It is inevitable that online learning is the future. In fact, we would go as far as to say that the coronavirus crisis has sped the inevitability, not caused it. As the internet grows, so does its impact on the learning sector. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that universities begin maintaining and growing their online university brand.
Maintaining an online university brand is just not an education marketing gimmick. It is about emerging in the market as a thought leader and pioneer who has paved the way for others with regard to online methods of taking courses.
In this article, we will focus on how to maintain an education marketing strategy and how to build an online university brand that is sustainable in the long run.
How to Build an Online University Brand
1. Focus on the Student
If universities want to be known as the best in their field, they cannot do so without being entirely student-focused.
This includes not just teaching students but also being with them every step of the way in their learning journey. After students learn a topic, they must be measured on their knowledge (not as a way to punish them, but to measure the success of the course and to understand how to bridge any knowledge gaps). Additionally, universities must interact with students continuously, through discussion forums and query corners – these tools are vital to understanding the thought process of your students and the troubles they face.
2. Keep True to your Vision
Before you begin developing the online brand of your university, one of the most important things to remember the “Message” your university follows. What separates your university from other competitors? Once your university has decided to move online, what are your main focus points? It could be anything, but whatever it is, it’s important to remember that a university must not deviate from it for the sake of profits and in the name of education marketing. Remember, to build a brand, one must provide consistent results for many years.
3. A Digital Library Makes for Better Learning
Access to a digital library is of paramount importance because students nowadays have a short attention span. In fact, it is no longer enough for universities to provide traditional professors, lecture-based modules. Universities should instead opt for teaching delivery modules that engage students formally and informally.
For example, instead of just talking about a subject during classes, a professor can supplement a theory or a topic with interactive ppts, or use the annotate option to get students to write answers or draw something. Professors must also make use of a digital library, if available, and use videos that bring subjects to life.
4. Ensure that your Platform is Well-Suited for Users
One of the most important things to consider before you perform any higher education marketing activities is the state of your online platform. There is no point in developing an online university brand if your university has static, unresponsive learning platforms (or worse yet, no learning platform). The first thing you need is to understand who your learners are. They are most likely the generation Z, the youngest generation who have truly grown with technology at their disposal. On the other end, you have professors who are not entirely familiar with the technology.
In order to meet both parties halfway, it is vital that universities have to use platforms that are intuitive, easy to use, and efficient.
5. A Learning Management System is your Main UPS.
To build a successful online university brand, it is vital that your university has an integrated learning management system. For this, one needs a one-for-all platform, where students and professors can perform all their tasks under a single roof. Consider a platform where students and teachers can place all the assignments in one section, so as to avoid tedious back and forth emails.
Gamification is a huge plus in this regard. If your university learning management system supports gamification for learning, then your university will be applauded as the institute makes learning fun. You could also utilize this section by ensuring that the coins and badges earned by students earn them some perks in your university. The possibilities are endless.
Remember, in this regard, universities run like businesses. The simpler the platform, the more the interaction will be.
6. Reiterate your University Branding on your Platform
If you have the option, make sure you use your university theme wherever you can on your online platform. This includes the university colors and logo. If you have online certifications, make sure you use customized certifications with your logo and colors. Students need to know that you completely own every aspect of your online platform.
7. Ensure Mobile Readiness
Laptops are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Students are moving to smaller and smaller platforms such as tablets and mobile phones. To be considered a “leader” in the field of virtual education, you must ensure that your platform is mobile-friendly and responsive. This refers to not just your university platform and blog but also your learning management system, which forms the core of your brand’s online unique selling point.
8. Content is Everything
Start a blog that acts as an information center as well. Your blog can include commonly asked questions by students as well as others, such as “how to articles” about common university procedures such as paying certain charges, fees, fines, etc.
Other content could consist of articles about certain courses or perhaps “interesting facts about microbiology you didn’t know”. Whatever you write, make sure your articles are well-written with no grammar errors. It would not look good if an education university makes mistakes.
9. Update, Update, Update
Ensure that your website is always updated. Keep students and parents in the know about the latest exam dates, where it takes place, and how to register. Interact with your students and ensure that all relevant information is posted about any events that are happening.
10. Metrics are your Friend
It is imperative that you track your online analytics if you want to stay at the top of your online branding game. We’re not just talking about analytics such as how many people visited which page or who clicked where on which page. No. We’re also talking about analytics that is centered around your students. Which courses are most taken, which courses have the highest dropout rates, which courses have the lowest scores. It is metrics like these that impact your university’s long term branding. Performance metrics like these are often more important than website metrics.
Whatever steps you may take, remember that it is always student-first. Without imparting knowledge, you cannot build a university brand, try as you may.