Published: 21st May 2024

Best Marketing Strategies for Universities


Email Marketing
Designing a University Prospectus
Blog Strategy
Google Review Strategy
Creating a High-Converting Website
Video Marketing
Social Media

Gone are the days when a prestigious name alone could fill lecture halls. From leveraging digital platforms and social media to crafting compelling narratives about their unique offerings and campus experiences, universities are redefining how they present themselves to the world. This article explores the most effective marketing strategies universities can use to stand out in a crowded marketplace, ensuring they not only attract top talent but also foster a vibrant, diverse academic community.


Understand your target audience

When creating your university email marketing strategy, it should always start with understanding who your target audience is. With universities, you will, of course, have a clear idea of the age group that you are targeting, but there may be nuances within this. Perhaps you want to position your university as the place to go for sports, or you’d like to target more international students. By drilling down to who your prospective students are, you can be much more targeted with your email marketing. 

Create personas

Creating personas is a fairly crucial element in understanding your target audience, where they hang out and what is important to them. Look at the data of current students and understand what their interests, demographics and values are. Are they all predominantly based in a fairly local area to the university? Are elements such as inclusivity and sustainability really important to them? Do they hang out on specific social media channels? By understanding all these elements, you can then create much more targeted messaging.

Start by segmenting your audience

When looking to deliver an email marketing strategy, one of the first places to start is by looking at how to segment your audience. There’s no quicker way to rack up those unsubscribes than if you’re sending content that doesn’t resonate with the end user. There are many ways you can segment your email communications, and these might depend on your university or target audience. 

Way to segment your university email comms

  • Prospective students
  • Current students
  • Alumni students
  • Courses the student is enrolled on
  • Non-academic interests, such as sports, art and drama
  • Levels of engagement with campaigns

Consider where your prospective students are in their university journey

When setting out your email strategy, you should consider where the student is in their journey, as this will guide the content that is relevant to them. Are they at a stage when they’re starting to consider universities, are they in their final year of university so career content would be valuable, or are they an alumni student so might be interested in reunions or key changes at the university? Draw out each stage of your student’s journey and start to map the types of content that might resonate at each stage. This will give you a wealth of content to engage them with. 

Consider how you will grow your email list

Whilst prospective students are in the consideration stage, this is a key time that you can be marketing your university to them. But first, you will need their email addresses and their consent to email them. To gather prospective students’ email addresses, consider the types of marketing activities you could use. This might be gated webinar content, a downloadable prospectus or ‘registering for more info’ type CTAs. 

Consider how often you are emailing

When creating your university email marketing strategy, it’s important to think about how often your target audience may want to receive content. This will very much vary depending on the segment. For example, alumni students will have a low frequency of emails, perhaps every quarter. Whereas current students may receive emails weekly or even daily, depending on the types of content you’re sharing.  

Automate your emails (so they’re working in your sleep)

Email automation is so important, as it means when a certain trigger happens then an email can be sent – removing any laborious manual aspect. It also means that the trigger emails will land in the audience’s inbox at a time that’s most relevant to them. 

Examples of the triggers that email automation can be created for

  • A download of a university prospectus
  • Registering for an Open Day
  • Signing up for a webinar
  • Registering for weekly university news

Choose the right CTA

Make sure you always consider what you want your audience to do after reading your email content. This might be signing up to a webinar, attending a virtual campus tour or registering for weekly emails of university news. By having a clear CTA, you can help maximise results. 

Consider the frequency of your university email

The frequency of your emails is a really important element of your university email campaigns. Start by considering where the user is in their journey. For instance, somebody considering what university to go to may require more regular emails than an alumni student who needs less frequent updates. 

Video content can bring your emails to life

Email campaigns don’t always need to include just static graphics. Video is a fantastic way to get your message across and have your students take a particular action. There’s a wide range of videos that can support email marketing, such as:

  • The university dean welcome
  • Promotional university videos
  • A virtual campus tour
  • Alumni testimonials
  • Behind the scenes of a university department
  • Graduation ceremony footage
  • University event videos

See our university video case studies for inspiration on the types of videos you can create

Newsletters are a great way to keep students informed

Whilst we would always want to veer towards highly targeted email campaigns, newsletters can be a really effective way to share news of the university. 

Types of content you can include in your university newsletter

  • Sports team wins
  • University news
  • New lecturers
  • Upcoming university improvements
  • Behind-the-scenes video content
  • Links to social media channels
  • Award wins
  • Blog articles relevant to the audience

For success, continuously measure and analyse

The most successful email campaigns are continuously measured and tweaked to improve. There are various elements you can measure when it comes to your university email campaigns and these might include. 

  • Open Rate
  • Click Through Rate
  • A/B Subject Line results
  • Open rate by segment
  • Success by day sent

Use Lead magnets to grow your email list

Growing your email list can be a laborious process, especially if you don’t have mechanisms in place to push people to part with their email addresses. A great way to do this can be to have a downloadable prospectus. Consider what happens after the download and the types of prospectus they are downloading. Is the prospectus focused on doing a science or arts degree? Therefore, the email comms they receive after should be tailored specifically to this interest. 

Continuously test out new subject lines

The subject lines of your university emails are one of the most important considerations, as they dictate whether somebody will open it or not. Make sure that the subject line demonstrates the value inside the email and that it’s clear what they are receiving. 

A/B test your emails for maximum effectiveness

It’s good practice to test your email campaigns with A/B testing continually. This will help you gather a wealth of data on what is resonating with your audience and help to guide future campaigns. 


A prospectus is a key marketing activity that can help support registrations to your university. A well designed university prospectus can be the difference between someone deciding whether or not to go to your university, so it’s important to get it right. 

Here is our handy checklist for getting it right

  1. Understand your audience. Only include content that resonates with them.
  2. Create an eye-catching cover
  3. Create a linkable table of contents
  4. Highlight the key university departments
  5. Highlight non-academic programmes or activities
  6. Highlight upcoming Open Days
  7. Include a wide range of student photography
  8. Showcase the accommodation
  9. Include information on placements or study abroad programmes
  10. Showcase the available sports clubs
  11. Introduce the lecturers
  12. Showcase facilities and resources such as gyms, canteen facilities etc
  13. Include student testimonials
  14. Bring it to life with promotional videos
  15. Link to a virtual tour
  16. Include a campus map
  17. Include information on the mature student’s community
  18. Create a course index, with links to find out more on each course
  19. Highlight support networks
  20. Clearly explain the admissions process
  21. Include term dates
  22. Include all the information on fees, ensuring no hidden costs
  23. Include clear contact details for further information
  24. Ensure a clear design and layout
  25. Create print and digital versions
  26. Keep it updated
  27. Ensure it is proofread


A blog is a really helpful resource for both current and prospective students. We always recommend drawing out your student’s journey and then creating content that matches where they are in the journey. For instance, somebody in sixth form is looking for very different content to somebody in their 3rd year of university. Rather than just uploading it all into one continuous blog flow, consider putting it into different sections, so that somebody landing on the blog can more easily find what they are looking for.

University-Focused Content

Student Spotlight
Behind the scenes of a department
Behind the scenes of each accommodation
Educational trends and insights
Admissions advice
Campus tours
Alumni success stories
Community involvement


Reviews are really important when it comes to your university and are a huge way to build trust with potential students. Consider how you are gathering reviews, i.e are you including the link to review in email marketing etc, and also consider your entire review strategy. 

Some key things to consider with reviews.

Are you answering each review that is posted (whether it’s good or bad)?
Are you using an easy mechanism to ask for reviews?
Are you asking for reviews at the right time in the student journey?
Are you looking at reviews across all sites, not just Google?
If you’re receiving negative reviews, are strategies in place to help improve them?


Your website is obviously one of your most important assets and it’s really important for prospective and current students to be able to find what they need on it. Therefore it’s always a good idea to implement conversion optimisation on the site. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as

  • Heat Mapping
  • User Testing
  • Analysis of Google Analytics and how people are using the site

Elements to consider with conversion optimisation

  • Above-the-fold messaging. What is the first message you want to get across about your uni?
  • Is the logo clear and above the fold
  • Is the menu navigation clear
  • Can students easily find the course they’re looking to study
  • Are there trust factors such as awards, testimonials, rankings etc
  • Is it clear how to attend an Open Day
  • Can students easily find information on accommodation, the campus and the student community
  • Is it clear how to find the university?


There are a number of ways you can use video to support driving university admissions. It’s a really powerful and visual way to have prospective students understand what life is like at your university, which a blog or static graphic just can’t achieve. 

Showcase University Life

Use university to show what life is like at the university, from inside the departments or the parties to the sports facilities and student clubs. 

Spotlight high-performing departments

If your university is excelling in science then make sure to showcase the why behind it. Interview lecturers and students, and delve into what students learn when taking these types of courses. 

Capture special events

Capturing special events is a great way to market them for future years. This might be high profile sporting events or graduation ceremonies. 

Create testimonials and success stories

These are an excellent way to build trust and show prospective students what they might achieve if they choose your university. Interview students on why they loved their university and what it helped them achieve in their following years. 

Address FAQs

Video doesn’t always have to be cinematic masterpieces. Consider what questions prospective students might have and create bitesized content to answer this. This might be more details on the admissions process, how to make friends at uni or more information on the sporting facilities. 

Deliver virtual Open Days

Not everyone can always attend Open Days in person, so consider how you might do this virtually. If you’re wanting to do this live, then you may want to ensure that you have an experienced camera and tech crew to support. 


SEO is a really important channel when it comes to universities as you can create content that answers a prospective students challenges. Helping to build brand awareness. There are alot of considerations with SEO from onsite and offsite, but there are a few quick wins that you can easily implement. 

Keyword Research

The backbone of SEO is keyword research. This forms the basis of what students are looking for, what has the highest volume and whether the keywords have the right intent. Tools such as Moz, SEMrush or Ahrefs are great for keyword research (though they come with a price tag), otherwise a more affordable option is Ubersuggest. 

Optimise your website navigation

Reducing your bounce rate is a really important ranking factor, so as part of your SEO strategy you should be considering whether improvements can be made. Look at Google Analytics and see where you have a low engagement rate and whether these pages can be improved. 

Create an excellent SEO blog

Your blog can be a goldmine for wooing prospective students. Do a big brain dump on what students’ challenges are and then perform keyword research to understand the keyword volumes. There’s a whole host of content that can then be written to support this, such as:

University SEO Blog Content Ideas

  • Deep dives into each degree
  • How to prepare for university
  • How to choose your university
  • How to make friends at university
  • How to choose your degree
  • Best universities for XYZ degree

Make sure to consider what you want the prospective student to do when they land on the blog? For instance if they’re reading a blog about a particular degree, then include a downloadable prospectus on that degree. Or if they’re reading the Best Universities for XYZ degree’ then perhaps include a link to sign up to the next Open Day. 

Include a video on your website

Video can dramatically increase dwell time on your website, which is a ranking factor. So we really recommend using video as a way for users to engage with your website. 

Build quality backlinks

In the SEO world there is a lot of spammy work happening when it comes to backlinking. So always make sure to not go down that route. PR and backlinking can be very much intertwined so work with your PR team on ensuring that links back to your website are always included in press releases. Good content will also naturally pick up backlinks as people will want to link to it. 

Optimise your onpage elements

It’s really important to ensure that all the foundational aspects of your website are set up from an SEO point of view. This can include (but is not limited to)

  • Make sure each page targets a different keyword
  • H1, H2, H3 etc tags are in place
  • URLs are correctly set up
  • There are no 404 errors
  • Images are all correctly labelled
  • Alt tags have been set
  • Does the page have a clear CTA
  • Is the page high quality, i.e high-resolution images, good info, clear titles, well designed
  • Does the website load fast
  • Is your keyword in the first 100 words
  • Is the website written for humans and not robots
  • Are all broken links removed
  • Are images optimised for loading speed
  • Is your keyword in your H1



Social media can be a very time consuming element of marketing, but when it works well can be hugely fruitful. Remember you don’t need to be across all social media, just the ones your audience is on.  Always aim to not post for posting sake, and create a clear social media strategy with content that is relevant to your audience. 

Here are our top ideas of what to include on your social media.

  • Interviews with lecturers
  • The history of the university
  • Tie-ins with relevant trends
  • Student testimonials
  • A day in the life of a student
  • Departmental tours
  • University partnerships
  • Student achievements
  • Study tips
  • Recommendations for cheap eats in the local area
  • Recommendations of what to do in the local area
  • Alumni success stories
  • Alignment with cultural days
  • What to expect at the uni
  • How to prepare for exams



Social media ads are a highly effective way to get your university in front of people who might not know about it. You can be highly focused on who you target, plus also retarget those who have landed on your site previously. As ads can easily rack up the £££s quickly, make sure that you’re laser-focused on who your target audience is and the message that you’re putting in front of them. Always focus on the channels where your audience is, so if they’re predominantly on TikTok then that’s where you’ll want to put the majority of your ad spend. 

These university marketing strategy tips just scratch the surface of what you can do for your university. Our team of video experts and marketing specialists are full of ideas on how video can drive registrations, build brand awareness and engage current students, so if you’d like to have a chat with one of the team, then drop us a line 


Hatty Wilmoth

Hatty is the Marketing Manager for Maia Films. Passionate about all things video related, Hatty loves creating content, delving into the challenges of SEO and brainstorming with the team. When not orchestrating marketing campaigns, Hatty can be found exploring London markets, firing up the pizza oven or trying her hand at pottery.
Maia Films is the UK's premier educational video production company, specialising in universities and higher education content. Over the past 15 years, we have collaborated with more than 90 UK universities, telling their stories, showcasing their research, educating learners, and boosting enrolments. If you'd like to chat with one of the team, then do drop us a line.