7 of the Best Higher Education Marketing Campaigns to Inspire You

The world of higher education is highly competitive, with colleges and universities nationwide vying for prospective students’ enrollment. In order to stand out from the competition and influence students to enroll, higher education institutions need to demonstrate creativity in their marketing campaigns. 

Here are a few of our favorite higher education marketing campaigns to inspire yours.

  1. Harvard University – “Humans of Harvard” 

Nothing is more compelling than authentic stories, and Harvard University leveraged storytelling to execute their “Humans of Harvard” campaign. Drawing inspiration from Brandon Stanton’s wildly popular “Humans of New York” project, Harvard collected real stories from a variety of students that displayed its diversity and authenticity. 

While Harvard is one school that doesn’t need to recruit, how many students could have been discouraged before applying? Harvard’s campaign effectively widened the perception of who Harvard students can be.

  1. Skyline College – “And Yes… It’s Free!”

“Free college” may be something that’s talked about, but Skyline College delivers—and they deliver an excellent higher education marketing campaign to go with it. Skyline College is a community college in California’s Bay Area, and their promotional video says it all. One of Skyline key selling features is free first year tuition, free textbooks, free access to facilities, free tutoring, and even free transportation. Skyline knows what TurboTax knows: “free” sells.

  1. Augusta University – #BeBoundless

Augusta University leveraged their knowledge about their prospective students to create their #BeBoundless campaign. Since students are on social media, they decided that’s where they should be, too. The campaign focused on providing resources to students about how to land a job after graduation, where to find resources on campus, and ways to get involved in the university outside the classroom.

Read next: Video Is The Future of Enrollment Marketing

  1. The University of Nebraska, Lincoln – “Discover Nebraska”

A distinct challenge in higher education marketing is how, exactly, to position your university’s locations — especially when it’s a location not every prospective student necessarily knows much about. The University of Nebraska tackled that challenge head on with their “Discover Nebraska” native Instagram campaign. 

They use a highlight on their Instagram page to gather striking imagery that educates prospective students on things to know about Nebraska, what there is to do, and everything that the state has to offer.

  1. Saint Louis University –  Salesforce Integration

This is an example of a university using innovation and technology to stand out from the crowd.  In today’s higher education marketing environment, people expect to receive personalized and timely marketing messages that align with who they are. And with its sophisticated personalization technique, Saint Louis University delivers that exceptionally well. 

Prospective students on the site answer a few questions, and the answers they provide guide their experience using the site. No digging around for relevant information or reading through unnecessary blocks of text. Prospective students are able to get exactly what they’re looking for, on the first try. There’s also this slick video intro.

  1. Saint Xavier University – “SXU Cougar Diaries”

Marketing messages from the mouth of a university is one thing. But stories from real students? That’s another thing entirely—and it works when it comes to student recruitments. That’s what Saint Xavier University did right with its Facebook page, SXU Cougar Diaries: it passed the mic to students and let them handle the recruiting on their behalf. 

This marketing strategy is genius, as it allows prospective students to get a glimpse of what real students are working through: how to pick a major, studying strategies, ways to get involved on campus, and more. This grassroots campaign achieves a degree of authenticity that a polished campaign simply can’t.

  1. University of Phoenix – “Career Optimism”

One of the biggest reasons students attend college or universities is to get a good first job or a better job—and it’s wise to remember that when you’re creating your higher education marketing campaigns. That’s what the University of Phoenix does well. The university runs a Facebook campaign to promote its Career Optimism Index, which the university says was created to address “broad, persistent, and systemic barriers to career advancement”. 

This campaign is a great example of how to demonstrate thought leadership through your higher education marketing strategy. The campaign is full of useful statistics that lend itself to the University of Phoenix’s credibility as a career development expert. 

Are you ready to increase your qualified student inquiries? Thinking Cap Agency is here to help. We leverage our 30 years of experience, data-driven omnichannel solutions, proprietary research, team of specialized experts, and proprietary social media video marketing solutions to drive exceptional campaign results. Contact us today to get started. 

Christina OToole

Christina is a data-driven, full stack marketer with over 20 years success leading marketing in higher education, tech and publishing industries. She lead enrollment marketing programs for the both the University of California, Santa Barbara and UC San Diego continuing education divisions. Christina has developed hundreds of marketing campaigns and built all facets of programs including lifecycle journeys, creative direction and lead generation.