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What I Learned About Digital Marketing in Education from the Digital Summit in Philadelphia

With almost 10 years of experience in the education industry, I’ve seen digital marketing approaches come and go, and it’s always interesting to me to see what techniques other marketers are utilizing to reach their audiences. I enjoy learning from their approaches and discovering how I can apply them to our own digital marketing work in the education market.

While digital marketing approaches may differ, one thing I took away from the recent Digital Summit in Philadelphia was that the need for empathy in digital marketing is a constant across all industries including, of course, the education industry.

Consider the following when developing a digital marketing strategy targeting the education industry that includes empathy as a key factor:

Attention must be earned.

We want the people we’re targeting to pay attention to what we’re doing, right? I mean, that’s the whole goal of marketing. We want them to see when we’ve launched a new product or won an award for our program, when we’ve made accomplishments, or how we can help them with our educational product or service. But, we can’t blast this information out and expect people to respond. We need to share information in a way that makes people want to listen, hear more, and talk to us. We want to cultivate what we’re sharing in our digital marketing in a way that earns their attention.

Increase volume rather than raising your voice.

No one responds well to being yelled at. When messages like “Act now!” and “Get this deal while it lasts!” are thrown at us, they often cause us to run away from, rather than toward, the product or service being sold. It’s important as marketers to recognize when we need to lower our voices. Rather than yelling our calls to action, try softening the tone but sharing it more often. Consistency and consideration in digital marketing messages can go a long way toward empathy, both from and to our prospective education industry audience.

Bring your audience into every meeting.

We often get caught up in our marketing campaigns, aiming to reach our company’s goals while losing sight of who we’re actually marketing to. It’s important to keep the audience front and center when discussing, reviewing, implementing, and reporting on our digital marketing campaigns. Doing so will help with perspective and provide you with the ability to empathize with your audience during every step of the marketing process.

Market at the intersection of purpose and passion.

Your organization has a purpose — providing a product, service, or program to your audience. Your audience has a passion — creating change, making an impact or improvement. Important to your digital marketing in the education industry is finding ways to connect your purpose and your audience’s passion, and utilize empathy to show the combined impact of the two.

Be a solution to their problem.

Life is always easier when someone can help us out. Whether you have a product that makes your audience’s life easier or helps their program to make more of an impact, it’s important to show how you can provide the solution. It shows that your organization isn’t just looking for a sale— rather, you’re looking to help. This solution-oriented approach will resonate more with your audience, and will add to your credibility and value.

Remember the power of the small gesture.

We’ve all been there . . . you’re walking up to a door only to have the person in front of you let it slam in your face. It’s annoying, right? That small gesture of holding open a door can make a big difference. By including small gestures in your digital marketing — personalization, customization, going above and beyond in your offerings — your education industry audience will take notice. And when a prospect is considering what product, program, or service to utilize, your small gesture could go a long way.

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