14 Higher-Ed Marketing Conferences You Must Attend in 2017 and 2018

Maison Piedfort

Whether you’re looking at statistics that say the number of higher education institutions is on the rise, or ones saying enrollment in higher ed continues to decline, one thing’s for sure: you’ve got to make sure your university or college stands out.

How will you do it? These 14 conferences might have a thing or two to say about higher ed marketing and how you can use it for recruitment, retention, and alumni engagement.


1. AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education

higher ed marketing conferences -- ama symposium

When: November 12-15, 2017

Where: Atlanta, GA

Why: If you’re going to go to a conference about marketing, it’s probably wise to go to the one put on by—you know, a group made up of the best marketers in the nation

The AMA has put together this conference especially for higher ed marketers to talk about trends in enrollment, what it means for institutions and their branding, and how to dominate on social media. You’ll talk recruitment strategy (from Millennials to Boomers) and fundraising; and since you’re in Atlanta, you might want to see if you’ll be able to hit a Falcons game.


2. American Counsel on Education (ACE) Annual Meeting

higher ed marketing confreneces -- ace

When: 2017 conference passed; expect the 2018 conference sometime in March

Past locations: San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC

Why: Only because everyone who’s anyone in higher ed is going to be there.

This is probably the oldest conference on this list; its 2018 annual meeting will be its 100th—so expect something big. Every year, nearly 2,000 deans and presidents get together to talk everything higher ed—focusing less on marketing and strategy than social justice issues, innovation, and higher ed’s role in changing the world.

So will you be learning how to use SEO on your College of Business’s site? Probably not. But you’ll walk away from it thinking about the deeper things: your institution’s purpose, its mission; its role in a better tomorrow. And that’s the kind of deep stuff that helps build a killer marketing message.


3. The Carnegie Conference

higher ed marketing conference at carnegie

When: January 17-18, 2018

Where: Orlando, FL

Why: Why? WHY?! Disney, that’s why.

I guess the geniuses at Carnegie Communications were like, hmm, where’s the best place to talk recruitment and marketing strategy? And someone was like, Disney World, obviously.

If you’re a recruitment marketer, go ahead and clear your calendar for mid-January, because this is where you want to be. (Especially if you’re normally in the less-sunny parts of the country around that time.)

Carnegie Comm. CEO Joe Moore, Genuinely CEO Mack Fogelson, and digital leadership expert Josie Ahlquist are just a few of the speakers next year, and they’re still adding more.


4. CASE Social Media Conference

higher ed marketing conference new orleans

When: March 14-16, 2018

Where: New Orleans, LA

Why: The short answer: social media.

If you’re in charge of marketing for enrollment and alumni, this conference by The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) was made for you. You’ll talk strategic storytelling and social engagement; and if you go early enough, you’ll be able to have a hands-on lesson in celebrating Mardi Gras, too.

Need other marketing help, like on topics other than social media? CASE is amazing for putting on all kinds of conferences on every higher ed topic under the sun; check ‘em out here!

5. Confab Higher Ed

When: November 6-8, 2017

Where: Indianapolis, IN

Why: Content! Strategy!

Higher ed content experts gather from around the country to talk about the content challenges faced uniquely by you, the higher ed professional.

Enjoy a keynote by Senior Associate Director of Digital Media and Web Development from Boston College Ravi Jain. Come for workshops, breakout sessions, and networking; stay for the cake.


6. ContentEd

higher ed marketing conference -- content ed conference

When: 2017 passed; expect the 2018 conference sometime in June

Where: London, UK

Why: Pickle Jar Communications’s brand new conference for higher ed professionals kicked off with a bang just this year.

The wise folks at Pickle Jar were like, you know who could use some lessons in content marketing? Higher ed institutions. And so they’ve created this conference to teach you how to dominate in the content space, whether that content marketing is targeting potential recruits, alumni, or the community at large.

We’ve just missed the 2017 conference, but no fear! They’ve got some nifty looking workshops to hold you over in the meantime. If you can make it overseas this fall, it looks like you won’t regret it.


7. Converge 2019


higher ed marketing conference converge

When: February 19-22, 2019

Where: Atlanta, GA

Why: So. Many. Reasons.

How about for learning higher ed marketing strategy straight from handpicked speakers from around the world, like higher-ups at Harvard, Temple, and UNC Chapel Hill?

Or what about for the networking? Or free personal headshots?

Perhaps for the workshops and breakout sessions on recruitment strategy and marketing innovation?

Yeah, Converge has all of that covered. You’ve got over a year to plan for your ticket to the next conference. No excuses.


8. edUi

higher ed marketing conference edui

When: September 25-27, 2017

Where: Charlottesville, VA

Why: Okay, so here’s the deal: this conference put on by the Virginia Foundation is for for web professionals in the knowledge sector (higher ed + libraries and museums) and is all about web design and UX.

But it’s also about social media and internet presence, and that’s why we think you should go. Especially if your role as a higher ed marketer includes some the back-end stuff like SEO and coding.

Even if you don’t handle the back-end stuff yourself, attending edUi 2017 will help you communicate better with your web designers as you work together toward a common goal: recruiting, retaining, and engaging through online marketing.


9. EduWeb Digital Summit

When: August 7-9, 2017

Where: Boston, MA

Why: Workshops, breakout groups, and brainstorming sessions galore.

The 2017 EduWeb Digital Summit is happening—well, pretty much NOW; but have no fear, it’s back every year around this time. If you can’t make it this year, keep an eye on the site to see what’s in store for next year.

Every year the EduWeb folks dive into marketing strategy for higher ed pros: email and content marketing, social media, data and analytics, web and mobile design strategy, and web tools and hacks.

Basically, you can to expect to learn—well, everything.


10. HighEdWeb

higher ed marketing conference -- high ed web conference

When: October 8-11, 2017

Where: Hartford, CT

Why: A few years back, the best and brightest higher ed professionals from around the globe got together and called themselves the Higher Education Web Professionals Association (or just HighEdWeb Association for short) and they’ve been doing cool things for higher ed ever since.

And one of the coolest of those things is the HighEdWeb conference, now in its 9th year.

Head to Connecticut this year to spend the turn of the season in the most autumn-y place in the country, perfect for getting in the mood for learning all things higher ed on the web, including content and email marketing, storytelling, brand reputation, and purposeful web design.

I mean, just look at some of the workshop names. It’s gonna be cool.


11. Higher Ed Content Conference


higher ed marketing conference higher ed content conference

When: April 2018

Where: Online!

Why: If you’re in charge of the content marketing strategy at your institution—and if you can’t ever seem to find the time or resources to make the trek to one of these in-person conferences—then this one’s SUPER for you.

Every year Higher Ed Experts puts on this online conference to get down and dirty with content marketing, SEO, and social media. Oh, and don’t be all sketched out because it’s an online thing. This knowledge hoedown is legit, with a focused session for each speaker (usually 10-12), printables, and Q&A sessions.

Don’t want to wait until next April? Check out their online courses in the meantime!


12. SMX London

  1. higher ed marketing conference smx london

When: 2017 conference passed; expect the 2018 conference around May

Past locations: both 2016 and 2017 held in London, UK

Why: Search Marketing Expo puts on stellar search marketing conferences every year, and SMX London is one of them.

It’s not just for higher ed pros, but it is for anyone who wants to further their SEO/SEM knowledge. So if you feel like sending the SEO person on your team to London next year for appearances by top dogs from huge brands, seasoned keynote speakers, and a boot-camp for getting you into quick SEO shape, let them know now; I’m sure they’ll be pumped.


13.  University of Illinois Web Conference

When: April 4-6, 2018

Where: Online!

Why: Here’s another conference you can reap all the benefits from in your PJs while scooping cereal into your mouth. 

But just because you’ll be in cereal dust-covered PJs doesn’t mean you won’t learn a ton. U of Illinois puts on this conference every year, and boy, when they do, they give the inside scoop on allll the goods.

I’m talking top industry knowledge from Snapchat/Facebook department heads themselves on stuff about design, social media, and content management. I’m not even in higher ed and now I’m kind of itching to go. (Or is that the cereal dust?)


14. UPCEA Marketing and Enrollment Management Seminar

higher ed marketing conference upcea

When: December 5-7, 2017

Where: Washington, DC

Why: UPCEA’s purpose is to “showcase thought leadership in our field and to explore trends in adult student recruitment and retention.” So marketers in professional, continuing, and online education, this one’s for you.

It sounds like—after 26 years of hosting seminars filled with industry pros from around the world—UPCEA’s really got it together. Deep-dive sessions and more general sessions work together give you the bigger picture of all things marketing and enrollment management.


Where Will Your Journey to Better Higher Ed Marketing Take You?

How will you find your soul students next year? The people that’ll be the perfect fit for you?

How will you attract and keep students this fall, and next winter, and for semesters to come? We suggest letting one of these 14 conferences help you find the answer.