Marketing is the way we get our institution’s brand in front of people (prospective Students), people that will hopefully become customers (enrolled students). But when it comes right down to it, marketing isn't really all that easy. It takes phone calls, sending out advertising materials, promoting your university and the services it provides, engaging prospective students, following up with the ones that are on the fence, and even keeping current customers (already enrolled students) happy. That's all marketing, that's where Marketing Automation comes in.

Automate your marketing with workflows and autoresponders

Marketing automation is a way for you to replicate your human interactions, engagement, and personality. In fact, once you set up marketing automation it runs virtually hands-free. It doesn't skip out early for a kid's soccer game, take holidays at the beach, it leaves that stuff to you. But marketing automation does work hard for your success and it can do that in a million different ways. Let's take a look at a few of them. When prospective students come to your website, often times they express interest (for instance, by downloading online prospectus). In exchange of prospectus, you ask them for contact information such as email or phone number.

Now, you have their contact information but in order for you to move the process forward, you have to send an email, make a call, or engage them in some fashion.

Marketing automation takes care of that for you, even if you require a personal touch like a call to a prospective student and invite him/her for a campus visit after he/she downloads your undergraduate prospectus.

Marketing automation takes care of the nurturing, education and qualify. That way you only need to hop on the phone when the time is right. And the automation doesn't stop after student’s induction into your university. You can continue to engage with your customers and keep the relationships alive with automated help. You can automatically send a birthday card for example without having to remember any dates.

In the context of higher education

Let's suppose, you have a new group of students and want to educate them about your campus. This is an opportunity for customer flow communication using marketing automation. It's a way to interact with students by combining online, mobile, and social into one central flow. By combining these channels of communication, it offers amazing communication potential. For example, freshman Ryan (one of your student persona) wants to get involved around campus to build his portfolio. This situation has a huge engagement potential. Ryan can opt in to receive text message event notifications so he knows what's up on campus all the time. Online surveys let him provide real-time feedback about campus issues.

And last but not the least, auto reminders are scheduled to kindly remind Ryan to make fee payments.

And when it comes to good marketing, nothing works better than some friendly, personalised communications with current and prospective students asking for referrals or offering additional services. All of this happens automatically as if you were doing it yourself, personal connection with your students without the personal time, that’s what marketing automation is all about. This kind of unique personalised communication experience can give your university an edge over the competition and make students feel like an individual and not a number. The best thing is, all of this is set up to function automatically so your work load decreases while student engagement goes up.

Customer flow communication using marketing automation is a powerful new way to approach student interaction and engagement.

There are many marketing automation tools out there packed with new and great features. Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, you name it. But I personally think Hubspot wins the battle in the higher education domain as it comes with great customer support.