Forecasting 2016 for Higher Education

By Frank HealyJanuary 5, 2016

With the New Year finally upon us, it is time to consider what new trends lie ahead in 2016 for higher education marketing. Many schools are starting to look into what they can expect from government rulings, while their marketing partners have begun incorporating new and innovative strategies to increase both lead quality and transparency. From developments in technology to changes in marketing tactics, the following five trends will surely be a topic of conversation in the industry this year.

Technology-Based Learning
Schools will benefit from incorporating new technical innovations as a tool for enhancing teaching and learning methodologies. In 2016, we will continue to see student outcomes as a priority and many institutions will adopt new adaptive learning technologies to increase individualized learning and student success. Schools will offer additional online classes and degree programs for an increasing amount of students who need flexibility in their schedules. Technology will be at the forefront of education, with wearable tech and augmented learning becoming more common throughout schools. Teachers will also begin to work toward connecting students with new and innovative devices, such as Google Glass and 3D printers.  

Big Data
Education institutions and marketers will increasingly use big data to understand the student lifecycle and trends. Schools and partners will continue to focus on obtaining job placement and loan repayment data to measure success and predict future success of students. Big data has changed the way marketers learn and measure success in the consumer lifecycle, and this year the industry will see a push to focus on retention of students. Companies will approach retention as a priority when analyzing data and success metrics to ensure the needs of students are met. This year will also surely see many acquisitions between leading institutions and forward thinking businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to understand how to make the most out of data and resources.

Legislation
The future of higher education currently relies heavily on government regulations. The higher education landscape is constantly transforming and 2016 will undoubtedly bring new noteworthy rulings for education. For example, the U.S. Department of Education recently passed new legislation that will be effective July 2016, titled Program Integrity and Improvement. This ruling includes provisions allowing students to use Title IV aid for retaking coursework in some circumstances and streamlining clock-to-credit-hour conversions. Similar to years past, we expect these regulatory changes to push schools and marketers toward improving the higher education industry overall.

Digital Media
Recently, digital media effectiveness has been a primary topic of conversation. To be more efficient at digital media, companies need to be clear on success metrics. One key theme that will emerge in 2016 is interactive media, as consumers increasingly expect marketing to be tailored toward their interests and actions. Many companies will reprioritize marketing tactics to provide users with what they want: content-rich interactive sites. The amount of consumers using mobile devices to research education institutions will continue to rise, meaning that schools and marketers will need to ensure that their websites and marketing content is tailored to meet the needs of the mobile user.

Web Content
Crafting and producing high-quality content will continue to be a priority throughout 2016. Immediacy will be a defining factor that sets apart schools and marketers from competitors, as prospects expect to receive information instantly. Interactive responsive design along with complementary technology is vital to 2016 web design. Visual content will increase in popularity as prospects continue to prefer videos and infographics to articles and blog posts. Provide value to prospects by creating visual content that fully illustrates your company’s value propositions.

This New Year provides the perfect opportunity to test new ideas and make improvements within your organization. Continue to thoroughly evaluate and consider these trends and more while preparing your company for changes and developments to come in 2016. 

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