Higher education marketing agencies can make a significant difference in the ROI of marketing budgets. Marketers working in higher education navigate unique challenges and balance competing priorities such as admissions, student & faculty satisfaction, alumni relationships, and fundraising.
Thankfully, there are a number of higher education marketing agencies that specialize in the higher ed space, bringing years of experience and unique expertise that can help define and achieve your marketing goals.
What do higher education marketing agencies do?
A higher-ed agency is an extension of a marketing team. These agencies fill skill gaps in areas of web design, promotion, branding, strategy, analytics, and much more. Higher ed marketing agencies might be the weight that tips the scales in maximizing a team’s work.
How to choose the right marketing agency
The higher education marketing agencies on this list have different areas of expertise, capabilities, ranges of service, and approaches. 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 higher ed involves multiple stakeholders, each with its unique perspective and measurement of success. An experienced agency knows how to establish a project plan that ensure projects run smoothly.
- Specialized of balanced portfolio?
- The agency should have a lot of experience working with colleges. But is it important to also work in other industries? That’s likely your choice, as an overly specialized business model could result in a lack of perspective…or not.
- A track record in delivering fresh ideas and innovative solutions
- You need to stand out from the sea of sameness to capture the attention of your audience. Which agency is likely to help you cut through an overwhelmed prospective student?
- 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. Your next agency should be able to integrate all these different systems. Integrated systems will unify your communications while becoming more effective collecting data for future marketing efforts.
What other tools can help a higher ed marketing team perform?
In our experience, a higher ed marketing team needs a few other tools to help them be successful. Here’s two areas where a team should make sure they are covered:
First, project management. A higher education marketing team can have hundreds of concurrent projects of varying complexity all due at different times. They need software that walks the tightrope of having the right amount of features, but is still easy to use.
Our recommendation: Workzone project management software. Workzone is the most experienced project management software team in the market and they work with hundreds of higher education marketing teams. and see what they can do for higher-ed teams.
Second, a CRM. A marketer needs to track all its applicants right? The world of higher-ed CRMs is as full as agencies so finding a suitable CRM shouldn’t be a problem. Check out this list by Workzone and this list by OHO, a higher-ed agency located outside Boston, MA.
Honorable mention to an email sending tool like Constant Contact or Mailchimp. An email tool doesn’t get its own category because many times a team can use their CRM to email, but we had to mention it anyway!
Higher Education Marketing Agencies List
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.
Up & Up has worked with the University of Kentucky, Florida State University, The University of Georgia, Clemson University, and George Mason University.
In a recent campaign for the University of Kentucky, Up & Up upgraded the course catalogs into a searchable database. This new database delivers a more accessible and immersive experience for students and a more manageable process for administrators.
Based outside of Boston, there aren’t many award-winning higher education marketing agencies like OHO. OHO is a digital agency specializing in digital strategy, research, website design, content strategy, and digital marketing. With nearly 20 years of experience, they have produced website and digital strategies for more than fifty colleges and universities, including Dartmouth and Holy Cross.
The final design for Boston Conservatory at Berklee received unanimous praise from everyone within the organization, including the president. The homepage featured a stunning autoplay video that illustrated the unique experience of attending Boston Conservatory at Berklee. The video set the tone for an emphasis on rich, immersive multimedia elements that permeate the site. The website experienced a 61% increase in admissions page visits, 22% increase in site visitors, and 5.9% increase in site visits.
Need your agency to really immerse themselves in your brand? Check out eCity Interactive. By specializing in website design, user research, and storytelling, eCity transforms your site 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.
Ologie’s clients include William & Mary, Northwestern, University of California, Purdue University, Pratt Institute, Gonzaga University, and more.
Ologie helped Pratt Institute redesign its website to appeal to their most important audience – the prospective students. By sharing stories from students, faculty, and alumni, the site gives visitors a true picture of student lives and culture.
Sparkroom offers an integrated service providing a software solution and marketing consultation. The hybrid offering helps streamline marketing efforts with the ultimate goal of boosting recruitment and enrollment.
Sparkroom has been named best agency for education in the LeadsCouncil LEADER Awards for Agency and Innovation. They have 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.
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, Oberlander has worked with the University of Albany, SUNY Cobleskill, Williams College, and Union Graduate College.
Oberlande 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.
The School of Science at Rensselaer increased its applications by 100% after Oberlander created new academic brochures.
With offices in New York City, Boston, Hartford, CT, and West Palm, FL, Primacy brings together data, technology, and ideas. They offer a wide variety of services such as branding, strategy, analytics, technology, marketing, user experience, creative, media, and more.
Primacy’s clients include Yale, Monmouth University, Emmanuel College, NYU Gallatin, Saint Michael’s College, and Regis University.
Primacy’s website redesign for Yale Law School involved a complete overhaul of their content management system and information architecture. The overhaul 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, UCLA, Cornell University, Trinity University, and Notre Dame.
160over90’s “Optimism campaign” for UCLA 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.
Based in Glenside, PA, 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.
PS&L has six offices in four states. Clients include Manor College, Wayland Baptist University, Mitchell College, Marywood University, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, and more.
Recent work for Neumann University 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.
You should always consider your individual needs when selecting an agency, including any past interactions. Have you had any past experience working with higher education marketing agencies? What are some things to look out for? Red flags? Green flags?