Investing in your marketing strategy can have tremendous payoffs for your institution and hiring a marketing agency can help you realize those benefits quickly and effectively. But what should you be looking for? Here, we’ll cover questions you should ask when evaluating your options, including:
  • Does the agency have experience in higher education?
  • Does the agency value transparency?
  • What services does the agency offer that align with my goals?
  • Do these services fit in my budget?

Choosing to hire a higher education marketing agency is a big decision to make, but it can bring about enormous benefits for your college or university’s enrollment funnel.

The right fit agency will act as both an extension of, and a complement to, your internal marketing team. Not only will an agency assist in performing various marketing activities depending on the scope of work, but it will also bring an additional layer of expertise in an area that your team may not be familiar with.

Let’s say your team is looking to apply marketing automation to your processes. Any agency that knows the ins and outs of the common marketing automation tools will help you hit the ground running and get the most value out of your investment as possible.

An inbound marketing agency can do this as well, while adding value by helping you apply a holistic and highly-beneficial marketing methodology in order to develop and implement a full-funnel strategy.

But, how do you find the right agency for your college or university’s needs? Let’s take a look at some of the top considerations to keep in mind.

How to Choose a Higher Education Marketing Agency

When evaluating potential marketing agency partners, ask yourself:

Does the agency have experience in higher education?

When bringing in an outside team to help you work toward your institution’s enrollment goals, it’s important to look for an agency with demonstrated experience in the higher education industry.

For example, an average agency will have a strong understanding of the typical sales funnel. An agency that is familiar with higher education, however, will understand the unique structure of the enrollment funnel and admissions process, as well as the duties your internal team is likely responsible for in order to drive your institution’s growth. With this existing knowledge, an agency already experienced in higher education marketing will spend less time getting up to speed and more time crafting a personalized strategy to meet your institution’s specific needs. 

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Prior experience in the industry is also a good indicator that the agency is well versed in the unique challenges facing higher education. Take the coronavirus pandemic, for instance. Although it’s fair to say that all industries have been significantly affected by the global health crisis in one way or another, the impacts on colleges and universities have been immense, and continue to unfold.

In cases like this, you want to work with a partner that knows what you’re going through so that they can tailor their services to provide you with as much value as possible. Look for testimonials, case studies, and examples of their work to better gauge their experience.

Does the agency value transparency?

When working with any vendor, transparency should be a key item on your list of criteria. After all, you’re hiring them to work toward your goals; it’s only natural that you should have visibility into their process and performance throughout the engagement.

Be sure to ask potential agency partners about their reporting processes and how they communicate with their clients. Should you expect the occasional phone call or email, or do they schedule frequent videoconferences? How do they measure their progress, and how do they share it with you?

Some marketing agencies practice continuous reporting of the client’s most important KPIs. At Pepperland, for example, we provide our clients with custom dashboards so that they can always keep track of performance. Additionally, we often schedule weekly, biweekly, or monthly check-in meetings with our clients to improve transparency and allow for the flow of creative ideas.

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What services does the agency offer that align with my goals?

The reality is that there are many different types of marketing agencies that you could potentially work with, depending on your institution’s specific needs. You might encounter firms that specialize in marketing functions like paid advertising, email marketing, social media, or any number of other niches. In any case, it’s important that you understand exactly what services they offer and how those services can directly support your enrollment goals. 

Naturally, answering this question will require you to do a bit of inward reflection before you begin to evaluate a vendor. What exactly do you hope to achieve by leveraging a higher ed marketing agency? What services do you plan to take advantage of? Is your hope to improve your website performance? Is content marketing your main focus? Do you need a creative new strategy to boost your enrollment numbers?

Once you’ve clearly defined what you want to get out of the partnership, you can begin looking for the right agency for the job.

Do these services fit in my budget?

We all know that marketing is a worthy investment that can have a tremendous payoff. We also all know how limited resources can be and how difficult it can be to get buy-in from those who hold the purse strings.

While it’s true that you will likely get what you pay for, many marketing agencies, including Pepperland, offer tiered packages that allow you to scale the scope of your work together to fit your budget. Additionally, Pepperland offers smaller project-based options such as the Inbound Marketing GamePlan, which can act as a strategic roadmap for the client’s internal team to execute.

You should never feel pressure to overextend your budget, but a good agency will work with you to find a solution that fits your needs.

Choosing a Partner in Growth

No matter which agency you ultimately choose to work with, one thing is certain: it should be a partnership. The questions above will help you gauge whether or not a particular agency is qualified and has your best interests at heart.

Not to toot our own horn, but we think you’d be pretty pleased with our answers to the above questions. Pepperland Marketing is a full-funnel inbound marketing agency that’s passionate about higher education. We’ve had great success helping colleges and universities across the country boost their enrollment, and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Get connected with a consultant to learn more about how we can help you hit your enrollment goals.

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