Do you remember the movie "When Harry met Sally?" with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal when Harry states that a man and a woman cannot be friends. Well, the relationship between admissions, marketing and IT within universities -- and in many other organizations -- feels like that.
Yet, admissions marketing depends more and more on great collaboration with IT as prospective students use more digital channels to learn about and research your programs, communicate with you via multiple digital channels and expect immediate and on demand service from you. Intensifying competition between academic institutions raises the need to reduce response time further.
Admissions, marketing and IT need to partner, otherwise you will not be competitive. Fortunately, more and more services are available on cloud-based solutions, which means that your IT department is not responsible for the maintenance, customer service or software upgrades. Also more and more marketing services do NOT require programming and IT support. Think of Facebook as a cloud-based service. You are constantly making changes, promoting, and communicating without any internal tech support.
Organizations have rules about access and data management for good reasons to protect students, staff and the entity. We are huge supporters of keeping IT focused on all the complex internal and back end systems (application system, learning management system, etc), but we encourage the marketing and admissions departments to work with more flexible cloud-based services. Let’s review a few functions:
Social media management: It's important that you are flexible and nimble. Over time you will have to get more sophisticated and smarter. Recently we reviewed a few solutions, by no means an exhaustive list. 10 Social Media Management Tools for College Admission Officers
Develop comprehensive digital marketing solutions independent from IT. At our own company, Intead, we are a client and service provider for a system called Hubspot. We support our extensive digital marketing with Hubspot's platform that integrates many critical digital marketing elements, such as the blog you are reading, landing pages, social media managment, analytics and much more.
We are strong believer in the inbound marketing concept, which means that you create valuable content for the relevant community and prospective customers. Hence we publish ebooks, blogs, and guides that will help you with your work.
Inbound Marketing Methodology
Ok, enough about us, let's get back to the relationship between admissions, marketing and IT.
One of the biggest changes during the past decade is the fact that you and I as consumers have gotten used to high quality, reliable and easy to use internet-based products from Gmail to Dropbox to the iPhone. We bring these expectations to the office. Outdated, slow, difficult to use software is not acceptable. As we all know, our prospective students have grown up with the iPhone, iPad and lots of easy to use apps. Remember they are "digital natives." Google, YouTube and Wikipedia have always been around as sources of information.
Expectations are very high to obtain information, learn about your community and academic programs and understand outcomes. And all of this has to happen immediately. Prospective students and their parents want results now. In order to fulfill these student and parent expectations, you need a well functioning relationship between IT, marketing and admissions.