You Wrote That For Me?

Personalized email messages always grab my attention. When a message pops up in my inbox reading, “We’ve missed you Alli. Come back soon.” or, “Alli, we thought you’d like to more information, ” it feels like the sender is speaking to me directly.  Of course, I know these are automated responses. Still, I feel like someone is attuned to my needs. I will usually click on the links in these emails and revisit the website. Sometimes, I even complete a purchase I’ve been debating. For email marketers, these are successful exchanges.

I’m not alone in this behavior. New data shows the majority of recipients of personalized emails are more likely to take action. According to Harris Interactive, 81% of respondents said they were at least somewhat likely to make additional purchases, either online or in-store, as a result of targeted emails.

Higher education friends, you could employ these strategies successfully as well.

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Growing Ties with BTI

Sanmita is deepening its relationship with Cornell University’s Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, with Sanmita CEO and Founder Sanjeev Shukla now acting as BTI’s director of digital communications.

In this new role, Shukla will oversee BTI’s digital communications portfolio, including the website, social media and electronic news products. He will work in conjunction with BTI and the Sanmita team. This is a natural extension of Sanmita’s existing partnership with BTI and will improve coordination and digital strategy. Sanmita already manages design, programming and maintenance for the BTI website.  With Shukla in his new role, Sanmita and BTI can better coordinate and implement website strategy and digital programs.

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Six Ways to Improve Your School’s Website

Web design is a fluid art, and it may feel like your website is always in a state of redesign. That’s especially true for higher ed websites. Whether you’re considering minor tweaks to your site or tangled in the chaos of a complete redesign, it always helps to what prospective students want from college and university websites.

Of course, the most important things are clearly labeled content and intuitive usability. But there’s a lot more that goes into an excellent website. From our own experience building higher ed websites, as well as new data from the Nielsen Norman Group, here are six ideas for building better university websites:

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Crash Course in Social Media Policy

Is your Twitter feed or Facebook page your own private space?  That’s a hot topic in higher education right now. After the Kansas Board of Regents last month passed a controversial social media policy, many higher ed employees are concerned about their own school policies — and safeguarding their positions.

In December, the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, enacted a policy allowing school officials to discipline employees and faculty, including termination, for improper use of social media. It passed after a University of Kansas professor tweeted a critical comment about the National Rifle Association. (The professor was suspended but later reinstated). After an outcry from the community and free speech advocates, the board is reviewing the policy, but, for now, it stands.

Social media monitoring occurs at most schools, with minders searching for as much for promotable content as offensive posts. But the Kansas policy is by far the most rigid we’ve heard of, and a reminder that social media is very public indeed.  So what can social media users do to safeguard their free speech and their positions? Here are some sensible guidelines:

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Marketing Beyond Borders

Listen up college recruiting and marketing pros: The number of international students attending college in the U.S. hit record levels last year. As many colleges and universities struggle to increase enrollment, recruiting eager foreign students is a promising way to grow your student bodies. But since many of these prospective students do not travel to the U.S. to visit schools before they enroll, digital recruiting and marketing is key.

So how can student from Ho Chi Min City or Helsinki applying to the University of Nebraska needs to get a realistic view of life on campus? Through strong websites and robust social media.

For the 2012-13 academic year, 819,644 foreign students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, according to data from the Institute of International Education. That was a 7 percent jump from the previous year when 764,644 international students were enrolled in U.S. higher ed.

Nearly half of the international students come from three countries, China, India and South Korea. The number of Chinese students is burgeoning, up 21 percent last year with 235,000 students studying in the U.S. The number of students from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam also increased last year.

Most international prospective students rely solely on a school’s digital marketing and social media portfolio for their college search. Here are some digital marketing strategies to reach prospective foreign students:

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Social Media Multitasking

Facebook continues to be the dominant force in social media, but more Americans are using multiple social media networks and increasingly their daily consumption of social media.  This digital multitasking is spurring growth for players like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. And —  listen up digital marketers — consistency is key to your social media marketing plans.

We all know social media is pervasive, but just how popular have social media networks become? Nearly three quarters of online adults 18+ years old in the U.S. use social media, according to new data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.  And 43% of online adults are using multiple social media networks.

What’s particularly striking is how often users are visiting their favorite social media networks. Among Facebook users, 63% say they visit daily and 40% say they visit more than once a day.


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New Year, New Marketing Ideas

With the new year in full swing, we are rethinking digital marketing strategies for our higher ed clients. One exciting option is marrying social media marketing with more traditional marketing pursuits. One campaign can deliver twice the rewards!

Most higher ed institutions are already active on social media, and engaging with prospective and current students, faculty and alumni. You have connections, networks and followers. So how can you use those social media platforms to help marketing your institutions? You can do so by rethinking what you’re already doing on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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