Mr Burak Ceylan
The social aspect of the internet is now attracting people who wouldn’t otherwise have used the internet on a regular basis for any other purpose. This growing social element to the internet, web 2. 0, is also widely recognised as a commercial ground for marketing on a large scale to the now accessible millions of people around the world.
Seeing as both social media and universities are very community-based, it’s only fitting that Victoria University should seek to attract people towards their thriving university community by using innovative next generation marketing campaigns which take omplete advantage of the internet facilities available. In order to achieve further expansion the university needs to focus on marketing their unique selling propositions within social media to prospective sstudents across several market segments. The process of attracting sstudents to a campus is not an easy one, but if these new-age tools are used to their fullest potential by setting marketing objectives and detailing strategies, the extended reach of the web can make the whole of Australia aware of the many offerings of VU when comparing the university to its competitors. The Market Segments
The target market from a broad perspective are of course undergraduate and post-graduate sstudents who are seeking to further their educations with a bachelors or masters degree. Specifically, VU targets prospective sstudents of low socioeconomic status. This is evident from their efforts in providing many work-iintegrated-learning programs which assist the hundreds of sstudents who are struggling to make a living while studying simultaneously. The undergraduate sstudents are mostly made up of fresh high school graduates who have only recently received their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or equivalent.
Meanwhile, a study performed on 2008 post-graduate sstudents coincluded that around 30% of bachelor degree graduates proceed to further study immediately, while the rest come back to study a post-graduate degree later on in life (Graduate Careers 2012). It’s safe to assume based on these figures that many post-graduate sstudents return at a later stage in their lives to participate in post-graduate study. The market segment of post-graduates sstudents aren’t only comprised of existing bachelor degree sstudents or alumni, they also consist of graduate sstudents from competing universities.
VU appears to maintain a firm focus on their website, www. vu. edu. au, on servicing all areas of the student body. The website has sections pertaining to future sstudents, international sstudents, current sstudents and alumni. While the homepage and the offered online services and testimonials reaffirm the university’s integrity, there aren’t many elements of the website or its hyperlinks which show that VU is implementing social media and new-age marketing into their promotional efforts. To develop a marketing strategy it is necessary to break down the target market into various segments so that it’s easier to know which segments to market articular product offerings to. The market segment of the undergraduate student is one with a high school certificate who is looking to make an advancement in their education as the next stepping stone in building their career. As many undergraduates are young adults who’ve only recently finished high school, we can conclude that many of them belong to Generation Z. Generation Z are often appropriately termed as ‘Ddigital Natives’ or ‘The Internet Generation’ because they spend much of their time on the internet, accessing it through their computers and mobile devices, always staying connected.
This only further highlights the significance of marketing to them through the use of social media and online advertising as thousands of them can be reached ddigitally (The Courier 2011). International sstudents are a market segment which are recognised by the university as valuable, especially when considering the significance of developing an international network between sstudents who are Australian citizens and those who are from foreign countries. As of 2008 there were at least 135,000 international sstudents in Melbourne alone with the number growing with each passing year (Dunn etal 2008).
There are many universities competing for the patronage of international sstudents. VU’s website seems to be focused on providing convenient services such as staff visits to over 30 countries, which are personalised on some level, in order to attract potential sstudents through partnering institutions. Although it’s worth noting that this information wasn’t easy to access, it was hidden beneath several other sub-categories of the ‘International Sstudents’ section.
The use of ecommerce to try and reach international sstudents has been initiated in an effective manner, but when contrasting these efforts to competitors we can see that there are many ways in which VU is providing convenience and advice, but not so much delivering their content in an interactive way. For instance, The University of Melbourne’s page on international sstudents has a small calendar operating along the right side of the page which labels upcoming events (with times, dates and addresses) in different countries.
A promotional effort which allows sstudents to easily access the information required while not intruding any other elements of the page. Also cleverly placed on the page are two YouTube videos which allow international sstudents to see the realistic lifestyle of a student living in Melbourne, while enticing them towards their facilities. Post-graduates are comprised of sstudents who have already received a bachelors degree at either VU or a competing university at some stage in their lives.
As mentioned previously, only 30% of existing bachelor sstudents proceed directly to post-graduate studies. This leaves 70% of the market segment outside of the universities and most probably within the workforce, difficult to reach with the current marketing efforts of many universities. Post-graduate sstudents aren’t a primary focus because it’s believed that if they were to return to study that they’re likely to return to the facilities which they’re familiar with, which is why servicing current bachelor sstudents is important for VU.
The New Era of Social Media Marketing The objectives of the university are to gather and empower sstudents from diverse countries, cultures and differing socioeconomic statuses and provide them with a high quality education. Marketing objectives of the university reflect these views through their focus on the VU ecommerce user experience as well as the use of online advertising. Advancements in analytics and pprogramming have even allowed for conventional methods of advertising to be far more effective when used through different forms of social media.
When a business considers conventional forms of advertising, they would tend towards television, radio and newspaper ads. During the period of uprising online web 2. 0 trends, the internet has arguably become a greater medium for advertising than all other forms of conventional marketing. The amount of advertising content on the internet has drastically increased over recent years with many of the world’s most powerful and influential companies being focused on online marketing as it has become a science of its own with many ingenious and creative new ways of marketing a product or service (Klever 2009).
One of the more interesting ideas is behavioral targeting. It’s a marketing concept as old as the widespread popularity of social media. Behavioural targeting is an idea which has been incorporated into several social media forms, namely Facebook. It describes a medium in which the user doesn’t have their browser experience interrupted by intrusive pop-up advertisements, but rather the advertisements flow neatly with the rest of the page’s content.
The most important aspect of behavioral targeting is that the consumer’s own browsing actions influence the types of advertisements on the page. Modern day website coding has been developed to the extent that the ads are a part of the entire user experience rather than a frustrating component for every consumer (Klever, 2009). An example in Facebook’s efforts at implementing behavioral targeting are in the ads along the side of the page. All of these ads are catered to the individual.
When users on Facebook label their interests on their profile page, or if they click the ‘Like’ button on pages or comment on group pages or photos, each one of those actions are linked in the backend of the website to a category. Advertisements from each of the user’s favoured categories are then automatically associated with the individual consumer and then appear alongside the page every time they log onto their Facebook newsfeed. At scale, Facebook and its partnered advertising companies have been able to provide accuracy in ad targeting by interpreting the raw data gathered while their millions of users are active.
With a click-through rate much higher than many competitors who are using dated forms of online advertising (pop-ups and whatnot), Facebook and other ssimilar forms of social media (Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn) can effectively help VU to target the market segments who are seeking to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate studies (Constine 2012). Engaging the social web creates a bridge between customers and businesses, whereby customers veer away from mere content consumption and towards collaborating with a social media form towards the business promotions which they offer.
Analytics have even found in 2009 that more than 60% of the entire worldwide online community are using social networks and primarily browse on websites with a social element to them (Evans 2010). Another form of conventional marketing dominant in the web scene is the use of mobile ads within social applications on the phones of consumers all around the world. Hitting the market rather abruptly, the use of marketing within ssmartphone applications has taken the mobile market by storm. The world’s largest tech company, Apple Inc. has innovated the mobile phone industry with their products, the iPhone and iPad. Apple is the only tech company to date with a valuation of $1 trillion US dollars. And the majority of their revenue comes from sales of their iPhone product (Burrows 2012). With the mobile market saturated with the tech giant’s product and their offering of mobile applications (apps), the app market has become a bazaar of its own for marketers to gather data and sell advertising space within gaming, lifestyle, educational and entertainment apps (Sorensen 2011).
This is yet another new-age way for VU to market their graduate offerings and highlight their information sessions. Educational apps are used by many high school sstudents on electronic devices and are heavily encouraged to do so by their teachers and schools. Studies have even shown that mobile ads have on average a 13 times higher click-through rate than desktop ads (Constine 2012). Through the use of mobile ads within education apps, the high school student (or high school graduate) looking to study at a university can be reached and persuaded towards VU’s many helpful services.
Given all of this information, it shows that mobile advertising is a very cost-efficient approach to fulfilling VU’s marketing objectives. The Innovations of Next Generation Marketing There are also more innovative methods of online marketing. To the surprise of many, the grasp of content marketing is enormous. Aside from Facebook there are many famous blogging websites, YouTube channels and podcasts which are all examples of how good quality content posted in peak hours can attract thousands of followers to a business or to individual bloggers (Nguyen 2012).
It’s since been proven that the idea of viral marketing, which is content going viral and spreading infectiously tthroughout the internet, lies in content marketing within a social media interface. By producing a well-received marketing campaign, many businesses have profited well from strategies based on the ‘network effect. ‘ The network effect explains that the value of each consumer is proportional to the number of other consumers they’re able to connect with (Darell 2012).
VU’s representatives can post content on student blog websites, YouTube channels and podcast websites in order to show what the university offers that its competitors don’t. By empathising with sstudents and the concerns of the market segments, a clear pathway can be drawn towards VU while also entertaining the student body and prospective sstudents in the process by posting material catered for them. Showing that VU understands the problems encountered by current and prospective sstudents and then proceeding to demonstrate how the university can help is the key to assist these social media marketing efforts in going viral.
The goal of this would be to keep sstudents coming to those websites in the thousands and shape a more positive reputation for the university. Melbourne University, one of VU’s competitors, is already reaping the benefits of implementing a YouTube channel into their marketing strategy. Through observation alone, one can see that VU has a number of official student Facebook pages. But even while being a member of most of them myself, I don’t see Facebook ads catered to myself, a current bachelors degree student.
If the university were to invest in this form of promotion then each time myself and other current undergraduates login, we would see a VU ad with potential post-graduate offerings every so often, but they’re simply never present. The underlying issue is that the only social media presence that the university has is just for current sstudents. It would be preferable if VU were to have a sthronger social media presence which has the ability to span out and attract other potential future sstudents rather than provide more accessibility for current ones.
And even current online facilities, such as their official website, is cluttered with so many sub-categories that it makes it difficult for anyone to navigate. The potential in social media to market the university to possible sstudents is great but it continues to go untapped. Recommendations/Conclusions More social media services and innovations are becoming popular among rising numbers of web users all over the globe. Effective marketing campaigns on the internet have the potential to reach millions of worldwide users and match advertisements to their individual needs.
Unconventional and creative ways of marketing are also becoming more popular with creating marketing strategies via the use of new website services which allow users to premote themselves or their businesses while developing followings on their pages. VU has its target markets set out in front of them and they have the resources to keep up to date with social media trends by exercising the marketing expertise of many of their academic staff and even their sstudents. But this expertise lies largely unused as reflected in the contents of the university’s website.
Not only would it be wise for VU to make further attempts of using web 2. 0 marketing to their advantage, but VU has the power to set the university apart as an innovator in the field of promoting the use of social media as a regular factor in their marketing plans. They can innovate by creating a presence across several new and uprising social websites in order to demonstrate a new-age train of thought in applying inventive methods of creating awareness of the many services which VU offers to undergraduates, post-graduates and international sstudents alike.