Introduction to Ad Astra Institute
Formulate a Digital Marketing Strategy for an existing Organisation.
Current business mission, strategy and operations
The major aim of Ad Astra Institute is to offer expert knowledge and hand-on experience to the students for prospering their career in culinary arts and hospitality (Adastra.edu.au 2017). The concerned organization also offer world class facility, student support facility, expert teaching staffs, pathway to learning higher and farm experienced along with the homestay accommodations (Adastra.edu.au 2017). The prime reason behind this strategy is to improve the market value of the students so that they can find a suitable employment in hospitality sector. Moreover, the aim behind providing student support facility is to offer comfort especially to the international student and they endow the students with this facility through homestay accommodation through the Australian Homestay Network (AHN) (Adastra.edu.au 2017).
Company operates, industry trends, major competitors, client strengths and weaknesses in relation to major competitors
Ad Astra Institute operates their education services through two campuses- Melbourne City Campus and South Melbourne Campus (Adastra.edu.au 2017). In Melbourne City Campus, the classes are conducted and the location is convenient for all the students. It is near the iconic Southern Cross Train Station, a tram stop and is close to restaurants, sporting activities, shops, accommodations and Melbourne Park. On the other hand, the South Melbourne Campus offers Commercial Training Kitchen to the Commercial Cookery students of Melbourne City Campus (Adastra.edu.au 2017). Bosomworth (2015) stated that the term industry trend refers to employment, consumer behavior, technological advancements along with the competitors and new product development. In context of employment, the industry trends thus described as recruitment of expert staffs, who are experts in their fields and helps the students to attain industry certified education so that he students can place themselves in hospitality sectors. Moreover, following the trends of globalization, Ad Astra Institute develops partnership with the UCSI University in order to offer Malaysian student to learn hospitality knowledge in Australia (Adastra.edu.au 2017). The partnership is also extended with the development of partnership with Sunbird School in Chengdu, China (Adastra.edu.au 2017). In this way, the brand reputation and awareness is enhanced in other nations. The industry trend of Ad Astra Institute also provide language learning skills for making international students competent in communicating with Australian or any customers. The trends can also be witnessed through their services like- accommodations, holiday programs, career development programs and health covers for internal students (Adastra.edu.au 2017).
Campus locations of Ad Astra Institute
The major competitors of Ad Astra Institute are William Angliss Institute, Academia International and the Hotel School Melbourne. The strength of Ad Astra Institute compared to these universities is that ad Astra has positive reputation in the external community, proactive Partnerships with other universities especially in other nations, conducting accredited programs and offering of learning skills development to enhance learning and effective student and campus services. However, the weakness compared to these competitors is poor maintenance of digital presence and providing match between research expectation & support.
Macro environmental threats and opportunities and current digital presence
Macro environmental threats
Some of the threats that Ad Astra Institute can face is the state budget crisis for incorporating more advancement in the university services. Moreover, not all parents consider employment in hospitality industry as a good profession; thus, negative public perception is a threat for the university. Development of another hospitality industry with more diverse functionalities and offering of facilities is a great threat for Ad Astra Institute.
Macro environmental opportunities
The concerned university have opportunity is developing more partnerships in support of university initiatives, Diversity of region in terms of students and industry, formulating match between the curricular and societal interests, creating external community and university relationship through interest in expansion of cultural activities so that internal students can communicate with local students and customers, expansion in terms of academic program expansion and growth in terms of university services. Moreover, Ad Astra Institute have the opportunity of Stockton by developing University Park, bring enhancement in university connections and incorporating large student pool.
Current digital presence
Chaffey and Bosomworth (2012) stated that the occurrence of the business in online is known as digital presence. In modern era, social media networking sites is a part of digital presence. Ad Astra Institute has their digital presence through their online website, Facebook, YouTube account and LinkedIn (See Appendix, Figure 1, 2 and 3). It can be seen that the performance of their digital presence is not significant as total number of members in Facebook are not high, there are zero subscribers in their YouTube Channel and also there is no recent activity related videos uploaded in the channel. Lastly, in their LinkedIn profile, not much response is there. All these aspects illustrate that there digital presence need to follow an effective strategy so that more people get aware of their brand.
Marketing strategy of current service offering and target markets
Industry trends in hospitality education
The target market in this cases are the high school students in hospitality schools and those, who intends to pursue their higher study or desire to be a professional in hospitality sector. The current marketing strategy is to formulate partnership with other university of different nations so that their students after completing their high school can pursue their higher education is hospitality in Australia.
Customer segments and value propositions and service positioning strategies
The customer segmentation followed by Ad Astra Institute is educated families with high income so that they can afford the fees of the university and the activities that are provided for career development. The segmentation is also based on location (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick 2012). In this aspect, the concerned organization offers their services in Melbourne City and South Melbourne. Considering the psychographic strategy, people with high standard living are only targeted by this university. The value proposition of the Ad Astra Institute is “Ad Astra Institute aims to provide students with expert knowledge and hands on experience to develop their careers in hospitality and the culinary arts”. Lastly, it can be said that the positioning of the market is only in Melbourne and even students of other nations, have to come to Australia is they intends to study in this university.
Identification of the primary marketing challenge
Thus, it can be said that, the prime challenge is that people are not aware of the services and the educational course that Ad Astra Institute is providing. They do not have their branches in other nations and students have to accommodate in their campus if they intends to study in their university. Most importantly, their digital channels are not properly maintained especially their Facebook fan page and YouTube channel. Ad Astra Institute thus has to enhance their partnership in other nations and offer their services as a joint venture so that students can experience their services in their respective nation. Secondly, for overcoming the adversity of brand awareness, effective promotional activities should be incorporated. Thirdly, effective plan should also be formulated so that the digital presence of the concerned university can be enhanced.
Recommendation for enhancing university partnerships
Ad Astra Institute can initiate university partnership programs so that collaboration with Hospitality University and high schools can be established. The concerned university can also select some extra-ordinary student and offer them scholarships to study in Australia. Partnership can also be formed with the business partners so that the local and especially the international students can get the campus services and other accommodation services efficiently.
Competitors of Ad Astra Institute
Recommendation for enhancing promotional activities
Advertisement can be done through traditional methods like advertisement in newspaper, digital hoardings and magazines attract students and their family members. Moreover, the concerned organization can also adopt the strategy of advertising campaigns, demonstrations from successfully placed students and free sample campaigns, seminars on related topics along with direct mail campaigns. However, in order to meet the recent trends, the concerned university can adopt the strategy of digital promotional activity through online sites especially social media marketing through Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter account and others.
Recommendation for enhancing digital presence
The design of the website should be enhanced so that people will find every small detail in the website. Thus, it is recommended to develop a simple yet effective design, mobile-friendly digital presence, incorporation of quality images and information related to those images and most importantly presence of statistics. Moreover, for their social media page, one recommendation is to stay active every time in the social sites. Based on the posts in the sites, consumer survey should also be conducted so that the exact user demand can be observed and relevant changes can be made on the services offered to the students.
Justification for changing the marketing strategy
All the recommendations are justified as it will enhance the brand awareness among the community. In addition to that, these strategies will also enhance their promotional activities and university collaborations and more people will desire to get admission in Ad Astra Institute. These strategies will also redefine the target segmentation that is the concerned organization can also serve their services outside Melbourne, Australia. Scholarships and other campaign also attracts student with extraordinary merit irrespective of their family income and culture to learn and study at their university. The digital advertisements and channel also allow the students and their family to get aware of all the detail and contact the university directly through the details. This transparency also enhances their brand awareness.
Social media marketing
Audit the current social presence
-Assess the different social networking sites and online websites
-Optimize the networks like cover images, profile pictures, contents of the programs and details future activities
-Assess the effective network that brings most value
-Compare the competitor’s online presence and closely target their upcoming strategies
Document ideal customer
-Identification of the target markets and their most preferred digital media applications
-Customers can be segmented based on the age, location, job tiles and income and language preferences.
-Developing same social media sites with other languages of nations, where the university intends to expand their branch.
-If Facebook is the most preferred application, regular updates of the content, future courses and the ongoing scholarship programs should be present
Formulate social media mission statement
The mission statement should be close to the consumer’s demands and fulfill their queries
Identification of the key success metrics
The effectiveness of the social media should be maintained through some metric like- conversion rates, time spent on website, total shares and comments of the consumers on their existing and future activities.
Creation of engaging content
-Upload recent images and videos of the university campus, and the new class offered
-Tutorial videos related to the hospitality subjects by effective staffs can also be uploaded on the media sites
-Formulation of blogs related to the newly incorporated courses and activity in their websites
-The online website can also include interview with successful students and academic professionals and other hospitality icons so that faith on the university can be attained.
-Ebooks can also be published at a regular interval of time containing recent newsfeeds
Analyzing and optimizing the contents
-Reduce redundant data and more informative data through which more knowledge regarding the college campus, career opportunity can be obtained
-Evaluate the preferred post by the consumers and introduce such courses and offers so that more people can comment in the social media pages.
Table 1: Strategies to improve the social media marketing
(Source; Created by Author)
Strategies to increase consumers likes in Facebook business page
Complete the home page of the Facebook Business Page profile: In this aspect, it can be said that the Ad Astra Institute should complete the details of their institute in Facebook. The details given in the institute’s website and Facebook should be similar and presence of different details should be avoided. Moreover, a catchy description should be used and the business page should be categorized properly. Tiago and Veríssimo (2014) suggested that through this method not only the potential followers can get the accurate information but it also prove the organized business strategy of the respective organization.
Challenges and opportunities for Ad Astra Institute
Requests business partners join the business page: The Ad Astra Institute initiates many business partnerships and the consumers should also witness the collaboration through the Facebook business page. This strategy will ensure the authenticity of the details that is available in the fan page.
Incorporation of the social plug-in in the business website: It is the general tendency of a person to search for a business website. However, it is liability of the organization to present the social plug-in of the organization in the websites. This will allow the website visitors to witness the activities that the organization is taking for the betterment of the student.
Identify the interest trend of the visitors: Facebook has introduced a new metric tool called as “Graph Search” that allows an organization to easily find the interest of the target consumers. Ad Astra Institute can utilize the tool for posting relevant posts, videos and images according to the most demanding trends like- facilities available for international students, initiatives for opening their university in other nation with same effectiveness. This will enhance the followers in Facebook Fanpage which will encourage more students to take admission in their university.
Enhance the subscribers in YouTube Business Cannel
Formulate a plan for the video prior uploading: Ferrell and Hartline (2012) stated that there are thousands of channels based on same topic, but users only view such video that offer concise content in simple language. Ad Astra Institute should also prepare simple script for their videos regarding their classroom services, class courses, details of the staffs and facilities that they will receive. The video should not be long and use of pictorial representation should be more emphasized.
Increase the frequency of video uploads: Ryan (2016) suggested that one way to keep engaging the customers is to regular updates regarding the business activity and future approaches. Channel that do not keep up with the subscribers’ demands become a less preferred channel. Thus, the concerned university should upload more videos like twice in a day or 5 times a week. This release of videos in a timely, recurring, and structured fashion pushes the number of subscribes significantly.
Optimizing the title- The title of the content should contain keywords that users searches on Google for details. Ad Astra Institute can obtain this by using “Google Adwords” so that they can search for the keywords that users put while searching for university related information. The title of the content should be engaging and descriptive.
Recommendations for Ad Astra Institute
Utilizing the ‘Call to Action’ annotations: These are the popups that ask users to subscribe for the channel in order to get regular updates. All the engaging videos uploaded in the channel should contain these annotations so that on liking a video they can subscribe to the YouTube Channel.
Establish interaction with the loyal fan base: Managing authorities are liable to noticed that all the users’ comments should be responded without any delay. Berthon et al. (2012) highlighted that quick response triggers the positive sense regarding the organization and their management.
The Ad Astra Institute should develop a mobile application for the students with more accessed details so that they can get more facility from the university and can suggest their friends to download the mobile application. The digital marketing plan for enhancing the popularity of a mobile application is illustrated below:
Focus on keywords that users mostly searches
-The mobile application should all the details that are present in the official websites along with additional facilities of class course and classroom tutorials but logging-in to the application.
-Each account should be customized and contain details related to the course mentors, assignment details and library access from the mobile application.
Identification of the resources that the application requires
-The content should be equipped with the relevant resources like classroom documents, presentation slides and sometimes videos related to course so that if students remain absent due to some reason, they can check the classroom updates from the mobile applications
-The organization should keep proper budget for the development of the application so that the uploaded videos can be compatible to upload online and can be easily downloaded from mobile also.
Categories the available facilities in the application
-Everything should be catagorised in the application that is “about us”, “classroom details”, “classroom timetables and mentors”, ”Today’s class”, “Classroom tutorials”, “study materials”, “Course assignment” and “Library Access”. Each categories should be sub-categorized with additional options so that customization can be incorporated and student can find exactly those materials that they are searching for.
Collaboration of app marketing team with a mobile marketing expert
- The university can incorporate a IT team to handle their digital marketing and promotions
-Otherwise hiring a third party mobile marketing expert for taking suggestion regarding the recent technological updates and mobile challenges. This strategy will allow the organization to overcome challenges regarding their mobile application.
Provide regular updates with more facilities and user friendliness
-The university should provide regular updates in the application in terms of additional access to facilities or class performance tracker so that the experience through the application can be enhanced rather than the look of the applications
-Updates options should be provided regularly so that students can witness the effort the university take for enhancing their experience
Table 2: Strategies to improve the mobile marketing
(Source; Created by Author)
Measuring the effectives of the digital marketing plan
Likes & Shares: After the implementation of the strategy, measuring the number of like and shares of the posts, videos and images by a student or visitors allow the organization to identify the increased effectiveness of their social networking sites.
Image 1: “Like” metric of Facebook Business page
Audience Growth/Rate of Followers: The organization has to keep an eye on the number of followers so that they can pay attention to the rate of their observers. This analytics allow the organization to identify the potential visitors and also dissatisfied observers. This analytics also allow the organization to look for the post and recent updates share by their dissatisfied observers and take effective steps to overcome the adversity.
Image 2: Metric for Audience Growth/Rate of Followers
Audience Demographics: This is a feature present in Facebook and Twitter so that the details of number of followers or subscribers in the respective social media sites can be measured like- age, gender, geographic location and preference of course.
Image 3: Facebook Audience Demographics Analytics tool
It is concluded that, Ad Astra Institute is taken for consideration that operates their hospitality education services from two campuses in Melbourne that is Melbourne City Campus and South Melbourne Campus. The challenge that the university face is low maintenance and poor representation of their digital marketing presence. They have their Facebook fanpage and YouTube channel but they do not have much followers and subscribers in both of their digital media presence. It is also found from the discussion that they should provide a social link of their social media in their business websites so that people do not have to search for their social presence separately. In addition to that, it is suggested in the discussion that the concerned organization should regularly posted their recent videos, posts and images in their sites and business websites so that people can get aware through their activities. Moreover, for their students they should also develop a mobile application through which they can access their university account and get the facilities like classroom tutorials, study materials and assessments details.
It is recommended to Ad Astra Institute to create other parallel social media sites like Instagram and Twitter that younger generation use to share their experience. In this way, the concerned university also assesses the most effective social media through which they can promote their brand. It is also recommended for them to take video of curricular activities of the students and posted it on their university social media sites. Moreover, the social media pages of their university and business partners also be incorporated so that the authenticity if their data can be evaluated by the visitors. Moreover, suggestion from internet experts and programmers will also be beneficial for the university as they know the recent technological updates that can enhance their digital marketing presence.
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