Why You Should be Using Video Marketing for Higher Education

Video for higher education marketing

Video marketing has become increasingly pervasive and persuasive in just about every industry. Driven by the conjunctional forces of advancing technology and shifting consumer behavior, video has the power to compellingly communicate vast amounts of information in a minimum amount of time.

This is especially important in the increasingly competitive Higher Education space where much of the marketing and recruiting messaging and collateral has become productized, commoditized, and standardized. On paper (literally) via direct mail, viewbooks, billboards, and other printed or static electronic marketing, including banner ads, text reads, emails, and even websites, it is hard to tell the difference between many schools.

Often, the ultimate differentiator between college choices is how a potential student “feels” about a school, especially when they visit campus. But now, (and it still remains to be seen for how long) students are forgoing campus visits, and video provides an opportunity to accurately capture an institution’s ethos and “feel” that is difficult to do any other way. The story, soundtrack, visuals, voiceover, pacing, and production quality all combine to create a connection and emotional response.

And this is where the power and importance of video as the ultimate storytelling medium comes in.

Connect Through Story and Emotion

Done with intentionality and consistency, video storytelling can distinguish schools in a way few static campaigns can – emotionally. Emotion is generated by personal experience. The richer and more personal the experience, the deeper the associated emotional response.

Very few direct mail pieces move readers to tears or give them the chills. A traditional email or direct mail campaign can be on-message and on-brand in every way and yet fail to create a connection or evoke an emotional response.

The Story Hasn’t Changed – But How You Need to Tell it Has

As our lives move more and more online, and the line between reality and virtual reality becomes harder to define, consumers will follow the path of least resistance to brands that provide instant access to highly relevant content. Big (and little) data will drive the creation of increasingly personalized experiences, but having the data is not enough for large and complex purchase decisions that take place over long periods of time. Incorporating that data to deliver compelling content in a personally meaningful and memorable way will separate the brands and institutions that survive and thrive…and those that don’t.

It’s video or vanish for companies attempting to lure Gen Z consumers as Cisco estimates that video will account for 82% of internet traffic globally by 2022, up from 75% in 2017, and that live video will grow 15-fold over that time to account for 17% of Internet video traffic by 2022, with half of all video traffic viewed on mobile.

Video, with its multi-dimensionality, is the medium most like “real-life,” and often better than real-life from a storytelling perspective. Video allows a story to be perfectly crafted and consistently delivered for optimal impact every time. Messaging, visuals, voice, and music combine to bring a narrative to life and create an experience greater than the sum of the parts capable of connecting on a very personal, emotional level. Here’s what we did for the St. Francis College new admit and new prospect campaigns.


Virtual Campus Visits

Personal emotion is where the opportunity for many schools to create a connection with prospective students will be won or lost. While there are many important factors that go into the college decision process, the intangible feeling of “this is the place” is at the top.

More and more prospects will be researching and “visiting” schools virtually to develop or shorten their list of potential schools and video will play a major role in shaping prospects’ initial perception of each institution.

Schools will be judged not just by their story, but by how well they tell their story to today’s audiences.

Developing a Video Marketing Strategy

For many schools, the problem is not a lack of video content. With high-quality, relatively inexpensive cameras, drones, and smartphones, creating a volume of content is not the issue. The roadblock to great video marketing is the lack of a centralized strategy that defines and organizes video that elevates the narrative.

Schools benefit when they think about video strategy and production in a comprehensive and coordinated way that elevates their brand and is delivered consistently across a broad spectrum of delivery channels, purposes, and audiences. Videos should be:

  1. Highly produced,
  2. Contain personalized content,
  3. And user-generated content

Comprehensive video strategy and assets are built from a central story, narrative, and theme—a model built with distribution in mind.

Now you can cascade the story in meaningful and efficient ways to a variety of audiences across a number of video formats (short-form, long-form, personalized, non-personalized, etc.) via different delivery modalities (direct mail, brochures, viewbooks, flyers, posters, signage, email, text, ads, social, etc.).

Video Marketing for Student Recruitment

The most robust path for video marketing is the student recruitment funnel, where we can infuse video throughout the whole process starting with new search outreach marketing via short video trailers to increase initial interest. A “watch your story unfold” concept leads to more longer-form and personalized video experiences delivered at strategic moments. At the same time, your school website and social accounts are saturated with relevant and reinforcing video.

Start by creating a strong central story and identifying the area(s) of greatest need such as:

  1. New Student Search Campaigns
  2. Applicant Communications
  3. Parent Messaging
  4. Financial Aid
  5. Admissions & Enrollment
  6. Welcome to Campus
  7. Commencement
  8. Alumni Office
  9. Development & Fundraising Campaigns

The Importance of User-generated Content

Along with highly produced video content, it is also important to include User-Generated Content (UGC) in your video marketing strategy. The power of UGC is becoming increasingly apparent as Gen-Z prospects seek out “authentic” content through social channels, including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube. This content can also be leveraged across your university marketing initiatives to provide a “real-feel” student perspective to complement more highly produced content.

Creating Personal Connections Virtually

Creating personal connections virtually is suddenly more important than ever. When prospective students can’t come to campus, schools need to go beyond brochures and virtual tours. This is how to connect with individual prospects on an emotional level – one that shares what it feels like to be on campus and part of their unique community.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, “virtual reality” has taken a whole new meaning as we all find ways to work and create and maintain connections at a distance. As we adjust to our collective new normal, schools are anxious to refocus on two of the most affected groups – prospective students and upcoming graduates – whose worlds have been turned upside down and who are unable to come to campus at two of the meaningful points in their lives. Nothing can replace being there, but Sextant can help you leverage your existing video assets to create powerful personalized videos that connect on an emotional level and share what it feels like to be on campus and part of your unique community – whether visiting to make a final enrollment decision or walking to receive a diploma.

The future is here now.

The trends are clear, and the tools are available.

Storytelling is more important than ever.

Connecting virtually is critical.

Personalized experiences are paramount.

Video is the medium of the moment and the foreseeable future.

The ability to deliver compelling content in personally meaningful and memorable ways will separate the brands/institutions that survive and thrive from those that don’t.

You will be judged…by your video.