportunity to connect with students on a deeper level that resonates with their cultural lifestyle and subsequent choices. Digitalisation is the future of the industry, and by realising our potential for enhanced communication, retention and recruitment, we are able to revolutionise the way our sector operates.
Professor David Russell is Founder and Chairman of the Russell Partnership, a consultancy specialising within Catering, Conferencing, Events and Leisure Markets.