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10 Best Higher Education Marketing Agencies to Boost Your Brand Equity

By Adrienne Bosch Last updated: 22 minute read Marketing Agencies

Do you need a great higher education marketing agency? Higher education holds a unique position in the dynamic landscape of digital marketing.

Marketing for higher education institutions presents some specific nuances and demands, ones that a specialized higher education marketing agency can masterfully navigate to bolster enrollment numbers and build excellent brand reputations.

So, why is marketing for higher education different from other sectors? What do higher education marketing agencies bring to the table? And which are the best agencies to work with?

This in-depth review of the best higher education marketing agencies also delves into some of the nuances of higher education marketing, examining its significance, the unique strategies employed by top agencies, and the transformative effect it has on educational institutions around the world.

Let’s embark on this insightful journey!

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    Why Use Higher Education Marketing Agencies?

    The vast expanse of the educational system, with its myriad of institutions, programs, and student demographics, is a tapestry of challenges and opportunities.

    Unlike K–12 schools, which primarily focus on a more localized, regional audience, higher education often stretches its reach nationwide and, in many cases, globally.

    Online learning, from full degrees to short courses on specific skills, has increased dramatically after the Covid-19 pandemic that shifted the world more online than ever before.

    The competition is fierce and higher education institutions face more challenges and complexities than ever before, both online and on campus.

    Let’s take a look at some of the main challenges and how a good higher education marketing agency can help you overcome them:

    Unique Marketing Challenges Faced by Higher Education Institutions

    • Diverse Target Audiences: A K-12 education marketing agency generally focuses on parents or guardians within specific districts or regions. In contrast, higher education aims to resonate with a vast spectrum—fresh high school graduates, international students, working adults venturing back into education, or even professionals contemplating advanced degrees.
    • Competitive Landscape: The educational marketplace is saturated. Institutions grapple not just with traditional universities and colleges but also with online platforms, each offering unique courses, benefits, and experiences. This creates a heightened need for distinct branding and value propositions.
    • Regulatory and Accreditation Hurdles: Marketing for higher education isn’t just about being innovative; it’s about compliance. Institutions need to navigate a web of regulations governing claims, program outcomes, and even student testimonials. Any misstep could have dire repercussions, from reputational harm to legal ramifications.
    • Rapid Technological Advancements: Modern students operate in a digital-first environment. They seek virtual tours, online course previews, and digital campus experiences. Hence, a higher education digital marketing agency must stay ahead of tech trends, understanding how to harness newer platforms like virtual or augmented reality for immersive experiences.
    • Budgetary Constraints: Especially relevant for public universities and colleges, there’s a delicate balance to strike between crafting compelling campaigns and adhering to often tight budgetary confines. This calls for ingenious marketing solutions that optimize every dollar.

    The Role of Higher Education Marketing Agencies

    Recognizing these unique hurdles, higher education marketing agencies equip themselves to offer nuanced expertise and sector-specific strategies.

    Here’s a deeper dive into their transformative role:

    • Specialized Expertise: General marketing firms might cast a wide net, but an enrollment marketing agency fine-tunes its approach. By understanding student psychographics, evolving career trends, and academic aspirations, they craft campaigns that deeply resonate.
    • Data-Driven Insights: The world of digital marketing thrives on data. Agencies harness sophisticated analytical tools to track campaign performance, measure return on investment, and adapt in real-time, ensuring strategies are continually optimized for the target demographic.
    • Collaborative Efforts: Many agencies form collaborations with the higher education marketing association they’ve chosen to work with, assimilating industry best practices, staying updated on regulatory changes, and ensuring their marketing strategies are groundbreaking and compliant.
    • Holistic Marketing Strategies: It’s not just about glossy brochures or catchy ads. These agencies delve into every facet of marketing, from enhancing SEO rankings and digital footprints to orchestrating campus events and alumni outreach programs and harnessing the power of influencer partnerships.

    To see what Cornell University has to say about marketing a higher education institution, check out this video by Mongoose.

    Why Use Higher-Education Marketing Agencies?

    Institutions face distinct challenges in reaching diverse target audiences, navigating a saturated marketplace, adhering to strict regulations, keeping pace with technological advancements, and managing tight budgets. Recognizing these challenges, higher education marketing agencies provide specialized expertise, data-driven insights, collaborative efforts, and holistic marketing strategies tailored to the sector. Their nuanced approach ensures that institutions stand out, resonate with potential students, and achieve their enrollment and branding goals in an increasingly competitive landscape.

    10 Best Higher Education Marketing Agencies

    1. Vital

    Vital higher education marketing agency Logo

    Vital

    Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Our Score

    4.6

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2001

    Locations: Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA

    Number of Employees: 51-200

    KEY SERVICES

    • Website Design and Development
    • Content Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Paid Advertising Management
    • Conversion Rate Optimization
    • Brand Strategy
    • Social Media Strategy

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • The University of San Diego
    • The University of Massachusetts Lowell
    • The University of Cincinnati
    • The University of New Hampshire
    • College for America
    • University of Connecticut

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Vital’s distinct blend of comprehensive digital expertise and a keen understanding of the higher education sector positions them as a formidable ally for institutions.

    Their aptitude for converting website traffic into tangible results makes them a standout choice in the higher education marketing arena.

    Vital is a well-established digital agency renowned for its metrics-driven approach and innovative strategies in the realm of higher education marketing.

    With roots dating back to 2001, the agency brings with it two decades of experience, particularly standing out with its deep understanding of online degree programs and how to market them effectively.

    This mastery, combined with their inbound marketing philosophy, makes Vital an essential choice for universities and colleges aiming to elevate their online presence and drive impactful results.

    Vital higher education marketing agency
    Source: Vital

    2. Sixth City Marketing

    Sixth City Marketing higher education marketing agency Logo

    Sixth City Marketing

    Westlake, Ohio, USA

    Our Score

    4.6

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2010

    Locations: Westlake (Headquarters), Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis, Indiana; Nashville, Tennessee; and Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Number of Employees: 11-50

    KEY SERVICES

    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Pay-Per-Click Campaigns
    • Website Design and Development
    • Content Writing tailored to branding and niche
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Conversion Rate Optimization

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Kent State University
    • Ohio University
    • Columbus College of Art & Design
    • North American Trade Schools
    • West Virginia Junior College

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Sixth City Marketing is distinguished by their commitment to create unique, result-oriented strategies without taking shortcuts.

    Their approach, which merges attention to detail with varied services, positions them as a reliable partner for educational institutions seeking growth and visibility in the digital space.

    Since its inception in 2010, Sixth City Marketing has firmly established itself as a dedicated digital marketing agency with a particular emphasis on higher education.

    Situated in the heartland of Cleveland with a footprint across the Midwest, this agency understands the unique marketing challenges faced by educational institutions.

    By offering bespoke services such as SEO, PPC, and website design, they’ve played an instrumental role in boosting the online presence of many colleges, universities, trade schools, and junior colleges.

    Notably, their tailored approach to Kent State’s Executive MBA program yielded a substantial 135% increase in leads, exemplifying their commitment to tangible results.

    Sixth City Marketing, a higher education marketing agency, homepage
    Source: Sixth City Marketing

    3. OHO Interactive

    OHO Interactive higher education marketing agency Logo

    OHO Interactive

    Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Our Score

    4.5

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 1998

    Locations: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Number of Employees: 30-40

    KEY SERVICES

    • Website and CMS
    • Content Strategy
    • Digital Marketing
    • Full Funnel Digital Marketing
    • Capital Campaign Websites
    • User Research

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Cornell University
    • Dartmouth College
    • Columbia Law School
    • University of Oklahoma College of Law
    • Berklee College of Music
    • Samuel Merrit University
    • Babson College
    • Virginia Tech

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    OHO Interactive stands apart with its unique approach to understanding student journeys and ensuring genuine enrollments, not just leads.

    Their expertise in capital campaign drives, combined with a history of lauded collaborations, positions them as a top pick for higher education marketing.

    For over two decades, OHO Interactive has been at the forefront of higher education marketing, having collaborated with over 100 institutions.

    Hailing from Boston, MA, they have a rich history of understanding prospective student journeys, ensuring universities not just secure leads but achieve actual enrollments.

    In addition to their adeptness in digital marketing for student enrollments, they have carved a niche in running capital campaign drives.

    OHO Interactive’s prowess goes beyond the ordinary; they are an award-winning digital agency known for their expertise in digital strategy, research, website design, content strategy, and digital marketing.

    They have an impressive portfolio that boasts collaborations with prestigious institutions such as Dartmouth and Holy Cross.

    OHO Interactive higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: OHO Interactive

    4. Carnegie

    Carnegie higher education marketing agency Logo

    Carnegie

    Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Our Score

    4.6

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 1985

    Locations: Chicago, Illinois; and Westford, Massachusetts, USA

    Number of Employees: 201-500

    KEY SERVICES

    • Website Redesign
    • Content Strategy and Writing
    • Digital Marketing Strategy
    • User Research
    • User Testing
    • CMS and Website Development

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
    • Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
    • Northeastern College of Engineering
    • Park University
    • Elmhurst University
    • University of North Dakota

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Carnegie is renowned for creating genuine connections in the world of higher education marketing. By harnessing the principles of human psychology and blending them with innovative marketing and enrollment strategies, they craft unique narratives that resonate deeply with students.

    Previously known as mStoner and rebranded as Carnegie, this higher education marketing powerhouse has been a trailblazer in the domain since its inception.

    The Chicago-based agency that Michael Stoner founded has worked with over 300 colleges, universities, and educational institutions across the US since its founding in 2001.

    Recognized for its commitment to delivering full-scale website redesigns, authentic storytelling, content creation, and strategic digital communications, Carnegie’s portfolio speaks volumes about its expertise.

    Carnegie higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: Carnegie

    5. The Kor Group

    The kor group higher education marketing agency Logo

    The Kor Group

    Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Our Score

    4.5

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 1993

    Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

    Number of Employees: 2-10

    KEY SERVICES

    • Web Services
    • Integrated Communications Plans
    • Brand Positioning and Messaging
    • Brand Identity Program
    • Online Marketing Programs
    • User Experience Design

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Emerson College
    • UPenn School of Social Policy & Practice
    • Bancroft School
    • The Rivers Schools
    • Wentworth Institute of Technology
    • Union College

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    The Kor Group is more than just an agency; it is a creative powerhouse that understands the unique nuances and needs of higher education institutions.

    Their women-led team brings a fresh perspective, merging creativity with strategy to deliver results that matter.

    Based in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, the Kor Group has cemented its reputation as a pioneering force in the realm of higher education marketing.

    The creative team of brand strategists, designers, and developers at this women-owned agency stand out for having a single goal in mind: to create effective integrated admissions and advancement communication programs specifically for colleges, universities, and independent schools.

    Over the years, their dedication has resulted in transformative results, with a prime example being their seven-year collaboration with Emerson College.

    This partnership witnessed substantial growth in admissions, amplifying Emerson’s stature as a formidable liberal arts institution.

    With expertise spanning from brand strategy to environmental graphics, Kor has an impressive track record of helping institutions find their voice and resonate with their audience.

    The kor group higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: The Kor Group

    6. Paskill Stapleton & Lord

    Paskill Stapleton & Lord higher education marketing agency Logo

    Paskill Stapleton & Lord

    Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA

    Our Score

    4.5

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 1986

    Location: Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA

    Number of Employees: 51-200

    KEY SERVICES

    • Digital & Traditional Advertising
    • Brand & Creative Strategy
    • Market Research
    • Staff Development & Training
    • Multimedia Marketing
    • Enrollment Marketing
    • Visual Identity

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Manor College
    • Wayland Baptist University
    • Mitchell College
    • Marywood University
    • Pennsylvania College of Art & Design
    • Texas A&M University
    • United States Coast Guard Academy
    • Point Park University
    • Neumann University

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    PS&L’s legacy, spanning over three decades, is built on the cornerstone of innovative enrollment success. Their team, comprising seasoned professionals, is committed to understanding the unique challenges and aspirations of each institution.

    Paskill Stapleton & Lord (PS&L), based in Glenside, Pennsylvania, has specialized in “Enrollment Marketing for Higher Education” since 1986. Over the years, they have fostered relationships with a multitude of colleges and universities, offering services tailored to the specific needs of the higher education sector.

    Notably, PS&L was instrumental in guiding Neumann University’s transition from a college to a university, with an added positive impact on enrollment rates.

    Their approach integrates both strategy and creativity, ensuring that their clients receive comprehensive solutions to their marketing needs.

    Paskill Stapleton & Lord higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: Paskill Stapleton & Lord

    7. Up&Up

    Up&Up higher education marketing agency Logo

    Up&Up

    Greenville, South Carolina, USA

    Our Score

    4.4

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2002

    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, USA

    Number of Employees: 11-50

    KEY SERVICES

    • Brand Platforms
    • Creative Communications
    • Marketing Campaigns
    • Digital Experiences
    • Web Design & Development
    • Digital Media Buying
    • Social Media Strategy
    • Content Strategy and Development
    • Analytics & Campaign Measurement

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Auburn University
    • Campbell University
    • Clemson University
    • University of Georgia
    • University of Kentucky
    • Miami University
    • Florida State University
    • George Mason University

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Up&Up takes pride in being a part of Greenville’s thriving West End community. Their focused approach to helping institutions attract and retain the right-fit students, paired with their specialized marketing services, makes them a notable contender in the higher education marketing sphere.

    Adam Landrum, a former consultant with Arthur Andersen, founded Up&Up in 2002 and is based in Greenville, South Carolina.

    The Up&Up team’s motivation comes from the conviction that “education is the surest path to meaningful change” and that their marketing initiatives can direct potential students to their ideal institution.

    Over the years, they have worked with numerous higher education establishments, offering tailored marketing services and leveraging brand platforms, digital experiences, and creative communication strategies to achieve their clients’ goals.

    Up&Up higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: Up&Up

    8. eCity Interactive

    eCity Interactive higher education marketing agency Logo

    eCity Interactive

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

    Our Score

    4.4

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 1999

    Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

    Number of Employees: 11-50

    KEY SERVICES

    • Digital Strategy
    • UX Research & Testing
    • Content Creation
    • Web & App Design and Development
    • Digital Marketing
    • SEO
    • SEM/PPC
    • Social Media Marketing

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • University of Georgia
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • Rutgers University
    • George Washington University
    • Cornell University
    • Fordi University

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    eCity Interactive stands out for its commitment to design thinking and a client-centric approach. They believe in building strong, enduring relationships between clients and their audiences, laying the foundation for sustained digital success

    eCity Interactive, headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is renowned for its immersive approach to brand engagement.

    With a foundation laid in 1999, eCity’s specialty lies in website design, user research, and storytelling, crafting digital narratives that resonate deeply with target audiences. Their exceptional focus on inbound marketing and content sets them apart in the higher education sector.

    Institutions looking to bolster recruitment or philanthropic initiatives can benefit from their unique expertise and innovative strategies.

    Over the years, prestigious institutions such as George Washington University, UPenn, Rutgers, and more have partnered with eCity to develop standout digital campaigns.

    eCity Interactive higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: eCity Interactive

    9. Creative Communication Associates

    Creative Communication Associates higher education marketing agency Logo

    Creative Communication Associates

    Troy, New York, USA

    Our Score

    4.3

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 1983

    Location: Troy, New York, USA

    Number of Employees: 10-20

    KEY SERVICES

    • Brand Development & Positioning
    • Institutional & Athletic Identity
    • Design & Creative Services
    • Media Planning & Buying
    • Web Design & Development
    • Content Marketing
    • Enrollment Marketing

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Thomas Jefferson University
    • Wheaton College (IL)
    • Siena College
    • The New York School of Interior Design
    • Moore College of Art & Design
    • Alfred University
    • Elizabethtown College
    • St. Mary’s College of Maryland

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    CCA’s undivided attention to the higher education sector has cultivated a deep understanding of its nuances and intricacies.

    Their broad exposure, ranging from Ivy League schools to specialized institutions, has armed them with a unique vantage point, making them a sought-after partner in higher ed marketing.

    Creative Communication Associates (CCA), established in 1983 and based in Troy, NY, is a distinguished marketing agency singularly focused on higher education.

    An integral part of Noodle, CCA boasts an illustrious history of collaborating with diverse academic institutions, from private colleges to grand public universities, HBCUs, Ivy League establishments, and specialized schools.

    A dedicated core team of seasoned strategists and a network of highly strategic and creative associates from all over the country support their national reputation for customized creative and marketing solutions.

    At CCA, the emphasis on a bespoke, consultative approach ensures that each solution is tailored and a unique reflection of the institution’s brand.

    Creative Communication Associates higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: Creative Communication Associates

    10. Edufficient

    Edufficient higher education marketing agency Logo

    Edufficient

    Paramus, New Jersey, USA

    Our Score

    4.4

     

    AGENCY SNAPSHOT

    Founded: 2008

    Location: Paramus, New Jersey; and Rochester, New York, USA

    Number of Employees: 30-40

    KEY SERVICES

    • Digital Media Management
    • Paid Search Management
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Email Marketing Automation
    • Compliance Monitoring Services
    • Third Party Inquiry Management
    • Social Media Marketing

    NOTEWORTHY CLIENTS

    • Not Listed

    WHY CHOOSE THEM?

    Edufficient’s unique selling proposition lies in their innovative mix of data-driven strategies, creativity, and in-depth experience in higher education.

    Their commitment to yielding tangible results is further highlighted by their acquisition by PX in 2022, which is known for bringing together the creme de la creme of lead buyers and sellers in a unified marketplace.

    Founded in 2008 by David Flack and Tom Ferarra, Edufficient stands out as a performance-driven marketing agency that holds specialization in higher education.

    With its headquarters in Paramus, New Jersey, the agency has consistently been at the forefront of evolving advanced higher education marketing strategies.

    Their modus operandi revolves around fostering partnerships with educational institutions and inquiry providers to push the boundaries of what marketing can achieve in the education sector.

    Edufficient higher education marketing agency Homepage
    Source: Edufficient

    How to Work With a Higher Education Marketing Agency

    Navigating the complexities of higher education marketing is no small feat. This becomes increasingly evident when institutions in the USA, with their distinct ethos and aspirations, seek to partner with a marketing agency effectively.

    Whether you’re an Ivy League university, a community college, or a niche institution, aligning with the right agency can significantly elevate your branding and outreach. But how does one establish and nurture this partnership?

    Here’s a roadmap for institutions looking to collaborate with a higher education marketing agency in the USA:

    Identify Your Needs

    Before diving into the vast ocean of agencies, reflect on your institution’s needs. Are you looking to boost domestic enrollments, tap into international markets, or revamp your digital presence? The more precise your objectives, the better you can align with the best higher education marketing agency suited to your requirements.

    Research and Shortlist

    Once you’ve pinpointed your needs, embark on research. Look for agencies with a proven track record in the education sector. Check their portfolios, case studies, and client testimonials. Your goal is to find an agency that understands the nuances of academic marketing.

    Digital Proficiency

    Given our digital age, ensure your chosen agency has a robust online marketing strategy. A higher education digital marketing agency should be well-versed in leveraging SEO, PPC campaigns, social media, and even emerging platforms like virtual campus tours or AI-driven chatbots.

    PPC helps SEO infographic
    Source: Data Box

    Communication is Key

    Marketing is an ongoing process, not a one-off project. Choose an agency with whom you can establish clear communication channels. Regular check-ins, transparent feedback loops, and a willingness to adapt are essential for long-term success.

    Budgeting and ROI

    Every institution has budgetary constraints. The enrollment marketing agency you partner with should be transparent about costs and potential additional expenses and provide a precise forecast of the return on investment. Ensure that every dollar spent translates into tangible results, be it increased enrollments, better brand visibility, or improved student engagement.

    Collaborative Approach

    A fruitful partnership thrives on collaboration. Your institution brings domain expertise and a unique ethos. The agency has marketing prowess. Foster an environment where both parties actively collaborate, share insights, and work cohesively towards common objectives.

    Review and Adapt

    The world of marketing is ever-evolving. What worked last semester might be less effective now. Regularly review campaign performance with your agency, seeking data-driven insights and being open to strategy shifts when required.

    How to Work With a Higher Education Marketing Agency

    To effectively partner with a higher education marketing agency in the USA, institutions must identify precise needs, conduct thorough research, and ensure the agency’s digital savvy. Key elements include transparent communication, budgetary clarity, and a collaborative approach. Regularly reviewing strategies and adapting to evolving trends ensures the relationship remains fruitful and drives the institution’s success.

    Final Thoughts on Selecting the Best Higher Education Marketing Agency

    In the multifaceted world of higher education, the right marketing approach isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential.

    With unique challenges at every turn, institutions greatly benefit from the specialized touch of a higher education marketing agency. Their expertise, combined with an institution’s vision, can craft campaigns that truly resonate.

    If you’re seeking to elevate your institution’s outreach and enrollment, there’s no better time than now.

    Dive into the realm of specialized marketing, collaborate with agencies adept at navigating this sector, and watch as your institution’s narrative reaches new heights. The pathway to your institution’s next big achievement starts with that crucial connection. Why wait?

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a higher education marketing agency?

    A higher education marketing agency specializes in creating and executing marketing strategies tailored for colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. They understand the unique challenges and nuances of the education sector, helping institutions enhance their brand visibility, boost enrollments, and effectively engage with their target audience. For a comprehensive understanding of their role and benefits, have a look at the full article.

    Do you need to market a college?

    Absolutely! In today's competitive educational landscape, marketing is crucial for colleges to distinguish themselves, attract potential students, and showcase their offerings and strengths. Marketing not only enhances enrollment numbers but also solidifies an institution's reputation and brand value. Explore the full article to grasp the significance of marketing in higher education.

    Which is the best higher education marketing agency?

    While there are several reputable agencies in the field, Vital stands out as a top higher education marketing agency due to its innovative strategies and proven track record. However, numerous other agencies excel in specific areas and might be better suited for particular institutions. To discover more about Vital and other leading agencies, check out the detailed insights in the full article.

    References

    Tech Target: What is K-12 education?

    The Journal: Overall U.S. Education Market to Hit $1.96 Trillion by 2025 — THE Journal

    Search Engine Journal: 15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO

    Investopedia: Augmented Reality (AR) Defined, With Examples and Uses