Traditional + Digital: A Winning Combination

September 8, 2016

Traditional + Digital: A Winning Combination

tag creative design | digital marketing | digital media | digital strategy for higher ed | higher education | higher education website design
Traditional + Digital: A Winning Combination

It wasn’t that long ago that some (yours truly included) predicted the death of print at the hands of digital. But today when the two mediums work closely together, it can be a killer combination, especially for higher ed marketing.

But let’s start with an unfortunate truth. For many higher marketing teams, silos are the status quo. While the web team is off doing their thing, creating departmental websites and amazing drone videos, the print team diligently designs view books, brochures and direct mail campaigns. At best their efforts are on brand, but too often, they’re addressing the same audience with disparate messages.

What if the two mediums worked together to create an impactful integrated campaign? Marketing teams for consumer product brands are leading the way by working closely together to do just that, especially to gain a foothold in the hearts and fleeting minds of millennials. Here are just a few examples of creative, integrated traditional + digital campaigns that caught our attention — and a few multi-channel inspirations of our own.



College & university admissions still rely heavily on print collateral. It’s a longstanding tradition to send off your application and then wait nervously for weeks, while checking the mailbox daily for that acceptance letter. Old school, right? Well, a growing trend among college admissions offices is to include a social media component to acceptance letters. Indiana University, for instance, sends newly accepted students a large crimson envelope with the hashtag #IUsaidYes, encouraging them to snap a pic and post it to Twitter, facebook and/or Instagram:


Medium Swap

NetFlix recently launched an out-of-home campaign, taking what is traditionally a print medium into the digital realm by leveraging Snapchat’s face swapping technology. Passersby can snap a pic and swap faces with their favorite House of Cards or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt character. What if you built a similar campaign on campus allowing students and fans to swap faces with the school mascot?


Geo Fun

Snapchat recently launched their own clever interactive out-of-home campaign aimed at its users. Billboards featuring the artwork of snapchat user geofilters are popping up all over high profile neighborhoods in major metropolitan areas.

Imagine a billboard, bus shelter ad, or even a series of posters around campus that subtly tell students and/or visitors where Snapchapt geofilters are available. Or what if you gamified campus tours by mailing out a campus map that shows a series of geofilter landmarks and encourage visiting students to join a Snapchat geofilter scavenger hunt?


Memory Book

Instagram is absolutely crushing it with over 300 million users — many of whom are current or aspiring college students. Of course some colleges and universities are doing a better job than others at engaging their followers.

You could encourage students on campus for a tour to post images of their day using a predetermined hashtag. Then a few days after they get back home, they get a little surprise in the mail — a printed scrapbook of their on-campus adventure.

There are a number of services popping up online that allow Instagram users to create scrapbooks. For instance, ChatBooks will create a custom-printed 6” x 6” scrapbook up 60 pages for as low as $8.

Word(s) to the wise

There are a lot of promising possibilities for integrating traditional mediums with digital marketing channels. So many, it can be daunting. And while we encourage experimentation, the endless possibilities doesn’t give higher ed marketing teams a license to go rogue. The best, most successful campaigns are part of a well thought-out content strategy. So before you start plotting and scheming your next big integrated marketing campaign, keep these tips in mind.

Go Loud and Simple

A lesson we learned a while back is that to get the attention of an 16 -22 year old, you have to be bold and loud. And most importantly, if you want engagement, you have to make it simple. Don’t make them think, because they won’t.

Build a Roadmap

One-off campaigns can be fun and exciting. Even wildly successful. But then what? At the risk of sounding like a broken (analog) record, take the time to truly integrate any digital, traditional, or multi-medium campaign into the larger marketing scheme. How will the campaign affect existing campaigns? What can it replace?

Great Content Wins the Day

While we encourage creatively integrating digital and traditional marketing channels, it’s not about the channels. It’s about creation & curation of great content and consistent messaging. Don’t get caught up in checking the boxes and/or forcing a not-so-creative idea into multiple channels just because you can.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you tried multi-channel campaigns that marry traditional and digital in your higher ed marketing? What have you learned?