Time to refresh: Clifton College

Clifton College's digital marketing ace, Shannon Rodrigues, is third in our series on how digital tools can refresh your institution's brand

In your opinion, how does online marketing play a role in a brand refresh?
Building a strong brand is vital in today’s fast-paced digital world. The online environment is forever changing and with this, so is user interaction and behaviour. It is important to keep developing your brand along with current trends to maintain a competitive advantage and differentiate your brand from other competitors. In a school marketing environment it is important to showcase what your school has to offer and what makes it stand out amongst the rest.
When planning a brand refresh it is important to create a user-friendly online presence. In today’s digital world, there is an overload of information out there so it is essential to guide your target market through an accessible and easy-to-use interface.
It is important to make it as easy as possible for your target market to connect with your brand. If the customer is able to interact with your touch points on their own terms, then they are more likely to continue the customer journey and interacting with your brand becomes integrated into their daily lives.

What digital tools are out there to make branding easier?
One great thing about the digital world is the accessibility to a variety of platforms and services that are readily available for all to use and that can help even the novice digital marketer.
Whether you want to learn how to analyse data or create marketing material, there are tools and services available. These tools can help you with reach, leads, sales, conversions, engagement and referrals. I recommend researching the tools that would work best for you and your brand.
Some helpful digital marketing tools are Google Analytics, which helps you measure brand awareness and allows you to understand your website reach and analyse behaviour and patterns, and Hootsuite which allows you to host all of your social media platforms in one place, making it easier for you to manage your brand messaging.

What are the most important elements of a school/college/university brand in the digital age?
One element that is valuable for a school’s brand to maintain digitally is heritage and values whilst staying relevant and up-to-date with an ever-changing digital environment. Brand identity across all online platforms needs to be uniform in order to create seamless brand cohesion.
A website is an invaluable element that makes up the brand toolkit. It has to be engaging, accessible and user-friendly whilst being visually appealing and informative. Customers want to be able to access important information quickly, so it is important to have a good user journey, where your consumer can easily navigate through your website to key pages.

Do you think the use of digital tools is more important in a school, college or university setting, or is it the same across the board?
It is important in any business or institution to understand and analyse engagement, reach and to measure results. This is just as important in schools, colleges and universities, so it’s key to make sure that the marketing strategies and campaigns set in place are performing by using digital tools to track and measure these results. Using digital tools allows marketers to identify areas that need improvement or that have high engagement that they could use more of to achieve better campaign performance.

Have you seen any particular developments in the use of digital tools in institutions over the last 12 months?
Digital tools are becoming more accessible to everybody and it has become even easier for people to teach themselves how to use these tools.
Schools and universities are increasingly using 360-degree virtual tours, which I think are a great tool. It creates a virtual world and journey for a prospective parent to be able to ‘walk’ around the school and visualise it almost like a personal visit, this is great for parents who may not be able to come and visit the school.
Another noticeable development is the movement away from still imagery to video content. Visual movement is more interactive and engaging, allowing you to show snippets of school life from sports, to academics, to facilities.

Do you have any examples of education providers that are using digital tools to refresh their brand particularly well?
One example is King’s Bruton School who have set up a live streaming page. This enables parents or family members to live stream an event that they might not be able to attend. King’s Bruton School also make use of SoundCloud, a streaming platform which allows them to upload music from events that can be downloaded or listened to by parents.
Schools have also started to get their Headmaster or Headmistress involved in tweeting on a dedicated Head account where pupils, current parents and prospective parents can follow and interact with the Head of the school. This is a great way to keep your audience engaged with school life and adds a personal touch. This can be seen with Westonbirt’s Headmistress, Natasha Dangerfield, who regularly uses her Twitter account to post about the school and her thoughts on education.
At Clifton College, we use digital tools such as SEO Moz to help identify pages on our website where we can improve search optimisation to help boost brand awareness online. We also use Usersnap, an internal tool which helps track feedback from the website from staff to alert the marketing department of any amendments that are needed to keep the pages up to date and relevant.

For more on Clifton College visit cliftoncollege.com