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Top 4 Digital Priorities for Higher Ed CMOs

Authors: Chris Lucas
Posted Under: Content Marketing
Top 4 Digital Priorities for Higher Ed CMOs
photo credit: matt.hintsa via cc

According to new research from Formstack, 35% of universities currently have a Chief Marketing Officer, or CMO. In this relatively new role, CMOs are changing how higher education approaches marketing. With the right digital priorities, CMOs can have a forward-thinking impact on higher ed marketing.

Take a page out of the university CMO’s textbook with these 4 must-have digital priorities:

1. A Strategic Marketing Plan

A strategic plan is a critical priority for an effective CMO. Casting vision is one of the most important tasks for marketing leadership. Universities with CMOs are 49% more likely to have strategic marketing plans. As a result, these schools are better-positioned to outperform their competition.

Use of marketing tools will continue to increase as strategic plans are more refined. When CMOs leverage technology, they are able to create a smarter funnel for their prospective students. CMOs can collect and nurture leads throughout the student lifecycle with A/B tests and customized analytics. From prospective students to alumni, technology creates tracking and evaluation.

2. Total Brand Consistency

One of the top roles of a CMO is ownership of the institutional brand. CMOs can enforce consistent brand guidelines and improve brand recognition. Currently, 45% of percent of higher ed professionals think their marketing department needs to focus more on brand.

As they continue to leverage technology, marketing executives will need to make brand consistency across all channels a top concern. If CMOs adopt marketing tools that allow for customized branding, they will be less likely to have a branding patchwork. As CMOs make decisions about digital solutions, they should choose the tools that help them maintain a consistent brand.

3. Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)

Customer Relationship Management software is quickly becoming a must in many higher ed marketing departments. With CRM tools, marketers can easily manage prospective and current students, parents, and alumni. CMOs clearly see a value in CRMs, which is why they are more likely to use it: Universities with marketing leadership are 20% more likely to use CRMs than those without leadership.

CRM can be used throughout the student lifecycle. The software is most popular when engaging with prospective students in the admissions process. Surprisingly, only 26% of schools currently use CRM for alumni and donor engagement. As technology usage increases, alumni management may be an area for growth.

4. Marketing Automation Software

While marketing automation software is less common than CRM, its use in higher ed is growing among schools with CMOs. Universities with marketing leadership are 78% more likely to use marketing automation than those without it. The most popular areas for marketing automation include email marketing, social media management, analytics, and online forms. 

Marketing automation allows CMOs to able to save time and increase productivity in their departments. CMOs who leverage marketing automation tools understand the importance of using technology to nurture relationships and reach their audience.

CMOs Invest in Key Marketing Solutions

Digital marketing has become an integral part of higher ed. The top tools that CMOs should focus on are CRM, marketing automation, email marketing, online forms, analytics, and social media management. These tools address some of the most important areas of higher ed digital marketing.

Higher ed professionals want to see ROI from CMOs’ efforts. In fact, 29% of higher ed professionals want their CMOs to prioritize marketing activities that boost enrollment and fundraising.

CMOs who use digital tools are more data-minded in their marketing decisions. As a result, universities with CMOs are well-positioned with clear and successful digital strategies.

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