10 Best Higher Ed Marketing Agencies You HAVE to Know About | 2024 Update

kacper staniul
Curated by Kacper Staniul

According to recent data by National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment saw a growth of 1.2 percent (+176,000) in fall 2023, marking the first increase since the pandemic.

But, as the availability, quality, and affordability of online courses continue to improve, it's becoming increasingly challenging for universities to attract and enroll students.

In many cases, higher education institutions will need to partner with specialized marketing agencies to stay competitive and maintain enrollment numbers.

To help you find the right partner for your institution, we've curated a list of some of the top higher ed marketing agencies.

Let's dive in.

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Founded year:
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

ED is a niche, full-service marketing agency focused on helping higher education institutions reach the right students, faculty, staff, and donors.

They're experts in community engagement, reputation management, and recruitment campaigns and have worked with clients like Lakehead University, the University of Manitoba, and Queen’s University.

Lakehead University saw an 8.9% increase in enrollments thanks to ED's social media campaign.

ED's “Trailblazer” campaign for the University of Manitoba got four awards from the CCAE Prix d’Excellence, and three wins at the 2012 CASE District VIII Communication Awards. It was then used for seven years after the initial launch.<"">David Petis, Executive Director at Red River College Polytechnic, was full of praise for ED and said their strategic alignment work has amplified the impact of his initiatives through integrated planning and marketing campaigns.

Founded year:
Alexandria, Virginia, United States

SimpsonScarborough is a full-service agency laser-focused on branding and marketing for higher education companies.

With a long history of working with colleges and universities, they offer services that include market research, brand strategy, creative design, digital solutions, and media planning.

They have worked with clients like Cal Poly Humboldt where they increased campus-wide buy-in for the brand and demonstrated the importance of marketing. With Wittenberg University and the University of Montana, SimpsonScarborough developed strategies that combined creative and digital to increase brand awareness and engagement.

And let's not forget their work for Boise State University which increased their client's brand awareness by 28%.

Other notable clients from their 300+ brand portfolio include Cornell University (strategy, creative, and digital projects), Duke University (help with research strategy), and UCB (research and strategy).

Founded year:
Boston, Massachusetts, United States

OHO Interactive is one of the top higher education digital marketing agencies with over 25 years of experience, that has worked with more than 180 colleges and universities.

They create enrollment marketing campaigns through paid media, SEO, and on-site conversion tactics.

Clients include Miami Business School, where they filled 30 seats in a new MBA program in five months with paid search and LinkedIn campaigns, Champlain College Online, which saw a 50% increase in leads from organic search after the website relaunch, and Pace University that got 22% more leads since working with OHO.

OHO's approach covers the entire customer journey and uses data and analytics to continuously optimize campaigns.

Clients mostly praise them for transparent partnerships, experienced strategists, and quality over quantity lead gen.

Founded year:
Boston, Massachusetts, United States

OnCampus Advertising is a college marketing & events agency that helps brands reach college students effectively.

With 20 years of experience, OCA delivers budget-friendly campus programs (online and offline) that reach students across North America. They offer digital media, social media, email marketing, out-of-home advertising, and event sponsorships where students live, work, study, and play.

OnCampus Advertising works with advertising agencies, universities, and startups to reach the collegiate audience for branding, recruiting, product launches, and more.

Some notable brands include Kellogg's, Dunkin’, Uber, and Gillette.

For Kellogg's, OnCampus Advertising organized 25 campus events that hosted over 1,000 each and brought tons of buzz and engagement. Dunkin’s mobile app campaign resulted in over 350k students reached across 23 college campuses.</</

Founded year:
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA

This full-service, higher education digital marketing agency combines time-tested strategies with future-focused approaches that reach tomorrow’s students where they live and breathe.

As enrollment numbers decline and prospective students change the way they search for, engage with, and decide which colleges and universities to attend, Vital is a leader in website design, brand strategy, and digital marketing for some of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in the US.

The secret to their clients’ success lies in four simple but often overlooked principles of higher education marketing: be relevant, be authentic, be inspirational, and be everywhere. Those principles underlie everything Vital does, from brand messaging to website design, paid digital media strategy, content marketing, and more.

The result is more brand awareness and website traffic, more social media engagement, more inquiries and leads, more high-intent applications, and ultimately, more right-fit students who are prepared to thrive at your institution.

Some of their 35+ higher ed clients include the University of San Diego, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts.

Founded year:
Tampa, Florida, United States

Founded by Adrian Marrullier, Sextant Marketing is a higher ed marketing agency with a single goal: help universities get more enrollments.

Since 2015, they’ve worked with over 25 higher education institutions and brought over 10k students with their marketing campaigns.

Some of their success stories include the University of Virginia for whom Sextant increased paid search enrollments by over 580%, and a 170% year-over-year increase in spring freshman enrollment for Kentucky State University using email, phone, and direct mail.

Founded year:
Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Founded and led by Diane Sutton, VisionPoint Marketing helps higher education institutions with all of their marketing needs. From integrated marketing to website redesigns, campaign management, creative services, SEO, and CRM consulting, they've got you covered.

Having worked with universities, community colleges, graduate programs, and state systems for over 20 years, they have domain expertise like no other agency.

They're also a Google and Slate premier partner and have results to prove it. In one of their recent projects, VisionPoint got 323 keywords on the first page of Google for National University which resulted in over $1M incremental conversion value from student enrollments. For Loyola University Chicago, they grew organic traffic by a staggering 3,845%.

They've got a lot more success stories like the ones below, so it's safe to say they're a sure bet when it comes to SEO for higher ed companies.

Founded year:
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Founded by Philippe Taza, Higher Education Marketing (HEM) helps K-12 schools, language programs, universities, and colleges solve their recruitment challenges.

Since 2008, HEM’s multilingual team has been offering a range of digital marketing services including inbound marketing, paid advertising, email marketing, website design and development, and international student recruitment. They also offer consulting services such as digital marketing audits and HubSpot consulting.

HEM has worked with educational institutions in Canada, the US, and Europe.

Their data-driven approach has helped clients like Webster University Geneva increase enrollment by 30%, and Cumberland College get over 35% more sales leads. Let's not forget their engagement with Griffith College, Ireland's largest independent college, which led to a 20% year-over-year increase in registered learners.

Founded year:
Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Orion is one of the best marketing agencies that specializes in the education industry.

They help online course creators, edtech companies, higher education institutions, and event organizers drive demand for their services at scale. They do it through ad campaigns on Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Google Ads, SEO, content marketing, landing pages, email marketing, and CRO.

They’ve worked with companies such as Studyforfe, Udacity, Product Gym, and Pinnacle Performance.

For Studyforfe, Orion grew revenue by 10x in two years through demand generation. For Pinnacle Performance, they handled all paid media campaigns, from strategy to creative and messaging testing, relieving their team of tons of work and letting them focus on scaling other acquisition channels instead.

Unlike most marketing agencies, they're transparent about their pricing which starts at $2,000/month for early-stage companies starting out with paid media.

Founded year:
England, United Kingdom

Waterfall is an award-winning creative agency for higher education marketing founded by former Havas (one of the largest marketing communications agencies in the world) employees.

Their team of strategists, designers, copywriters, and multimedia storytellers provide services focusing on student recruitment, course marketing, research promotion, and academic storytelling. Some of the main marketing channels they use to achieve that are broadcast, digital media, print, and outdoor.

Some of their clients include the University of Manchester, where Waterfall created a lively and honest Postgraduate Research campaign that brought all PGR information together in one place, and Universities UK International for whom they achieved 10M+ reach and 150k+ engagements on social media.

Their exceptional creative work in the higher education sector has been rewarded by The PIEoneer Awards (Marketing Campaign of the Year in 2023), Heist Awards (Best Brand/Reputation Campaign in 2023), CIPR Awards (Best Education Campaign in 2023), and many more.

Founded year:
London, England, United Kingdom

Seed is the UK’s top university marketing agency that works with both local and international clients.

They specialize in the student and youth market and create both long-term and short, targeted initiatives at key moments in the academic year, focusing on genuine engagement and measurable results for brands.

Their team includes strategy, creative development, social media management, production, and staffing specialists.

Seed's portfolio includes work with big brands like Spotify, Bumble, ASOS, Prime Video, and Lululemon.

Events organized for Bumble reached 70k+ students offline and another 430k online. Spotify saw a staggering 56.7M reach of their @SpotifyUK handle thanks to 14 events organized by Seed. And then, there was the engagement with Lululemon that resulted in 75M+ social media reach.

Wrapping up + extra tip

In a nutshell, choosing the right marketing agency for your higher education institution can significantly boost your visibility and enrollments. The agencies we've highlighted above have proven track records in the field, delivering effective strategies tailored to the unique needs of each client. They're top-notch choices to consider if you want your institution to stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Remember, it's not just about picking any agency; it's about selecting one that understands the intricacies of higher ed marketing. With their experience and innovative approaches, these agencies can help you navigate the digital landscape and reach prospective students more effectively. Whichever agency you choose, ensure they align with your goals and values to foster a successful partnership.

P.S. if have the resources to run your own marketing campaigns, you have to give Scrapbook a try. With 200+ growth tactic ideas for every step of the funnel, you'll never run out of ideas again.
And if you run an agency and would like to be included in this list, you can apply here to get verified.

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