Framing the Future
As we stand at the brink of 2024, ERI is poised to unveil insights that are set to shape the digital marketing landscape. After a transformative year that saw the rise of generative AI and the reshaping of digital interactions, we are peering over the horizon, eager to share our bold predictions for the upcoming year.
With a keen eye on emerging technologies and shifting consumer trends, Team ERI believes that the future is not merely predicted, but actively shaped.
Q: In 2024, what challenges and opportunities will institutions face?
Raffi DerSimonian, VP & Chief Strategy Officer
In 2023, there was no shortage of discussion on the impending enrollment cliff. Though advancements in artificial intelligence present a false dichotomy for an institution being either ahead of the innovation adoption curve or left in the dust, what will be of most importance to institutions is mastery of basic principles of higher-education web design, such as visual storytelling and providing intuitive, action-oriented user experiences. Institutions will grapple with the fundamental challenge of succinctly articulating their value proposition and curating stories that both elevate the student voice and illustrate their lived experiences.
Q: How will AI continue to impact the field of digital marketing?
Erjon Metohu, President & Chief Creative Officer
For digital marketers, considering the external environment (e.g., political, social, technological, and legal factors) will be paramount so that their products or services do not become obsolete in an Age of AI. Through artificial intelligence, the supply of generic content will continually skyrocket and the demand for content that specifically speaks to the needs and pain-points of consumers will steadily increase. AI will continue to drive process systemization (think: sending AI-tailored emails to students based on previous interactions) and customization (think: chatbots that speak in your organization’s brand voice).
Q: As the student population continues to diversify, how will institutions adjust in conveying the student experience?
Hadley Camilus, DEI Champion & Consulting Partner
There has been a saying for a while in higher education that “diversity is everyone’s business.” For a long time, I felt like it was a hollow proclamation that institutions must live up to now. Schools have to lean into how they cultivate diversity and share that information with every prospective student, not just the marginalized students. They will have to weave that messaging into every touch point with prospective students so that there is a shared understanding of how culture is celebrated, and how “bridges” are forged in the community, while also communicating the value of earning a degree at that particular institution.
Q: To stand out in 2024, what should content managers consider for their SEO strategies?
Hannah Speer, Project Manager & SEO Strategist
Google has made lots of big changes over the past few years. As we approach 2024, Google now expects content to go above and beyond user intent. In the 2024 search landscape, the SEO campaigns that will be the most successful will be rooted in providing an ideal content experience.
Content specialists need to think about each page’s role and identity within the website and how these pages influence the conversion. Further, they should tailor the page’s content specifically to meet user demand. What are people actually looking for? How does this page meet their search query? 2024 will be about understanding and studying how users engage with content.
Q: How will institutions craft messages and experiences that resonate with Generations Z & Alpha?
Myles Forgue, Marketing Associate
By 2060, the US labor force is estimated to be older, more diverse, and more educated (Deloitte) Young people are increasingly likely to graduate from high school and pursue a bachelor’s degree, and further educational attainment (i.e. continuing education) of adult learners will present the opportunity and challenge of enticing the unconventional student. Nonetheless, amidst the effort to rationally persuade the disillusioned prospective students of Gen Z on the ROI of an undergraduate education, higher-ed marketers will capitalize on the social dimensions of education as key ‘evidence points’ for members of Gen Alpha, whose socialization and education were dramatically impacted by COVID and immersion in the digital world from an early onset. As we continue to understand what is shaping Gen Alpha’s identity, we predict that messaging on novel experiences, tradition, social life, and technological mastery will appeal to them.
Q: How will organizations leverage social media in 2024?
Jillian Cote, Marketing Associate
Within the last few years, we’ve witnessed a shift from active “social” interaction being at the forefront of each platform’s central role to a necessity of creating entertaining, trend-aligning content.
Despite these movements and the growing addition of AI-generated content, social media audiences often still search for authenticity in the content they consume. To leverage AI correctly while recognizing audience preferences, it is imperative that organizations remain consistent in the use of a genuine voice that echoes personalized interactions with their audience.
This intentionality may be achieved through the use of interactive video content that effectively entertains and informs with a blend of AI tools (consider CapCut video templates) and organic content from the organization itself. Working with AI as a partner rather than the boss will allow organizations to leverage brand individuality and grant their audience an opportunity to join the conversation rather than witness a one-way line of communication.
Q: What design trends will dominate the higher education landscape?
Ryan Barry, Lead Designer
In 2024, prospective students will resonate most deeply with websites that offer personalized, mobile-first experiences. More than ever, they will prioritize institutions that reflect their commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, even at the design level. Expectations for the quality visualization of information, data, and stories will go from the homepage all the way down to the academic program page. Information ought to be stackable and digestible, made so through micro animations and dynamic components that are easy on the eye and mind alike.
Further, institutions will be challenged to create responsive designs that utilize PWA (progressive web app) technology and AI-driven personalization. Together, these will support a user experience that elevates the ethos and pathos of an institution’s value claim.
We’re looking forward to seeing how these predictions shape up in 2024, and – as always – look forward to your thoughts and feedback.