What Is a Creative Strategy in Higher Education?

Higher education marketers need to cut through saturated online spaces and overflowing inboxes to reach prospective students, all while standing out against the competition. This is where a creative strategy comes in. 

While numbers, data, goals, and benchmarks play a key role in marketing planning, a creative strategy is the key component that brings these plans to life. A creative strategy addresses the way in which a brand will show up in terms of voice, vision, and aesthetics — think font choices, video editing style, photo treatment, and tone of voice. Virtually anything that requires a style guide during marketing material creation is part of your creative strategy.                                                     

How to Engage Students: 4 Ways Videos and GIFs Can Benefit Your Higher Ed Strategy

In a sea of hundreds of thousands of companies competing for attention, higher ed marketers need to have a creative edge. This is why using GIFs and videos can make a huge difference in your efforts to engage students. They have a number of benefits that images alone simply don’t have, and they give your audience a better idea of what makes your company or higher education program tick.

If you want to move people to respond positively to your online advertising efforts, your ads should also move. Here are four benefits of investing in ads that utilize GIFs and videos.

1. Capture the Attention of Prospective Students

If you’re a higher ed marketer, your target audience is likely online a good chunk of the day, considering that more than 8 in 10 U.S. adults are online daily. 

Unfortunately, members of these audiences are often inundated with ads from your competitors. If you want to set your program apart and capture the attention of younger people looking to further their education, GIFs and videos are the way to go. To put it simply, ask yourself this: Would you be more likely to pay attention to a standard billboard or one that’s outside of the norm? The answer is the same for online advertising. If every ad your program publishes closely resembles the ads your competitors are posting, sooner or later, it will all become background noise for your target audience.

This is why, when creating student engagement strategies, you must put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. If you were looking into higher education programs, would your current ads entice you to click through? Your answer should be a resounding yes, and if it isn’t, you may want to reevaluate your current techniques.

To start, ask your current students what caused them to choose your school over others. Engage with members of your target audience to learn what they’re looking for in their higher education program, and use engaging videos and GIFs to highlight how your program fits those needs.

To most effectively engage students, your online advertising goal should always be to get prospects to stop, look, listen, and click. If you can do that, you’re likely to come out ahead of the competition and get the click-through rates (CTRs) you’re looking for.

2. Create More Opportunity to Add Information 

Engaging students can be difficult using still images. Fitting the message you want to share in one small image can be challenging, and you have to nail it with one frame. GIFs and videos allow for multiple frames to flip through. This means you can add significantly more information about your program and what you’re trying to advertise.

The more information your viewers receive about your school, the more they will be able to relate to it. When you relate to something, the possibility of you converting into a lead is significantly higher. So, if potential students like how your school is portrayed and can see themselves attending as a member of the student body, they may just click through to your website.

Here’s an example of a video we created for American University’s School of Education designed to encourage prospective students to raise their hands and transform education.

Another way you can include additional information is to add sound to videos, including voice-overs from a dean, a current student, former students who found success, or a faculty member. The possibilities video gives you for providing a deeper look into your program are endless, and it’s about time more schools took advantage of video in their advertising campaigns. Including moving advertisements as part of your student engagement strategy gives you access to those possibilities and can increase your brand reputation as a school that’s relatable.

3. Enable Better Storytelling

When you advertise online, you should ask yourself what the overall story is that you want to tell about your university or online program. How does that story address your target audience’s concerns and needs, and in what way does it portray your school?

Videos add a face, voice, and personality to your program, and they enable people to establish a connection to it and imagine themselves as part of the story, rather than as secondary characters. The most difficult part of advertising is creating that connection. Once you make it happen, your enrollment goals can follow.

If you want students to engage with your program, you can’t just rely on photos to entice them to click. You have to have a conversation with them, and videos make doing that easier.

4. Improve Your Student Engagement Performance With a Creative Strategy

Video ads consistently catch the eye of younger audiences. In fact, they’ve been shown to perform much better and bring in more leads than single image ads that contain stock photos. This is because they delve deeper into the overall story of your university, and they give people a better idea of what to expect when they enroll.

Videos and GIFs are also better performers because they give you more creative freedom. This said, if you are utilizing photos, you can certainly improve ad performance by adding zoom and pan effects. 

Remember, standing out from the crowd is possible. It just requires a more personal touch.

Let Us Show You How to Engage Students With a Creative Strategy

Trying something new with your creative team can be challenging. Maybe you don’t have a video editor on your team, or you don’t have the tools to create professional GIFs and videos. We can help. 

Archer Education partners with dozens of institutions to help them overcome enrollment challenges using tech-enabled, personalized enrollment marketing and management solutions. Our team will help you deliver engaging, one-to-one brand experiences that resonate with the students of today. Contact us now to request more information about Archer’s creative engagement strategies.