The Best Higher Ed Marketing Conferences for 2018

Article at a Glance:

  1. The Carnegie Conference
  2. 2018 Higher Ed Analytics Conference
  3. The DRIVE/ Conference
  4. UPCEA 2018 Annual Conference—Marketing, Enrollment, and Student Services Track
  5. CASE Social Media Community Conference
  6. Higher Ed Summit 2018
  7. The Annual University of Illinois Webcon
  8. Annual Conference on Marketing and Branding
  9. Connect Higher Education Conference
  10. ContentEd
  11. 2018 National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention
  12. 2018 EduWeb Digital Summit
  13. HighEdWeb
  14. 2018 Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education

Marketing in the higher ed landscape presents unique challenges and, as a result, requires equally unique strategies. A national decrease in applicants and increase in educational opportunities means you will need to take bold steps forward in how you connect with prospective students. Higher education conferences and seminars can be a great opportunity to both gain real insights on the challenges unique to higher ed and the immediate and long-term strategies you can implement to overcome them.

As you hear from industry leaders and connect with like-minded higher ed marketers, you’ll come away with renewed knowledge and energy to position your institution’s brand where it belongs—at the top of every applicant’s list. Ready to gain some exciting new strategies for connecting with your audience? Here are 14 of the best higher education conferences to attend in 2018.

1. The 2018 Carnegie Conference

January 17-18, 2018 | Orlando, Fla.

What it is: This year’s Carnegie Conference explores the critical connection between marketing strategy and recruitment. You will hear from a curated collection of higher ed and marketing industry leaders speak on important topics like how to implement today’s top strategic marketing plans to tell your school’s story effectively and, as a result, increase enrollment.

Why it made the list: Considered by many to be the most prestigious higher ed marketing conference on the circuit, the Carnegie Conference offers keynote sessions and breakouts that address a mix of traditional and digital marketing tools, allowing you to walk away the insights you need to make your marketing campaigns a success.

2. 2018 Higher Ed Analytics Conference

February 14, 2018 | Online

What it is: If you want to learn more about digital analytics in higher education—and how to use data to make important decisions for your institution—this entirely online conference is right up your alley. Through a dozen 10-minute sessions presented by higher ed professionals and an interactive Q&A, you will discover how to make sense of your institution’s analytics and apply it in ways that actually advance your school. On a practical level, you will learn how to effectively use Google Tag Manager, engage stakeholders with website and social media analytics, conduct A/B testing through Google Optimize, and more.

Why it made the list: What’s more convenient than gleaning practical digital marketing and technical skills in the comfort of your own home or office? In addition to being fully remote, this conference offers uniquely short but powerful keynotes. Though only 10 minutes in length, each session is crafted by experts to provide analytics solutions for real higher ed issues with the aim of empowering you to make data-driven decisions to move your school forward.

3. The DRIVE/ Conference

February 27-28, 2018 | Seattle/Bellevue, Wash.

What it is: Every year, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) hosts the DRIVE/ Conference to help professionals across industries advance and leverage their knowledge of data, including reporting, information, analytics, modeling, and visualization. Four keynote sessions will enlighten you on how big data impacts the world’s most innovative companies, how to favorably position yourself and your organization in negotiations, how artificial intelligence is changing the landscape of modern work, and how to boost your school’s ability to impact others.

Why it made the list: Equal parts technical deep dives and inspiring storytelling, the DRIVE/ Conference offers best-in-class content designed to equip and inspire you with all the tools you need to use data to your institution’s advantage.

4. UPCEA 2018 Annual Conference—Marketing, Enrollment, and Student Services Track

March 14-16, 2018 | Baltimore, Md.

What it is: Every year, university leaders gather at the UPCEA Annual Conference. The general conference, made up of engaging keynote speakers and concurrent sessions alongside opportunities to network with those in your field, covers topics like federal policy, finance, instructional design, and alternative credentialing. You’ll learn from other higher ed marketers and student services professionals how to develop strategic enrollment management plans and dashboards, how to implement marketing strategies aimed at emerging niche markets, and what it takes to create a more engaging student services experience.

Why it made the list: This conference, known as the most significant assembly of professional, continuing, and online education fields, also offers a unique marketing track with targeted sessions addressing the growing need to attract, serve, and retain learners and provide tangible insights for attracting and serving diverse, rapidly changing target audiences.

5. CASE Social Media and Community Conference

March 14-16, 2018 | New Orleans, La.

What it is: Social media evolves quickly, and to stay on the cutting edge, you’ll want to hear from the experts. The 2018 CASE Social Media and Community Conference offers tactical advice and big-picture insights on how to leverage social media for higher ed communications. Beyond simply learning how to effectively engage with constituents, you’ll explore how to strategically tell stories on social media and align your content strategy with your long-term goals.

Why it made the list: Designed specifically for newcomers in the advancement field and higher ed professionals with mid- and senior-level responsibility, this conference has a unique two-track structure that provides both introductory and advanced content for those with more experience. Also unique to the CASE Social Media Conference is Social Media 101 is a pre-conference workshop created to help higher-ed marketers get strategic with social media so they can leverage it for specific communication purposes.

6. Higher Ed Summit 2018

March 21-23, 2018 | Washington D.C.

What it is: This year, Salesforce will host its sixth Higher Ed Summit in conjunction with The University of Texas System. Over the course of three power-packed days, you’ll hear from higher ed and marketing/sales thought leaders at breakouts and workshops about how to personalize the education experience in a way that meets every student’s needs and implement effective marketing and advancement strategies. Topics include marketing, technology and social media, community and campus engagement, and leadership in higher ed.

Why it made the list: In addition to three days of addressing a broad range of marketing strategies, this conference comes with a cherry on top (pun intended!): It happens to align with D.C.’s renowned Cherry Blossom Festival.

7. The 19th Annual University of Illinois Webcon

April 4-6, 2018 | Urbana-Champaign, Ill.

What it is: A three-day conference designed just for higher ed web designers, developers, social media marketers, and content managers, the U of I Webcon gathers top-notch speakers with game-changing insights on the relationship between the web and marketing and how they work together to reach prospective students.

This year, you’ll hear from 40+ higher ed tech and marketing leaders on subjects like leadership, productivity, creativity, SEO, CSS, social media ads, code testing, and more. With a combination of both personal development and tech-driven talks, you’ll come away with an abundance of new strategies and skills to make your long-term goals happen. Keep in mind that this is another one you’ll want to opt into early, as the conference regularly maintains a waiting list.

Why it made the list: The U of I Webcon is much more affordable than some of the other conferences, but offers similarly strong content in important marketing topics, making it a great investment for your institution.

8. Annual Conference on Marketing and Branding

June 4-6, 2018 | Denver, Colo.

What it is: CASE, the same organization that hosts The DRIVE/ Conference, hosts the Annual Conference on Marketing and Branding, which is all about building successful brands for your institution. At this three-day gathering, you’ll learn how to start and sustain the process of creating a strong brand, how to measure your brand’s impact, and how to develop inspiring creative work that supports your marketing efforts. Specific benefits of attending include learning how to move seamlessly from data to creative components of your process, how to choose the best marketing research for your brain, how to win over your president or chancellor, and how to integrate your brand across your institution.

Why it made the list: This conference offers more advanced content because it’s specifically designed with mid- to senior-level marketers in mind—anyone responsible for school branding initiatives is encouraged to attend.

9. Connect Higher Education Conference

June 12-13, 2018 | Louisville, Ky.

What it is: Are you ready to ignite sustainable, lasting growth at your school? That’s what this year’s Connected Higher Education Conference, hosted by online degree program website Learning House, is all about. Through a lineup of keynote speakers (still TBD), you will discover how to take advantage of technology in your marketing efforts and how to understand student needs to drive innovation—all so you can bring sustainable growth to your institution.

Why it made the list: Though it’s much more affordable than many other conferences of its kind, Connect doesn’t compromise on its content. For a reasonable cost, you can still hear from industry-shaping professions about how to leverage emerging trends in the higher ed space.

10. ContentEd

June 14-15, 2018 | London, UK

A higher ed conference can offer unique insights that will empower your marketing efforts, whether you attend on your own computer or venture across the Atlantic.

What it is: This two-day event is focused on how to improve your school’s content branding efforts. Content strategists and marketers from universities and agencies will share practical ways to make your content work “harder and smarter” for your school so you can effectively and efficiently engage your audience, and, ultimately, exceed your enrollment and development goals. Anyone who works in higher ed marketing, web management, social media, communications, recruitment, or development is welcome to attend!

Why it made the list: Europe’s only education content strategy conference, ContentEd, brings in content strategists and marketers with unique perspectives on marketing from around the world.

11. 2018 National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention

July 24-26, 2018 | Orlando, Fla.

What it is: If you want to home in on marketing with an enrollment and recruitment focus, this comprehensive gathering, put on by technology-enabled enrollment and fundraising services company Ruffalo Noel Levitzin, is for you. Through keynotes and breakout sessions, you’ll have many opportunities to glean practical strategies for attracting and sustaining students at your institution. The agenda and final speaker list isn’t yet available but is expected in early 2018.

Why it made the list: The vast number of learning opportunities at this conference—it has special tracks that include 150+ sessions in enrollment management, student success, and fundraising—make it a great choice for anyone trying to attract and retain students.

12. 2018 EduWeb Digital Summit

July 23-25, 2018 | San Diego, Calif.

What it is: Discover how to push the boundaries of higher education and revolutionize its digital space this summer in San Diego. Hosted by eduWeb, a community of education communications professionals, this conference brings together higher ed professionals who want to bring proven web initiatives back to their campus.

Why it made the list: If you attend, you’ll be able to choose from five tracks including content and email marketing, web tools and hacks, data and analytics, and web/mobile design and strategy. You also have the opportunity to register for a three-hour workshop session designed to help you develop specific digital skills.

13. HighEdWeb

October 21-24, 2018 | Sacramento, Calif.

What it is: This four-day conference in Sacramento is held by HighEdWeb, an association dedicated to mapping the future of higher ed websites by equipping web professionals with the tools they need. Every year, the conference gathers industry leaders for a number of enriching keynotes and breakout sessions along with opportunities to connect and network with other higher ed professionals. The agenda and final speaker list isn’t yet available but is expected in early 2018.

Why it made the list:  On top of its enriching educational opportunities, HighEdWeb makes a unique effort to connect attendees with one another, so you’ll be able to form relationships with other professionals that last year round.

14. 2018 Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education

November 4-7, 2018 | Orlando, Fla.

What it is: The AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education aims to make your marketing efforts easier by connecting you with 1,200+ higher ed marketers who are working through the same challenges as you—all over the course of three educational and inspiring days in Orlando. The conference website recommends registering ASAP, as the admission fee will increase on January 1, 2018.

Why it made the list: At this popular gathering for marketers in higher ed, you’ll gain fresh insights on how to engage your target audience, hear best marketing practices from higher ed leaders, and hear success stories you can replicate at your own institution.

A higher ed conference can offer unique insights that will empower your marketing efforts, whether you attend via your own computer or venture across the country to attend in person. By breaking down silos and expanding your perspective on how to connect with prospective students, you can ensure all your marketing initiatives move you toward your long-term goals.

The Bottom Line

The conferences will do a great job of introducing you to the ins and outs of marketing in higher ed but will likely leave you hungry for more. At the end of the day, your job is to find prospective students and entice them with your school’s list of academic, social, and cultural offerings. It’s not an easy task but hopefully our advice on understanding the college student journey will help.