TerminalFour has launched the results of its global higher education research into the role digital strategies are playing in modern higher education institutions. As universities and colleges compete on the global stage this research explores how they are using digital engagement to promote their brand to an international audience and to support recruitment, retention and funding goals.
The research was conducted online with 248 marketing, IT and senior management representatives from 169 higher education institutions around the world. The majority of the respondents came from the UK and the US with the remainder from Australia, Canada, Ireland and South Africa.
Some of the key findings include:
* Control of online strategy has moved from the IT team to a collaborative effort between web, marketing, alumni and recruitment
* Student recruitment is driving digital engagement strategies at nine out of ten higher education institutions while student retention is only impacting strategies at 34% of institutes
* Similarly, only 38% of respondents stated their institution concentrates on alumni engagement and fundraising activities when developing their web strategies
* Breaking this down by country, 32% of the US respondents and 13% of UK respondents are concentrating on alumni engagement
* 65% of respondents have a dedicated international website
* Measurement is a major priority, with 82% of respondents having real-time integration with analytics platforms to track the success of content and social media platforms
* 57% of respondents stated that prospective student leads generated online are not being measured by CRM systems
* When it comes to social media, 95% of respondents dedicate the majority of their efforts to Facebook, followed closely by Twitter (94%)
* Facebook’s influence is expected to decline and Twitter will become the most important social media channel in 12 months’ time for 84% of respondents
* 35% of respondents have an active presence on geographical social media channels.
* Vine, Snapchat and Pinterest have yet to make an impact with only 1.6% of institutions using these channels
Piero Tintori, CEO, TerminalFour commented: ‘We conducted this survey as universities and colleges are now competing in a much more globalised environment and need to deliver a clear and distinguishable brand to a wider audience. In order to survive in this market, online communications and effective strategies have become essential to help higher education institutes achieve their overall organisational goals.
‘We were surprised by a number of the findings in this research, not least the low number of respondents who are using their web strategies to achieve student retention and alumni engagement objectives. Future state funding and alumni support is inextricably linked with student retention. All of today’s students and alumni operate in a virtual world and online communication offers an effective way to communicate with them on a personal level and foster the relationships that will lead to lasting connections.
‘It is also interesting to note that US colleges appear to be much more interested in alumni relations than their UK counterparts at present. The US has a long history of fostering strong alumni relationships and with budget cuts and visa reforms taking place in the UK they need to start prioritising these relationships in their online strategies.’
The full report on the TERMINALFOUR higher education web survey is now available for download from: www.terminalfour.com/survey2014/