Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

What's new in online marketing for 2008?

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A fine New Year's greeting to everyone reading this.

As I write from Marshall, Michigan, the sun shines on a deep snow that will disappear soon as the temperature heads for 50 degrees by Sunday. Similar dramatic changes in trends aren't likely in the world of online marketing, but new things are happening all the time. Let's take a moment and ponder some points raised at ClickZ.

Heidi Cohen does a nice job in "Seven Top Online Marketing Trends for 2008" at http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3628001 to outline important expectations in online marketing.

Email Marketing, Social Networking, Mobile Marketing

Three things she writes about seem most relevant for the higher education marketing world:

  • Yes, people continue to grow tired of "promotional" email designed to sell them things that don't already interest them. That doesn't bode well for "search" marketing email efforts in 2008 unless the messages are very carefully targeted indeed to well-defined groups. On the other hand, I agree with Heidi that email (especially email newsletters) will continue to have a strong role to play with people who have expressed interest in particular colleges and universities. But one email "blast" (does anyone else hate that term as much as I do?) won't do nearly as well as email that takes into account where people are in the college selection process and matches content to special interests of the readers.
  • Growth in social networking online will come from "more targeted offerings that attract users  based on interest." This might provide opportunity for recruitment engagement based on careful matches with the interests of people in a particular group. For Heidi, this aspect of social networking will grow more rapidly than the larger Facebook and MySpace efforts.
  • Mobile marketing won't take off this year. Two reasons for this. First, many people just don't like the complexity of the devices used for mobile marketing communications. Second, there's no agreement yet on a common platform to use for communicating. For sure, many marketing people continue to believe that mobile marketing has a future. But if Heidi is right, don't fret if you don't develop a strong program in this area in 2008.

Overall, expect marketing resources to continue to shift toward online efforts. That's the one constant that almost everyone seems to agree on. No, print and broadcast media still isn't about to disappear. But in 2008, higher education marketing resources should continue to shift in the online direction. Onless you are an alchemist, that likely means less resources for print and traditional advertising and more for online efforts. For many colleges, that's still a difficult transition.

2008 New Year's Resolution

To better keep up with what's happening, make a 2008 resolution to subscribe to the ClickZ newsletters and research reports that are of most interest to you. Visit the home page at http://www.clickz.com/ and explore to find the most valuable content for your own marketing activities.

Exciting and important things will happen in 2008. I'm looking forward to sharing many of those with you and to hearing about the innovations you are making in your own online marketing efforts.

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