Make no mistake – the Higher Education vertical has changed dramatically since COVID-19 took the world by storm. Now that we are starting to emerge from the pandemic’s once-in-a-lifetime experience, we can begin to process the degree in which it has altered our daily lives. We can now assess which changes will remain and which will fade away.
The same goes for Higher Education and the effects the pandemic has had on its institutions. It’s safe to assume some of these changes will persist. So we can now ask the question: What is the new normal and how do schools prepare for it?
1: Consumer behavior will drive new strategies
Since the start of the pandemic, students have experienced a new kind of education, one that is completely virtual with more flexibility. They have explored virtual and dynamic group engagements and have done it from remote locations where higher speed connectivity has kept the experience rich and stress-free. There will be an excitement to return to in-person learning and have the full university experience, but there will also be a large percentage of the student body that will continue to look for that new flexibility.
2: Communications strategies must be connected to the audience and the moment
The lesson learned as the pandemic changed our lives was that the winning brands were the ones that adjusted and met the new reality with new solutions. They changed their creative to match what was happening. This will continue to be true moving forward. Consumers react positively to communication that matches what they are experiencing and who they are. Targeting and relevance will be key to unlocking engagement with these valuable audiences.
3: Speed to change and flexibility is now expected
How will schools adjust? Flexibility and agility have always been good to connect with demand and supply. Schools that move fast to communicate new benefits will also have a decided advantage. Understanding first-party data and using predictive analytics is a cliché, but this is when you should be doing it. Some other tips: Use disruption to your advantage, pick opportunistic spots to win, test often, fail fast.
Higher Education’s institutions largely survived the pandemic intact. This came with great effort and resources, plus a willingness to meet each new moment and adjust on the fly. As we’ve noted here, some of the changes will remain. The key for colleges and universities to succeed in a post-pandemic world is the ability to embrace digital marketing for a more personable, targeted, and fluid strategy to not only attract the best students but to keep them.
This article is based on a podcast featuring Ed Camargo and hosted by The EdUp Experience Podcast. Listen to the full podcast here