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Omnichannel Marketing 101


If something isn’t online, does it even exist? We jest, and yet, without a strong online brand presence, many prospective students and their families really won’t know you exist. Because let's face it, prospective students today are basically born with smartphones in hand and earbuds on. If something isn’t online, it’s next to invisible in their world. 

That’s why institutions across the board have spent the past decade+ ramping up digital marketing budgets, perfecting their Insta image, and all the rest. A recent Washington Post article claims some well-funded universities are spending upwards of $1-2 million per month on digital ad campaigns alone. (Emphasis there on "well-funded!")

While that number is not industry average, most institutions do not have a Barbie budget, that figure is still a clear indication that digital is mission critical to higher ed marketing. No surprise to you or your finance team.  

But here’s the thing. The newest crop of students and their tag-along Gen Alpha siblings are at once more immersed and less smitten with social media. It's certainly no longer novel. Social media is life as they know it and they are adept at downloading ad blockers and avoiding sales pitches. So take note. Authenticity rules, while overproduced and slick messages are generally ignored.  

Our recommendation is to keep honing your digital marketing game, with this caveat in mind: your digital approach works best in tandem with other channels. We are talking out-of-home, print, in-person, and the like. In other words, the best-bet strategy is omnichannel.

We’ll be at AIEA in DC in about 5 weeks and participating in 3 great presentations: 

  • AI for enrollment management  
  • Entrepreneurial leadership in bureaucratic environments 
  • A discussion around International Student Points of Entry and a new publication to be released later in 2024 

And of course, we will be presenting at NAFSA in New Orleans in late May. If you’d like to schedule time to chat over coffee instead of over Zoom, please be in touch (info@intead.com). 

Read on to better understand the importance of omnichannel marketing and how you can use it to engage your target audience and grow your enrollment numbers.  

Omnichannel Marketing: 101 Guide

By definition, omnichannel marketing is an approach that provides a unified experience for the audience through various channels. The focus words being ‘unified experience.’ You may also hear it referred to as a marketing ecosystem.  

It goes beyond the idea of multichannel. Omnichannel marketing aims to present the unique experience your institution has to offer and create consistent branding across all touchpoints. Both online and - surprise! - offline.  

Quick lesson: You may be familiar with the Rule of Seven, a tried-and-true concept that is now more tried than true due to the avalanche of media any one of us consumes daily. The thought was it takes 7 interactions with your brand to get someone to take the desired action. Needless to say, it now takes way more than 7 interactions to prompt a response. Some put it at 12 points of contact. 

Hence the need for more unified communication across channels. 

So, what does this look like in practice?  

Let’s say you want to promote campus tours (virtual or in person). A cohesive omnichannel approach could look something like this… 

Your website  

Unified tactic: Optimize your website and/or landing page for user experience with campus tour content that is accurate, engaging, and importantly actionable. Part of your user experience (UX) evaluation must be download speeds considering global accessibility in countries with lower bandwidth, often an overlooked error, e.g. South Korea ≠ Tanzania.

Global Digital Fun Facts: 2023 estimates put Monaco as having the fastest global download speeds at 320.08 Mbps. Singapore a close second at 295.78 Mbps. Yes, we are geeks, but think of how valuable these tidbits are when you experience the awkward pause at your next networking event!

Traditional social media  

Unified tactic: Go where your prospects are, and that’s YouTube, Instagram, TikTok. Direct your social media followers to the campus tour page for registration and more information through visually appealing, authentic content. Sure, overproduced material may be viewed, but your young users won’t connect as well. Wonky and cool drone footage has a place. Also key, avoid replicating all content from one platform to the next. Each has its own style, tone, and user experience.  


Unified tactic: You do have a chatbot, right? Make sure the bot is optimized to provide visitors the latest information on your campus tours. This is especially valuable for prospective students who are in different time zones or who have varied schedules. And if your bot is relying on gathering responses from your existing website (most do this), consider when the last time was that you updated your website content. Most institutions have a lot of outdated information out there and your bot cannot tell the difference when it formulates its responses. Uh oh!


Unified tactic: Include campus tours in your lead nurturing campaigns. Send personalized emails with information about upcoming tours and registration links. 

Printed materials  

Unified tactic: Use print materials – direct mail, university magazine, flyers – to redirect your prospects to the next touchpoint by using the campaign QR code that leads to a landing page or a WhatsApp group. Maybe that QR code is also printed on the swag you hand out (key chain, stuffed animal, coffee mug, etc.).

Over the Top Advertising  

Unified tactic: OTT advertising is a great way to engage with your audience while they’re doing something they enjoy. Meet them where they’re happily at – on Hulu, Netflix, Twitch, gaming – and let them know about your upcoming tours.   

Putting it all together

Obviously, the omnichannel strategy can be scaled to accommodate marketing goals large and small. The point is there are multiple tools at your disposal, so use them with consistent messaging and visuals. Relying on social media alone will only get you so far.  

The importance of omnichannel marketing lies in the opportunity to create a comprehensive and cohesive experience that’s better for everyone who engages with your brand at different points of their journey. The sales funnel is no longer a straight path, but a journey with multiple touchpoints. Help your prospective students connect the dots that lead them to your door.  

For a deeper dive beyond Omnichannel 101, be in touch. 

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