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What Disruptive Marketing in Higher Education Should Actually Look Like
Enrollify Autotranscript 166
[00:00:00] Zach: All right, folks, we are live. We are live from Direct Developments or DD Agency's DevDays. Tony, welcome to the podcast. What is DevDays?
[00:00:56] Tony: DevDays is my favorite part of the year where we get our [00:01:00] entire company together. And we stay no to work. We don't do any work. We don't, we put our clients on hold. We're not doing stuff for the business externally.
[00:01:10] We are pausing. It's like a company retreat, but we come to develop ourselves. So we call it dev days off of, you know, personal and professional development. And it's basically a highly interactive, pretty jam packed time where we pull away from work and we focus on each other. And just get to kind of rebuild our relationships, learn new things, challenge ourselves.
[00:01:32] Essentially sharpening our swords so we can come back and do better work.
[00:01:36] Zach: I love it. And the theme, my understanding is for this dev days is disruptors in the district. So we are just outside of Washington, DC proper in a fun little place called the mosaic district. We are recording live. So we actually have a live audience.
[00:01:49] Say hi live audience. Thank you DD HQ, DD HQ, DD's new HQ. Well, we have a lot to talk about today. So the whole theme of this. [00:02:00] A few days is around disruption and marketing as an industry is constantly, it seems going through disruptions, Tony, I thought it'd be fun to hear just from your perspective over the last like five years, not 10, not 15, not 20, but just over the last five years.
[00:02:16] Like, what do you think have been one or two of the most significant disruptions and how has the DD agency team had to adapt to those disruptions?
[00:02:27] Tony: Yeah. So, I mean, just within the last five years. You know, I think in the marketing world, one of the biggest disruptions has been the pandemic and how it changed how people behaved and interacted with stuff and quickly adopted things that probably would have taken a few more years, frankly, to happen and just had some really weird things that happened.
[00:02:50] For instance, like QR codes are now normal and came back. And I remember years ago when people were like, man, QR codes are dying. And they're really, they never really pulled off here. That's just [00:03:00] one small example, and I'm not, I don't think QR codes were a disruption, but just as an example of everything got thrown off by the pandemic.
[00:03:07] And so why, what the marketing world had to do is how is that changing how people are consuming information? And acting on things and searching for things and solving their
[00:03:20] Zach: problems. So I know that DD agency is sort of known as like the SEO people, right? Like when you think about higher ed agencies, DD agency is known as helping schools, particularly the colleges and universities think through their organic strategies, right?
[00:03:34] So there are lots of agencies for years that have been, you figured out how to sort of like nail, like the paid search game and. Well, DD agency absolutely does page search. I do think you guys have a reputation for being the organic guys and gals. Right. So how have you seen SEO strategies evolve over the last few years?
[00:03:53] Tony: Yeah, I mean, four or five years ago, I remember when we were really pushing SEO more against all these other. [00:04:00] Kind of more traditional marketing tactics. And one of the biggest objections we experienced a few years ago, and we still experience this today with new schools we're working with, getting on, you know, where do they get started and how do they move forward?
[00:04:13] The SEO, one of the big objections is, Hey, that's great. How long is this going to take? Yeah, this is going to take a while. And so one of our barriers was like, we knew we could move the needle to SEO, but five years ago it took like. A couple of years to really move the needle and a ton of work, a lot of content, we're happy to do it.
[00:04:31] It's what we do. You know, we create content for breakfast and eat it. And that's what we do. We bring it to our schools and clients, but that was hard. We were like, you know, you got to play this longterm game plan. Now those investments in those decisions for the schools that were brave enough to invest in that along with other things will sense a pandemic.
[00:04:50] There are so many schools today that are experiencing completely unsustainable kind of methods with paid and those Investments they made years ago on [00:05:00] organic are paying dividends today. Yeah, and so the disruption today is Exponentially more than what it was three and four years ago. And Here's the big difference We don't need two years anymore now With what we've learned and where we've gained with SEO, we're making SEO changes within two or three months that are significant at school.
[00:05:22] So schools that are not on the first page of Google, we're telling them how to optimize a page. They're getting on the first page approval for words they weren't on the first page of Google before. Quickly. Yeah, so it's no longer like now, like this whole like SEO is a long term play. I'm like pushing back on that now.
[00:05:38] We don't have to say that anymore because that's not true. Yeah. And we have the data to prove it. So it is highly disruptive. And again, SEO is not the, the, the silver bullet, but you need a diversified marketing portfolio. If you're enrolled in marketing, you know, there's a place for all the different tactics and you need to find your right set of tactics, but.
[00:05:55] I would argue today for higher ed SEO is more [00:06:00] important than ever. Schools can't, it's not a luxury that schools can choose to jump into. They have to focus on it because most of them actually give no other option. They can't afford the other options. Guess how expensive it is unpaid. Now the price has only gone up and so it's become more disruptive because of pandemic and because.
[00:06:16] SEO has just come a long way for higher ed, I would say it's at like a peak season right now. Why do you
[00:06:21] Zach: think it's easier to rank quicker for terms and topics today than it was even just a few years ago? Is it just that it's easier to create and publish more content or like what do you think some of those factors are?
[00:06:33] Tony: Well, I think for higher ed specifically, higher ed is, has always stood on the authority of the domain of the institution. So you're already operating as a school that has a site. With some amount of domain authority, it's very different than B2B or B2C or small business SEO or local SEO only where you have, you know, a small website with 30 pages.
[00:06:55] And, but we had that before what's different is that I think schools have been investing in [00:07:00] cleaning up their websites and we've been waiting for them to kind of catch up. So I'd say where we are today with higher ed is typically four to five years behind cutting edge for profit marketing. So you look at like ESPN or Coca Cola or big brands that have millions of dollars, right?
[00:07:15] They're on bleeding, cutting edge, higher ed's typically behind that coming in. So we're experiencing them finally kind of cleaning up their websites, projects that started five years ago. And so again, there's still a lot of schools and really bad websites out there. I'm gonna be honest, but the number is less.
[00:07:31] And so some of them have cleaner websites so that when they implement the SEO changes, we tell them, holy crap, they actually work because their website isn't a mess. And they have way less technical errors and stuff like that. So it all kind of works together. I also think search has changed where you also have the audience that is just not going to click a lot of the traditional ads.
[00:07:52] So I think the other reason is there's just been a lot of bad paid ads by schools. Yeah. Look at higher ed ads. They look pretty bad and pretty, pretty [00:08:00] generic. Yeah. And so the average prospect today. It's less apt to click that as looking for something a little bit more authentic and they want organic results and so there's just a, I think, a, a trend in the audience.
[00:08:12] I'm speaking very generally that they're trusting that more
[00:08:15] Zach: today. Yeah. I was, I was recently at Element 451, which is a, a hired software company in the space. They throw an event every year. This event is called the Engage Summit, and I spoke at that a few weeks ago. And the topic that we spoke on was It's higher ed marketing, excuse me, content marketing 3.
[00:08:34] 0 and it's this whole like notion. I basically made this argument to the audience that I think we're in like the third era of content marketing and I, this was just, you know, Zach's scrappy definition, but I described kind of like V1, like 1. 0 being this notion that. You could create a blog, you could post content and you know, people could find that content and consume that content.
[00:08:55] And it was free, right? You could use free tools like blogger. Right. And that was like the first [00:09:00] era of content marketing. And then the second era was when everyone realized like, Oh wow. Geez, like this is a sales and marketing play, right? It's not just content for the sake of content. You can create content, you can publish content, and you can make money off of that content.
[00:09:12] You can generate leads off of that content. That's like, you know, era 2. 0. And then I think we're where we're at right now. In content marketing 3. 0, right? Is this understanding that there's so much content, there's a proliferation of it. Everyone understands, everyone understands inbound. Everyone understands that content is really kind of a conversion asset.
[00:09:31] But I'd be curious from your perspective, like what are the things that people should be doing? The content assets people should be creating in an era where we're inundated with content. There's way too much of it. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT make it easier than ever before to create loads and loads and loads of content.
[00:09:50] Like, what are the content topics, not even topics, what are the content formats? And, and when you, when you kind of step back and you think about like where we're at right now, where do you think people should be investing their [00:10:00] time from a content creation
[00:10:01] Tony: standpoint? Yeah, I think that's a really good question.
[00:10:03] I love the topic of your entire presentation you did recently and wanted to ask you all about that because I think you're really, you're really pushing into the frontier areas. Of disruption, like what's on net, what's next when it comes to disruption in marketing and in higher ed in particular, I think higher ed really has to care a lot now about that question just because of kind of the reckoning that's been coming to higher ed and that leads towards what contents really working.
[00:10:32] I love that question because I definitely am seeing content change. And I think some of the things that we're doing today, I think there's a, the shelf life is maybe a couple more years and that's about it. And content is ripe for more new and next. And so the first place I go to is how can you make content that's shorter and more dynamic?
[00:10:52] So, you know, we all, it's not a secret, the shorter time to attention, but that's at first glance, but then [00:11:00] once you get me. The time people are willing to spend when they like it is actually quite high. And so, but what keeps you there is the dynamic ness of it, and it's scratching an itch or appealing to, like, a passion.
[00:11:14] And so, I don't, I do think there's some universal characteristics of content that will still be true. It still has to appeal to pain and passion. It's still gotta be quality. You're still in an era of quality over quantity. So, but the type of content we're doing needs to be more dynamic. So like even blog, I'll take blogging again, eight years ago, like the classic blog HubSpot was talking about was like a 300 to 500 word blog posts.
[00:11:38] And then remember when that evolved to like the 800 to 1250 word. And we talked about deep tactical posts of 2000 words. Well, I'd say blogging today looks like wider range and more dynamic. It's not just words, it's words with images. It's with built in video. You're blogging, but it's not a web log. It's not just a, an article with paragraphs.
[00:11:57] It's got a lot more dynamic content in [00:12:00] there. It's more of a how to or an instructional or it's a record. It's a podcast that's been converted or a deck that's been converted. So we're getting wider and what we would publish there. And it's just a place to publish it. It doesn't look like you're the old blocks of your, but I'd say even beyond that, I just think content moving to more dynamic, like I would be investing in how you can make video quick and easy.
[00:12:22] And. Short form video. Like we do video production, um, as part of GD studio, which is, you know, part of our company is one of the divisions that does that. And we've really struggled with like, we can see we do incredible video and yet just getting one video asset is like, that's it schools want like 19 little video things, 15 seconds, but they want to pay for one.
[00:12:44] Right. So it's like, how do we make more? So we're like, we are looking at like, how do we take the raw video and the B raw and I. And the student interviews and like, how can we make more little pieces, little assets because that's what the market is [00:13:00] demanding and we don't need the five minute, highly polished professional video that says your school's amazing.
[00:13:07] Nobody wants that, but they want to know how that student over there, like they want them to walk them through the classroom for 15 seconds and that needs to be on Instagram. So it just. Think differently about the content. I think we are moving more towards ungated content, even though I'm a huge fan of gated content and it still works really well, but I do know that what's frontier more content that you can just get to that gets you on the domain.
[00:13:32] Yeah. Because I think what's coming next is schools owning their own audience. Yeah. You're going to have to prove that you have me. And I'm in your grid and once I'm in your grid, you own me. Then you have the right to communicate with me, particularly as like Google drops, it's cookie and all that stuff.
[00:13:48] Like major changes are coming to marketing and advertising. Organizations have to own their own audience.
[00:13:56] Zach: All right. We're going to play a game guys. Okay. So first and foremost, [00:14:00] get a pen, get a paper, pull out your notes app on your phone, whatever it might be. Okay. Got it? Great. Alright, what keywords does your website currently rank for?
[00:14:10] Take a couple seconds. Alright, 1, 2, 3, 4. I gave you a few, not just a couple. What doesn't it rank for that you think it should rank for? Okay, 1, 2, 3, 4. Now, what are a few keyword opportunities that you could be winning on if you just simply tweaked some of your existing website copy? Got it. Okay. How'd you do?
[00:14:33] Not so hot. Not sure what you can, what you're currently ranking for or not sure what you could be ranking for. Well, that's okay because our friends at DD agency want to help you answer all of these questions. DD agency is a higher ed specific marketing technology agency that has conducted countless SEO audits for colleges and universities across the country.
[00:14:53] In these audits, they detail where you currently rank. What you could be ranking for, exactly how copy should be tweaked on [00:15:00] website pages and so much more. If this sounds like something that you could benefit from, give the guys a DD agency a pinging, and be sure to mention that Enroll fify sent you to claim a 10% discount on any of their SS e o offerings.
[00:15:14] So head on over to enroll fi.org/dda s e o, that's d a as in DD agency, s e o, or simply follow the link in the show notes below. That will guarantee you get a 10 percent discount off of your audit. All right. Head on over to enrollify. org slash D D A S E O, or simply Google DD agency, find DD agency's website, and be sure to mention that you heard about them through enrollify when you request your audit.
[00:15:40] All right, folks, back to the show. I love what you said about short form content being necessary to sort of like attract initial attention, but that longer form content is an incredibly important play to retain. That attention right and it's funny. I think schools talk about this a lot is like the attention span You've heard everyone's heard the [00:16:00] stat about like humans have shorter attention spans than like a goldfish, right?
[00:16:03] And I think that Gen Z in particular has been categorized as like they they won't pay attention to anything longer than like three seconds Right and yet my younger siblings many of whom fall into that a generational cohort They'll binge watch a Netflix series in a night, they'll spend 8 hours, 10 hours watching a whole series.
[00:16:22] So like the fact, the notion that they don't have attention span is just, is just wrong quite frankly. It's just flawed. It's just that most content isn't designed in a way. That that keep them there to keep them there, right? And it's, it's, it's crappy content. And so it's, it's, it'll be interesting to see as, as schools move into this era of wanting to really own their audiences and own information, if there's equal attention paid to content retention strategies, like how do you retain the attention you've already earned?
[00:16:51] As opposed to just acquiring new attention and it'll be interesting to see sort of like what formats work best for, for that. And another thing too is like, you know, my [00:17:00] brother who's 18 years old, I mean, he listens to Joe Rogan's podcasts pretty religiously and some of those podcasts are over three hours long, right?
[00:17:07] So like, again, people are willing to pay attention to long form content if the content is interesting. When
[00:17:11] Tony: you capture their interest. Yeah. And when, when it, when it's, when it's past that, now you're in another stage though. And so like, here's, here's my favorite unsung metric. You read it. This is, this is the unsung hero, total nerd marketing metric that I don't think gets enough attention, but I think will be more important over the next three to five years time on page.
[00:17:34] Yeah. I actually think, I know Google and search and SEO is going to, it's definitely going to evolve, but one powerful metric that the algorithm will always take into account is. Prove to me that you're getting eyeballs stay on your pages. You got something of value. Yeah So we really look a lot like we got schools who we've got like prospect of students six minutes time on page Pillar pages could be [00:18:00] video could be a survey or a quiz we put out could be a blog article, right?
[00:18:04] We're getting six minutes time on page. Yeah That is way higher than average.
[00:18:09] Zach: Well, it's one of the only ways to sort of assess quality of content, right? Like in a somewhat objective
[00:18:14] Tony: way. Right. So one way to answer your question is like, rather than say the answer to the content you got to make is what do you have that might keep someone there for five minutes?
[00:18:23] Yeah. And if your answer to that is crap, we got nothing. Then I think the answer for you is like, great. So you need to make it, but you may actually have like, and if you do have it, then the next question is like, where is it? Yeah. And is it really easily accessible and do like 20 different places link to it?
[00:18:43] And if not, if you don't have 20 places linking to it, you're an idiot. Like, go put it out there. What's going to keep me for five minutes? I mean, it's a hard question to answer for many schools.
[00:18:53] Zach: That was a good one. Yeah, yeah. I want to shift a little bit and talk about the team. So you lead a team of highly [00:19:00] talented, very creative individuals.
[00:19:03] From your perspective, As the head of this company, like, what, what are you sitting here in this room? Many of them are here right now. Uh, but as the leader of this company, like when you think about the future and you think about not, not longterm, but like short term, like the next two, three years, what skillsets do you think that today's marketers need to acquire?
[00:19:24] And or double down on, maybe they have some of it already, but they need to, you know, refine the skill. Like what are you looking for? Like how are you, what would get you excited if a team member were to come to you and say, Hey, I want to learn more about X or I really want to dive into Y. What is that X or that Y that would, that would excite you that you think aligns with where marketing is going?
[00:19:46] Tony: Yeah. It's funny you ask that, like literally in this room that we're in, I know you guys hearing us on this podcast, can't see us, but literally. The last conversation that happened in this room in the last hour is the perfect example of that. Okay. So, [00:20:00] we just had a whole session on disruptive AI technology and how we can use it in reporting.
[00:20:07] So, we're huge on ROI reporting, multi, multi, full funnel attribution reporting, and we're, like, pushing the envelope on how we can use AI tools. To get us quicker to data that takes longer to get the insights on and reporting. And so a great example of that is I'd say, I'd be looking for a team member who says, Hey, I just figured out how to take something that normally takes our reporting time.
[00:20:36] It normally takes us three to four hours by using this AI tool and importing tool lists into it. I've been able to get the same thing in 30 minutes. Now. That sounds great. It took me four, four or six hours of fooling around to get it to that. Sure. To replicate this across the team. I think we can replicate this, but, and like, this is a conversation like Johanna and I just had in the other room.
[00:20:58] It was like, Oh my [00:21:00] gosh. So then what hit her is we're going to have to change the way we do certain things. But if we change the way we do naming conventions, this could be replicated across the board. Yeah. And all the HubSpot accounts and all the schools we work with. And we just made this kind of change that I'm interested in people who see the value in putting in first the crazy amount of time it takes to burn just to figure it out, but then replicate it into a way that becomes sustainable because to cut down the time and get better data insights, time cuts down by a quarter, but you get more and you can scale that.
[00:21:37] That's the game changer. Yeah, that's what we have to do. In the marketing world. Yeah. When
[00:21:42] Zach: I, when I think about sort of like the history, even just like the short term history of, of marketing, it feels like there, there are these like ebbs and flows of like high, high periods of time where like. There's a lot of creation, right?
[00:21:55] You spend a ton of time creating content. Anyone that's working on a marketing campaign understands that [00:22:00] the first thing that you do after you develop the strategy is you get to work and you create a lot of assets, right? And I wonder if we're now sort of like entering I don't know how long this season will be but where the best marketers are actually going to be optimizers, right?
[00:22:14] It's like we're going to We're going to take a break from, not that we're going to turn it off and not be creators at all, but like, I wonder if we'll take a little bit of a, we'll spend more time and energy focused on optimization, more
[00:22:23] Tony: selective, we're being more selective as creators
[00:22:27] Zach: simply because.
[00:22:29] Uh, you could be out created right with, with a lot of these tools. Right. And a lot of people have way more time to spend creating content than you'll ever have. And so it's interesting to think about the future of the marketer being more of an optimizer, at least for this period of time. Yeah.
[00:22:45] Tony: I think there's a lot of truth to that.
[00:22:47] And I think the skills you need to be more of an optimizer means you have to be able to look at things and see gaps. And see what they could be with those tweaks. Yeah. And so you have to be able to look at things [00:23:00] and not just see that they are broken or like this isn't going to work or this is a mess.
[00:23:04] Like I think in higher ed this often happens is like, Oh, we hate our website. You know, and in higher ed it's easy to blame the other department, you know, and you're just kind of waiting five years to get a better website. Do you really need a better website that looks prettier? Or like, how can you take it from what it is and make it, make the tweaks that make it a little bit better?
[00:23:20] Yeah. In many ways I do think it takes eyes that see what things could be with the right optimizations and that is sometimes time better spent than reinventing the wheel and building from scratch.
[00:23:32] Zach: I want to ask you a little bit about influencer marketing because Influencer marketing across every industry right now is, is exploding, right?
[00:23:40] I feel like if anyone has been anytime on LinkedIn, it seems like everyone on LinkedIn is trying to build a personal brand. Everyone on LinkedIn is trying to, you know, become an influencer in their respective domain. There's like a formula to like these posts are on Twitter. If you're on Twitter, there's a formula to how people write threads.
[00:23:54] And I've been thinking a lot about influencer marketing. And what's funny is that higher ed has access to a [00:24:00] pool of influencers that might be unmatched to any other industry. Other industries have to go and they have to find people with million, you know, plus followers on Instagram, many of whom are just like, you know, pretty young women and hire them to promote their products and services.
[00:24:14] Right. Whereas like higher ed literally has like influencers in the truest of sense in their backyard, right. With their faculty and faculty, the professors, I'd be curious to hear if you have any thoughts or ideas on. What is influencer marketing within the context of leveraging faculty look like over the next few years?
[00:24:32] Tony: I think that's a big challenge, to be honest, for schools, and I think it could make or break a lot of them because yes, I totally agree that the faculty do have the ability. They've got the knowledge, but There are a bunch of faculty that aren't ready to do that. Like, they don't know how to communicate.
[00:24:50] So it's not enough to have the knowledge. Yeah, a lot of it is in the delivery. Yeah, sure. And so you could be the smartest person in the room, but if you can't communicate it a well to a wide group of [00:25:00] people, it's not going to be received. Yeah. And so I think you have the challenge where a lot of the faculty are, they don't have the skills to proliferate and get the message out and communicate it in ways that.
[00:25:13] Non academics or students, right? Who don't know this stuff already, but it might be interested in those areas. How do they become good influencers? I think some are in the schools that can get faculty to really change the way they think about what they're doing of you're not just training the students in front of you from the new class that gets brought in rather you're representing the uniqueness of, of your discipline and your craft and how can you, like, share bits of that.
[00:25:43] It's not the whole course. It's not the whole degree. It's not the whole discipline. Yeah. It's not even actually about expertise. Yeah. It's more about experimentation. It's more about storytelling. It's more about sharing the craft and leaking bits of it and those parts attracting people. So I think [00:26:00] schools that can get their faculty to be more outward facing things.
[00:26:03] I mean, basic things like having social media profiles and Regularly publishing content and that content being dynamic and like maybe even unpolished video and writing content and being more, more on the front, the schools that can help them do that would be such an influence. I do think the other influential area though isn't necessarily going to be faculty.
[00:26:25] It's, it's actually in the corporate world. It's actually in the employer world. It's in all the companies who hire all these people with degrees. So universities. Good relationships with the companies in the workforce and the nonprofits, but they could do to lever better in leveraging those building more partnerships.
[00:26:45] I'm hearing more schools looking at like, yes, Hey, we want more leads. We want more prospects, but how can we get in front of the people who would influence those prospects? They're talking about getting with the employers or getting with the people who. Yeah. One school that we work [00:27:00] with specializes in sustainability master's programs, and they're building partnerships with undergrad institutions that have sustainable sustainability departments and don't have conflicting graduate degrees.
[00:27:13] And so that's a great example of those kind of leveraging the partnerships. So they're communicating. And now we're making content not for the prospective student. We're making content for the influencer who's going to tell the students about those programs.
[00:27:25] Zach: Yeah, yeah, that's super, super interesting from, from a agency perspective too.
[00:27:30] It seems like there there's potentially like a whole like new service line here. Like, like there are like ghost writing agencies are not necessarily new, but they I feel like have come back a little bit and you've got these. Teams of people that are actually hired to like write content to help individual leaders who don't CEOs.
[00:27:46] You don't have the time to write content for them. Right. I don't know what you're talking about. This is like, this is like a big thing right now. And, and I just wonder if like, there's maybe an opportunity for a higher ed agency, like DD agency to potentially offer ghost writing content creation [00:28:00] services of which y'all do for like the marketing department or the admissions team, but for faculty and
[00:28:06] Tony: to like proliferate their brands and their stuff.
[00:28:09] Yes. I mean, we, we'd be very interested in doing more of that again. I think the challenge will also be, um, getting that to be approved. Can sometimes be a challenge. Speaking for myself, I have, you know, I have had various team members over the years help publish stuff under my own profile and my name. And then when I come and I see it, you know, I'm super picky on like on and I end up rewriting it, you know, but so it's easier said than done to be honest, because I think when you have people with years of experience, it's really hard to ghost right at that level sometimes.
[00:28:44] And so. So I think the faculty really need to be okay with, Hey guys, this is not going in publishing in some higher ed journal. It's not a research proposal. This is not academic Ph. D. level work. This is for the masses. It's promotional [00:29:00] marketing content. Promotional marketing content at the end of the day.
[00:29:02] And if they can be okay with that, it's a great idea.
[00:29:04] Zach: Yeah. In this same vein, what are some like services or opportunities that you see for agencies in this space? So maybe this is something that you're incubating at UD Agency. Maybe this is something that would fit well with the other services that UD Agency already offers.
[00:29:19] Or maybe, maybe it's something that's not a great fit for UD Agency, but something that, a gap that you see in the market. Like if there was somebody listening to this conversation right now, and they were working at a higher ed agency, and they wanted to go incubate a new product or service. What do you think the industry needs more of?
[00:29:35] Tony: Yeah, I mean, I, I, I, I, what I'm seeing right now, already, and I think this is gonna, this need is going to grow, is, is actually less doing the things for them, and more coaching services to teach the schools how to do it themselves. A great example is, I know a school that I've had a relationship with them and known them for a long time, great friends.
[00:29:58] They consume a lot of our content. [00:30:00] Built their own landing page, built their own quiz for social work. It's a really cool content piece. It gets its ranks really high, right? It's not a client of ours. We didn't do it. I'm not, not tooting our own. They did some great work. They did the basics and they got it off the ground.
[00:30:13] They they're at level two. Yeah. They want to go to level three. Yeah. But they've got the marketing people. They've got the enrollment people. Like they don't want to outsource the services. They need to be shown how to take it to the next level. Yeah. So they need help with some CRM. They need some like HubSpot consulting and they need like.
[00:30:28] coaching and guidance on how to take something they started and take it to the next level. They don't want us to do it for them. They want us to help teach them how they can do it. So, honestly, I would say it's a lot more... I know this is a little cheesy, but it's like... More services that are consulting and coaching and teaching people how to fish, rather than doing the fishing for them.
[00:30:47] As I see higher ed really look at who they're hiring next, and MarCon departments hiring more skilled people, but then they need training. Or enrollment management people who need more training on certain areas that they might not have expertise in. Um, I think [00:31:00] that's really the future is we're already starting to do that.
[00:31:03] We're seeing a lot more schools come to us and say, Hey, we, we got on this. We just need you to show us how to do this thing so we can take it from here. And so we're, we're training lots of teams or coaching them or we're, we're doing some of the setup and then giving them the custom training videos to help them establish SOPs, you know, standard operating procedures so that four people on their team can then follow that.
[00:31:24] Zach: Yeah. Yeah. No, that's super interesting. And like, I think what's happening in marketing and admissions to. It isn't unlike what's happened in, in software over the last like 10 to 20 years, where it used to be the case that, you know, you had a couple people that knew how to operate the software tools and like everything had to be routed through them.
[00:31:41] Like if you wanted an email sent, you couldn't send an email. You had to put in a request and someone from it probably sent the email. Right. And yet now we have platforms like HubSpot platforms, like element for 51 zillions of other platforms that are literally built for non technical people. Right. So like these, these, these platforms, they build tools so that.[00:32:00]
[00:32:00] Marketers can go and implement their ideas. Right. And, and, and therefore as time goes on, they get, people get better at using these tools. You need less of it's time. Yeah.
[00:32:10] Tony: Everyone still need a developer on your website. Yeah. You're
[00:32:14] Zach: way behind. Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and that clearly translates just into marketing strategy and really sort of like marketing the work that marketers have to do, right.
[00:32:23] Most people shouldn't have to spend a hundred percent of their budget. Asking an agency to do very simple tasks, like send an email, right? Their time and energy and budget is much better spent asking you to do things that they are just ill equipped to do because they don't know how, right? Not, not, not because like they know how they just, they just don't have the time.
[00:32:44] I feel like that, that is a shift that's going to happen with agency services in general over the next decade is it's going to be more about like, all right, what is the 20 percent that you can do that? I just can't, and I want that 20%. Um, I know that you can do the other 80%, [00:33:00] but you, you actually probably shouldn't write for lots of reasons.
[00:33:03] So just, just give me your 20 and let, let my team do, you know, the, the other 80. So it'd be interesting to see how that shakes out. Yeah.
[00:33:10] Tony: I think the, the interesting factor in that, that hired has to overcome first though, is they've got to be able to pay people more and they've got to be actually be able to hire that talent.
[00:33:17] Yeah. And so that only works if they're actually able to do it. And right now in 2023. Most higher ed is operating in a massive deficit of personnel. And so most teams are still totally understrapped. They do not have nearly enough people to do the things they want to do. So, yes, there's a 20 percent that we can do that they definitely can't do.
[00:33:37] Then there's the 80 percent that they should do, but they can only do 40 percent of it. Because they literally don't have enough humans to click a button. So what happens to that other 40%? That is the real question. And so, for the schools that can figure that out, awesome. They can do the 80 and only hire out for 20, but for the schools that can't, I would argue they need to find a way to get some of that stuff done because [00:34:00] some of that stuff is critical.
[00:34:01] And it's why they're bleeding. And so they're not operating on a sustainable kind of machine, and I think you're seeing a lot of Yeah. Regime changes in higher ed right now that are trying to come in and fix whole systems and teams and departments and restructuring because it's just totally upside down.
[00:34:17] Yeah. So that capability is only true if you actually have enough humans to do it. And again, all for the AI tools and all that stuff. I'm not, we won't need as many humans as we did before. I get it, but you still will need a
[00:34:28] Zach: certain amount. Yeah. So, yeah. No, that's good. I want to end in just a second here with a.
[00:34:33] A couple questions from the audience, if you all have any, but before, as they, as they think the last question I have for you is. Obviously, schools are facing huge budgetary challenges. Schools are facing huge talent retention and acquisition challenges. I'd be curious how you think schools can work more collaboratively, like within, within an institution to, to merge budgets, right?
[00:34:58] Like, why is it so hard [00:35:00] for advancement? And enrollment management to come together and work on some sort of collaborative campaign, right, even even if all it is is streamlining the email marketing design, like the email designs for a marketing campaign, right? Even if the copy is totally different. Like, how do you predict?
[00:35:17] Merging of requests and, you know, consolidating of vendors even, right? Like, how is that going to continue to play out in the industry? So I think for
[00:35:25] Tony: sure we're going to continue to see, like, I think ultimately that's the job of a great CMO. Yeah. And as more schools, I mean, we've talked about this before and, you know.
[00:35:34] I know enrollify speaks a lot to this and has provided actually a huge space and proliferated like great exchange of ideas among CMOs stuff with Jamie Hunt has been incredible. Like, I think we're going to see more CMO chief marketing officer thinking. At more institutions. And that's ultimately their job is to bring that together and bridge those gaps when those gaps aren't bridged.
[00:35:57] Well, schools waste money. Yeah. So we [00:36:00] need more enrollment marketing that term. We're seeing that more in titles. I know it's still young, but it's that the schools that can bridge together enrollment management and marketing communications. Yeah. Those circles overlap today more so than ever before and will continue to merge.
[00:36:17] I know there will be areas that are distinct, but you have to have really good congruency. The left hand has to know what the right hand is doing. And I don't care if they have to pull money from different budgets. I'm all fine for that, but they have to be working in together, not against each other. And that is ultimately, I think a CMO and kind of VP of enrollment management need to share in some schools.
[00:36:39] That's the same person. So that's not, but I'd say one other thing on that. Cause you can't force organizational change. Yeah. Some schools, that's a great point where we just said, and it's not going to happen for them for another five years. So what do they do? Here's what you do next. You stop wasting money in major areas.
[00:36:59] [00:37:00] And the number one place where schools are overspending when it comes to enrollment marketing is in paid. Digital advertising or just paid advertising overall. Yeah. Yeah. There are so many dollars wasted. I cannot tell you how frequently we see it. I literally know of several examples just from this month.
[00:37:23] School's coming in. They're stuck in contracts, spending hundreds of thousands over millions of dollars on paid advertising. The results it's getting is significantly below industry averages. Like compared to free published benchmark reports that are out there and they've re signed the contract. I know school spending, you know, seven figures in this area getting one tenth of the results that they should be getting.
[00:37:53] And so those are real problems until that bleeding stops. You could take [00:38:00] a quarter of the money spent of the investment and get double or triple the results. Yeah.
[00:38:07] Zach: That's a game changer. I mean, unfortunately too, like historically, and even still today, the, those benchmarks that you're referring to, they're just not well known.
[00:38:16] They're not, they're not well published. There's no, like, there's no body of knowledge out there that everyone can agree to is like the God of enrollment marketing metrics. Right. And because of that, right. People just don't specifically fire you. Yeah, they, they just don't. They don't know. Like, they don't know if 23 cost per click is great or horrible, right?
[00:38:36] And so I feel like that's, that is work that needs to be done in the industry. I do want to go to the audience. Any, any questions from you all based off of our discussion today? Yeah, Tim here. Why don't you come up and speak into the mic?
[00:38:52] Tony: Alright, this is for both of you. For the schools, you talk about a lot of schools that are behind the eight ball, behind the curve. For the ones that are doing really well, are there certain things that they have in [00:39:00] common, either And their team, their attitude, their structure. Like what, what are the best schools all do?
[00:39:06] Yeah, and that was Tim. He's a senior content strategist here at DD agency. Tim, thanks for that question. One thing I see from the schools that are doing really well. is I see where the individual colleges or departments they have their own dedicated marketing person for that department and that person works with and for the admissions team, the enrollment team.
[00:39:25] So where I see like this College of Arts and Sciences or this law school or this business school at the university, that when they have their own marketing person and that marketing person works with The enrollment management team. Well, very differently than central Marcom, which may also be involved to some degree with some kind of umbrella support at a high level.
[00:39:48] But when those schools have their own dedicated marketing person, that person works with enrollment. Those are some of the best schools we see doing stuff because there's the marketing person serves their school [00:40:00] and their audiences, so they don't. Those are the schools that don't put out ads that have the wrong faces of people that don't match their prospective students, right?
[00:40:08] So it's like, that person serves them. They know their programs. They know all 20 programs they offer, and they get it. So they're essentially marketing a sub brand. And that, when I see that, generally it's just, they always work better. They work more efficiently, there's less waste, they get what we're talking about with them, they just do things quicker, their content's better.
[00:40:29] That's what I
[00:40:30] Zach: see. I would just add quickly, one of, one of the schools that comes to mind is Purdue and they're sort of known in like the higher ed marketing circles is like a flagship, great example of excellent marketing across, across the spectrum. And for, I don't know too much about their actual strategies, but.
[00:40:48] Ethan Brayden, who's their CMO. He's been on our podcast a couple of times and he's just a wonderful person to follow on, on social media if you don't follow him already. And one of the things that I think he and his team do really well [00:41:00] is like they play in the content trenches, meaning like he. He actually requires his team to spend time like on social media, just like browsing, right?
[00:41:09] And just like creating content for LinkedIn or Twitter or what, you know, whatever platform that they're interested in. And, and his reason for that is like, if, if we're trying, these things change so quickly, right? And marketing, as we've discussed today, changes so quickly that if you don't. No, if your sword isn't sharp, so to speak, if you don't know, like what's actually working today, it's really difficult to come up with a strategy for a marketing campaign that'll be successful.
[00:41:31] And then what they also do really well, especially at the undergraduate level is they've got like a team of, I don't know if they call them student ambassadors or social ambassadors, but basically they've run content by. A team of students to see like, how would you react to this campaign? Like, what, what are your thoughts on this?
[00:41:46] Right. And it's, it, it can be as little as like an email header to something as significant as like a tagline for a big new, you know, development campaign that might be working on. And so I think the schools that have their pulse and then, you know, some people are going to be like, well, [00:42:00] Purdue has, you know, a hundred times the resources that I have.
[00:42:02] And that, that might be true, but the schools that have. Their pulse on what's kind of happening and working right now, I think have the best opportunity for success. Yeah, actually say it, say it into the mic, Jamie, just for folks. Introduce yourself. Jamie Gleason, longtime
[00:42:17] Tony: listener, first time caller. The interesting thing though, Zach, about what you just said is that those two things that they do
[00:42:25] Zach: are both free.
[00:42:26] Yeah, exactly. Good. Maddie, you have a question?
[00:42:31] Tony: Introduce yourself. Introduce myself. I'm Maddie. I am the head of company culture and talent development here. Yeah. Okay. So this is a question about something you said a little earlier, how like higher ed. Particularly grad schools, the lag time between like adopting cutting edge stuff from, you know, the, the industry.
[00:42:53] So, what is one thing, this is more of like a hypothetical, a fun exercise, we've been talking a lot about [00:43:00] disruption. What is, what is one thing that you Have seen recently like a, a campaign, it could be like a, an ad campaign or a tactic or a trend or something that you've seen recently in the, you know, paid advertising, like the, you know, business businesses like Coke and, and those kinds of things that they've run that you would love to see adopted by some scrappy higher ed that's willing to just take a chance.
[00:43:26] I would love. And so I've seen this a few times in higher ed, but it's very rare. But I particularly, I actually really think it's not a particular tactic in a way that they're doing it. It actually has to do with the way that they talk about, way higher ed talks about, way a school talks about itself. So...
[00:43:46] The thing I've seen most recently that I love is actually come from a lot of the tourism industries of cities, counties, states, countries. And actually we were just talking about this earlier and there's a couple examples that, that I think Mel gave or someone gave in one [00:44:00] of their presentations that they worked on, but being really bold.
[00:44:05] And owning your identity of your school in a way that isn't trying to be generic. And so I really think it comes down to the messaging like we're not this But we are this and we're unabashedly this yeah, and the schools that do that Well, this is so weird to see in higher ed because most schools are afraid to do something that edgy And it'll I don't know take off the board of trustees or I know the provost won't like it but The schools that are really bold with their messaging that are willing to say something very atypical.
[00:44:33] So the example we had was like Nebraska and the state of Nebraska tourism industry said, yeah, honestly, it's not for everyone. But, and then I think the next line was like, we think people who are bored are boring and we make our own fun. It's always like a boring state who wants to go to Nebraska.
[00:44:52] There's nothing there. Right. But a bunch of corn, it's pretty flat. Right. But they're owning it. And making a joke out of it and it's [00:45:00] what that stuff works. Yeah, schools willing to do edgy and not say the traditional thing that it's about their messaging. That is so hard for school to do because you are going to take off somebody somewhere and someone thinks that's not okay.
[00:45:16] But honestly, in marketing, that's the kind of thing we were talking about earlier, Zach. Like, that's the kind of stuff that catches the attention, that gets your brother to then spend an hour watching the video. Because it's like, wait a minute, this is, I could see myself at that school. It's not generic, it's not run of the mill, it doesn't sound like something every other school would say.
[00:45:34] Nebraska is saying something that they know very few other states would say. And they're okay with the uncomfortableness of it. Yeah. That. Is what I see more in like the Coca Cola is in the for profit world Where they're willing to be edgy and risk that stuff and worst thing they have to do is apologize and take it down Yeah, but they're willing to do that higher ed Way too old school way too old guard way too stingy [00:46:00] and they've got to be willing to take that risk or become irrelevant
[00:46:04] Zach: Well, and I think what's super interesting is even at like the smallest of higher ed institutions There's typically still a fair amount of diversity, right?
[00:46:12] Like even if you're enrollment is a couple thousand students like that. Those couple thousand students are a pretty diverse most of the time customer base. And so I think that a big fear is that, well, Hey, we can't be, you know, to, we can't speak too much to this audience or too much to that audience, or we can't have, you know, too many white kids in the photo here, too many black kids in the photo here.
[00:46:36] Like there, there are all these like, Considerations that the schools had to take because so much of their product, quite frankly, is this like promisive community and this promissive like you're going to come here. You're going to learn things and network and meet people that you would... You've never talked to in your entire life.
[00:46:54] And that's part of, like, the sale of education. [00:47:00] It is so difficult to be edgy and to be different without ostracizing a population or populations. But to your point, and actually I was just talking to somebody on this podcast a couple weeks ago about this very topic, to your point, the marketing is always going to feel stale in general until school's pain is bad enough where they realize we're going to literally, our doors are literally going to close unless we do something different.
[00:47:27] Maybe now it's okay to not have a 60 second video where we show every type of person who looks every
[00:47:33] Tony: different way. Try and be all things to all people. Yeah, yeah. And then say the three things that every school says. Exactly. Small class sizes, great student faculty ratio, and another power stat. I will say on
[00:47:42] Zach: a positive note, I think we're entering a season where the pain is getting really, really, really great.
[00:47:49] Where I hope you'll start seeing more of this and I really do think like we're on the cusp of that right and some schools are really going to have to start taking big [00:48:00] risks and be okay with the consequences and yeah, it's a very exciting time. Um, well, hey, Tony, this has been wonderful. Thank you all for participating in this podcast interview.
[00:48:09] One of our few live recordings, but appreciate your time. If you are listening to this podcast interview, and if you want to learn a little bit more about the great work happening at DD agency, we will have a plethora of links in the show notes below. You can connect with Tony on LinkedIn and we will have links to the DD agency website as well.
[00:48:26] But Tony, thank you so much for your time and thanks for all the great work that you're doing in the industry.
[00:48:29] Tony: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
[00:48:37] Zach: Hey all, Zach here from Enrollify. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Enrollify podcast. If you liked this episode, do us a Huge favor and hit that follow and subscribe button below. Furthermore, if you've got just two minutes to spare, we would greatly appreciate you reading a rating and a review of this show on Apple.
[00:48:55] Our podcast network is growing by the month and we've got a plethora of marketing, admissions, and higher ed [00:49:00] technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks that are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional. But Enrollify is far more than just a podcast network, Enrollify is where higher ed comes to learn new marketing skills, discover new products and services, and find their next job.
[00:49:18] We're a growing learning community of 4, 000 members and we'd love to welcome you into the fold. You can access our free blog articles, newsletters, e courses, and more, or purchase our master course on how to market a university with Terry Flannery at enrollify.org. We look forward to meeting you soon and welcoming you into the community.
[00:49:37] Again, you can subscribe for free at enrollify.org.[00:50:00]
About the Episode
The what's what...
In this episode, Zach sits down with Tony Fraga, CEO of DD Agency, live at DD Agency’s biannual retreat, DevDays, to discuss the future of marketing leadership, trends in higher ed marketing worth paying attention to (and those trends NOT with paying attention to).
Furthermore, the duo discusses what it means to be a disruptor in the context of marketing today, why SEO matters today more than ever before for colleges and universities, and the skillsets Tony believes will be crucial for marketers to attain — or further develop — in the next couple of years.
This episode is brought to you by our friends at DD Agency:
DD Agency is a higher ed-specific marketing technology agency that has conducted countless SEO Audits for colleges and universities across the country.
In these audits, they detail where you currently rank, what you could be ranking for, exactly how copy should be tweaked on website pages, and much more.
If this sounds like something you could benefit from, give those folks a ping and be sure to mention that Enrollify sent you to claim a 10% discount on any of their SEO offerings.
Head on over to enrollify.org/ddaseo, or simply follow the link in the show notes below…that will guarantee you get a 10% discount off of your audit.
About the Enrollify Podcast Network
The Enrollify Podcast is a part of the Enrollify Podcast Network. If you like this podcast, chances are you’ll like other Enrollify shows too!
Our podcast network is growing by the month and we’ve got a plethora of marketing, admissions, and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks all designed to empower you to be a better higher ed professional.
Our shows feature a selection of the industry’s best as your hosts. Learn from Jaime Hunt, Allison Turcio, Corynn Myers, Dustin Ramsdell, Terry Flannery, Jaime Gleason and many more.
Learn more about The Enrollify Podcast Network at podcasts.enrollify.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big idea — come and find yours!
About the Podcast
Zach is the Founder of Enrollify. He thoroughly enjoys building new brands, developing and executing content marketing strategies, and hosting podcasts. When he's not working on Enrollify, he enjoys discussing life's quandaries over coffee (or a good bourbon) with friends, building Sponstayneous (his travel brand side hustle), trying out new HIIT workouts, and adventuring across the globe with his wife!
Tony is the CEO and a marketing strategist at DD — an enrollment marketing technology agency that specializes in implementing inbound, content-based methodologies. He leads a team of fast-paced marketing innovators, who handle everything from content creation to marketing automation, and thrives at the intersection of strategy and technology. Tony speaks regularly at higher education and non-profit marketing conferences on the topics of content marketing, SEO, and the latest trends in digital media.
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DD Agency is a digital marketing agency for higher education with a propensity for marketing technology. They're the only HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency that exclusively serves the enrollment marketing space. Living out their mission statement "We help Davids beat Goliaths" means DD helps clients develop inbound marketing strategies that use content and marketing automation to achieve their enrollment goals. Whether you're looking for a full-fledged, 12-month strategic marketing plan, or just a fresh approach to a blitz campaign, they're the marketing partner you want in your corner! The DD team is guided by 6 core values: treat clients like family, be ridiculously helpful, challenge conventional thinking, treasure transparency, adapt and improve, and "make it fridge-worthy."learn more
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