Developing, Implementing & Maintaining Digital or e-Marketing & Communication Strategy in International Education
Nowadays there are very good resources to inform development of in house e-marketing or digital, SEO, SM and communications strategy through online and in-house training. This is evidenced by the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) eMarketing Tutorial Kit developed for local and global travel agencies with high school or vocational level education, with minimal technical skills (Australian Tourism Data Warehouse, 2015).
Small or large education institutions can leverage this above mentioned kit, or similar, as they presumably have teaching or training skills in house, thus creating a learning environment around digital based marketing and communications.
Workplace skills development for digital marketing
In house workplace learning, formal and informal, is an important driver of workplace education and skills, including marketing and communication, reflecting a learning cycle developed by Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory, see Figure 1.
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory
- Concrete Experience
- Reflective Observation
- Abstract Conceptualisation
- Active Experimentation
- Concrete Experience – Review (start again)
All personnel, customers and stakeholders can contribute and learn as above through feedback, to develop a marketing and communications system or cycle, if organisational culture and structure fit. Importantly, as the world becomes more diverse institutions do too, they must adopt different communication strategies reflecting bottom up communication and their own institution (Paxtor Education Matters, 2017).
Such strategies are also directly relevant and essential to business, including small medium enterprises (SME) in other sectors. However, many businesses suffer from self-imposed limitations by claiming digital is too technical or simply an ‘add-on’ activity described as digital. The solution is to simply ask customers which digital and SM communication channels they prefer, and have them develop content or CGM customer generated marketing (Koehn, 2017).
Not just a question of why, but how to analyse a digital customer journey?
It’s clear that digital and ICT encompassing websites, blogs, multimedia, social media, etc. have changed not ‘why’ students make a purchase decision, but ‘how’? In other words, what does a study candidate’s preferred information search process include over time e.g. behaviour, actions and tools during the discovery journey?
The potential factors that emerge from the literature and industry reporting can be grouped under key phases or dimensions of the purchasing process. This includes ‘decision factors’ focused upon needs e.g. course, price, institution and destination.
The major phase or dimension is ‘information seeking’ factors including WOM, translated information, device, website quality, SEO, paid search engine marketing (SEM), web-based SM, mobile based SM, SM based WOM, browser types, cookies and privacy.
Additionally, how do students analyse information, or what resource factors for the ‘analysis of information’ including peers, consultants, speed of communication, two-way communication, relationship marketing and institutional rankings.
Final group of factors on ‘decision making’ from the literature included visa, immigration, post purchase satisfaction and the importance of evaluating marketing and communications through enrolled or prospective students; is the marketing message being communicated well to the target market, according to them?
The inferred outcomes or factors to develop a construct, system or cycle, based on student or stakeholder feedback and related literature, can inform the marketing and communications processes for international education, other sectors and sole traders through SME to large entities. This literature review and the following focus respondent research feedback, helped inform the final survey instrument including key dimensions made of factor clusters; leading to process of triangulation.
Mapping the inferred process
These factor clusters came under: Recognition of Need, Information Search, Evaluation of Alternatives, Purchase Decision and Post Purchase Behaviour; able to accommodate a process or cycle (see Figure 2 below).
Five Stage Purchase Decision Behaviour Model or Process (simplified)
- Recognition of Need
- Information Search
- Evaluation of Alternatives
- Purchase Decision
- Post Purchase Behaviour
(Kotler & Keller, 2012).
Andrew, C. (2001) Experiential Learning Theory. Available at: http://gdn.glos.ac.uk/gibbs/ch2.htm (Accessed on: 15/06/2017).
A.T.D.W. Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (2015) Exciting Future for the Tourism E Kit. Available at: http://atdw.com.au/2015/07/01/exciting-future-tourism-e-kit/ (Accessed on: 15/06/2017).
Koehn, E. (2017) SMEs confused on social media: Only four out of 10 have a strategy to capture consumers. Available at: http://www.smartcompany.com.au/marketing/social-media/smes-confused-social-media-four-10-strategy-capture-consumers/#.WVSszMCHkk4.email (Accessed: 29/06/2017).
Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012) Marketing Management. (14th Ed.) Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education – Prentice Hall.
Paxtor Education Matters (2017) Digital Strategy for Higher Education: Complexity, Identity, Promise. Education Matters Blog. Available at: https://educationmatters.blog/2017/05/16/digital-strategy-for-higher-education-complexity-identity-promise/ (Accessed on: 27/05/2017).