Marketers working in the higher education industry often face unique challenges and need to navigate a multitude of factors and priorities, such as admissions, students & faculty satisfaction, alumni relationships, and fundraising.
Having an experienced marketing agency on your side to assist with branding, strategy, design, implementations, and analytics can make a significant difference in the ROI of your marketing budget.
Thankfully, there are a number of marketing agencies that specialize in the higher education space, bringing years of experience and unique expertise that can help define and achieve your marketing goals:
Based in Greenville, SC, Up & Up works with higher education institutions to devise brand platforms, marketing strategies, design, and content. Besides recruitment, they also help their clients engage alumni and drive giving and donation.
They have worked with the University of Kentucky, Florida State University College of Education, The University of Georgia, Clemson University, George Mason University, and Auburn University College of Architecture, Design & Construction.
In a recent campaign for the University of Kentucky, Up & Up upgraded the course catalogs into a searchable database that delivers a more accessible and immersive experience for students and a more manageable process for administrators.
Need your agency to really immerse themselves in your brand? Check out eCity Interactive. By specializing in website design, user research, optimization and storytelling, eCity is able to transform your institution’s digital approach into one worth truly talking about.
Their focus on inbound marketing and content is truly unique among agencies geared towards higher ed. Utilize their expertise to help you maximize your recruitment and/or philanthropy opportunities.
Established in 1999, eCity has worked with George Washington University, UPenn, Rutgers and more universities on developing campaigns that shine.
Ologie specializes in helping colleges discover their authentic stories and communicate their brands clearly through creating experiences across all media.
They offer research, strategy, positioning, experience design, planning, activation, and more.
Their clients include William & Mary, Northwestern, The University of Arizona, Sewanee: The University of the South, University of California, Purdue University, Pratt University, Gonzaga University, and more.
Ologie helped Pratt Institute redesign their website to appeal to their most important audience – the prospective students. By sharing relevant stories and examples of work from students, faculty, and alumni, the site gives visitors a true picture of student lives and culture at the institution.
Sparkroom offers an integrated service that provides a software solution and marketing consultation to help universities streamline marketing and operations to boost recruitment and enrollment.
They’ve been named best agency for education in the LeadsCouncil LEADER Awards for Agency and Innovation. It has worked with many colleges and universities across the US, offering marketing technology, enrollment marketing, and enrollment management services to support both campus-based and online programs.
Converge has a pretty remarkable client roster: UCLA, Northwestern Engineering, Tulane University, University of Southern California, University of Missouri, and the University of Notre Dame.
Their services include inbound marketing, digital advertising, website redesign, content strategy, Google analytics, and SEO.
In a recent project for Tulane, they completely revamped their B-school site to profile their faculty more prominently in an engaging way.
Oberlander Group has 29 years of award-winning experience helping colleges build stronger brands for admissions, alumni relationships, and fundraising.
They offer services in strategy, brand identity, design, digital, and advertising – such as brand development, logo design, websites, social media, print & digital advertising, radio & outdoor advertising, and more.
Located in Cohoes, NY, the agency has worked with the University of Albany, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Maria College, SUNY Cobleskill, Williams College, Union Graduate College, etc.
They revamped Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s viewbook, which communicates the meeting of legacy and innovation. The smart and fresh approach celebrates the spirit of technology while leveraging Rensselaer’s distinguished history for ground-breaking engineering.
They also created academic brochures for each of Rensselaer’s five schools and resulted in a 100% increase in applications for the School of Science.
With offices in New York City, Boston, Hartford, CT, and West Palm, FL, Primacy brings together data, technology, and ideas to deliver a wide variety of services such as branding, strategy, analytics, technology, marketing, user experience, creative, media, and more.
Their clients in higher education include Yale Law School, Monmouth University, Emmanuel College, NYU Gallatin, Saint Michael’s College, and Regis University.
Their website redesign for Yale Law School involved a complete overhaul of their content management system and repairing of a complex information architecture to bring order to over 10,000 pages of content – an endeavor that resulted in an 85% increase in content consumption on the site.
160over90 is a branding agency headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, with offices in Newport Beach CA and Gainesville, FL. It provides higher education institutions and other organizations with integrated marketing solutions to help solve business challenges in various areas.
Their clients include Duke University, University of Florida, University of Vermont, Trinity College, University of Hartford, UCLA, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Trinity University, and Notre Dame.
The agency created the “Optimism campaign” for UCLA that pulled in over 5 million views on social media and 500 million media impressions. Admissions increased over 36% and the university surpassed its fundraising goal by 12%.
Sullivan NYC’s work with Brown University amplified the institution’s promise of collaboration between students and faculty across disciplines and expressed the university’s unique personality.
They built a communication system that can adapt and evolve over the course of the 10-year campaign.
As a result, the university raised $1.015 billion just 4 months into the public campaign.
PS&L offers a mix of strategy and creative work for their clients in the higher education space. Their offerings include market research, consulting & planning, brand identity, multi-media marketing, enrollment marketing, visual identity, video, web services, and advertising.
Based in Glenside, PA and with six satellite offices in four other states, their clients include Manor College, Wayland Baptist University, Mitchell College, Marywood University, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, and many more.
Their recent work for Neumann University encompasses critical research, brand, and identity development and stewarded the institution’s transition from college to university while increasing the enrollment rate.
This Boston-based agency has a team of inventive brand strategists, designers, and developers who build integrated admissions and advancement communications programs for colleges, universities, and independent schools.
Kor offers services in brand strategy, design, and web – including integrated communications plans, brand positioning and messaging, brand identity program, online marketing programs, environmental graphics, user experience design, information architecture, and social media marketing.
Kor’s seven-year relationship with Emerson College has enhanced the school’s reputation and positioned it as a strong liberal arts college with a focus on communications and arts.
During this time, undergraduate admission application grew by 12.5% in the first year and 50% after four years. Graduate applications increased by 30% in certain programs and their admissions system was awarded Best of Show in the Annual Admissions Advertising Report.
Located in Westford, MA and founded in 1983, Carnegie has extensive experience in integrated marketing for higher education enrollment.
Carnegie runs the leading student portal, CollegeXpress, which has over 3 million student visitors annually. It creates customized online profiles for their clients on the portal to enhance lead generation efforts and build their enrollment pipeline.
They also work with their clients on digital strategy, specializing in SEO, PPC, online display advertising, retargeting, social media advertising, mobile marketing, and more.
mStoner has been working with higher education clients since 2001 with several U.S. offices.
Their capabilities span strategy, creative, and technology, offering services in web strategy, content strategy, brand strategy, marketing planning, user experience, usability testing, video production, and content management system.
They have worked with an extensive list of clients, including Heartland Community College, Tufts University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Nevada State College, Rush University, Johnson & Wales University, Tulane University, Loyola Marymount University, Brown University, Drake University, and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
The homepage redesign for Tuft University encompasses a cohesive content strategy for all media channels. The new strategy addressed Tufts’ main external communications goal for the site, which is to create an intuitive, compelling browsing experience for prospective students.
The new website launched with an overwhelmingly positive reception, boosting page views by 145% and 173% in the faculty & staff sections and the student section respectively.
Lipman Hearne is a Chicago-based agency that specializes in branding, strategy, and multichannel communications for higher education institutions.
Over their 49 years in business, they have worked with over 700 institutions, including University of Pittsburgh, Chicago Community Trust, University of Iowa College of Law, University of Miami, and many more.
In an innovative communications project for the University of Pittsburgh aimed at converting visitors to applicants, the agency strategized and designed a gamified social media ambassadors program that generated tens of thousands of engagements, thousands of clickthroughs, and numerous deposits.
Choosing the Right Marketing Agency
The agencies on this list have different areas of expertise, capabilities, ranges of service, and unique approach so it’s important that you choose the right fit for your projects.
To select the right agency to assist with your marketing effort, consider the following:
- Experience in developing project plans for complex institutions – A typical marketing project in a higher ed institution involves multiple stakeholders, each with its unique perspective and measurement of success. An experienced agency knows how to establish a project governance plan to ensure that the right stakeholders are involved during the appropriate stages of the project.
- A balanced portfolio – Even though it’s a no-brainer that the agency should have a lot of experience working with higher ed institutions, an overly specialized business model could result in a lack of perspective and exposure to innovative ideas.
- A track record in delivering fresh ideas and innovative solutions – If you want to capture the attention of your audience who’s likely to be overwhelmed by communications from other institutions, you need to stand out from the sea of sameness.
- Ability to architect an integrated technical infrastructure – Marketers for universities and colleges often have to navigate complex technology landscapes with multiple data sources, applications, and systems. The ability of an agency to integrate all these different systems can help you create a more unified approach to communicating with students, faculty, and alumni while becoming more effective in collecting data to inform future marketing efforts.
What’s your experience working with marketing agencies? What are some things to look out for? Leave a comment below and share your insights: