Generalist Versus Domain Specialist Digital Agencies – Where Should the Education Industry Place its Trust

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Much has been said about the traditional versus digital dilemma in education marketing and the writing is on the wall favouring digital over traditional media. But education marketers face another imposing question when it comes to selecting the right kind of digital agency.


While it doesn’t matter much if you have an established digital presence, most education institutes in the country are in the very nascent stage of adopting digital, making it easier to answer the question – are generalist or domain specialist agencies the right fit for the education industry? Clearly, it makes more sense to begin with a domain specialist agency and here are some reasons why!

#1 Because time and timing matter!

Now you wouldn’t take a chest pain to a neurologist, would you? You know a cardiologist would be faster in detecting your issue and suggesting a remedy! Apply the same to your digital marketing needs.

A key difference between digital and print campaigns is that print can do with a good creative strategy and circulation but digital needs to understand audience behavior and link that with your marketing strategy before coming up with a campaign. A domain specialist agency would have a better understanding of your audience behavior and would be faster in turning around campaigns while spending budgets efficiently.

Also, specialist agencies in the education sector sync their work with the marketing calendar of the education sector and understand better when to use which communication theme, making digital campaigns that are precisely timed according to audience and business focus.

#2 The right audience is the most discerning audience

Everyone is excited about the education industry having the most digital savvy audience in the market. While this brings about many opportunities, it opens up an equal number of doors to doom. For an audience that is born in the digital world, spotting a digital sales pitch is easier than we think.

An agency that has gone through the grind will know that students are the toughest audience to sell to and are more likely to keep campaigns informative and influential rather than persuasive.

#3 The industry advantage – Experience matters but domain experience matters even more!

While a generalist knows digital a specialist knows digital in the relevant context. As I have said before, this advantage begins to dilute when your clients have a well oiled digital practice, but for most educational institutes digital is in its most nascent stages.

A client once told me they were working with a digital agency that had been around for 20 years but weren’t able to deliver campaigns that worked. After some digging around I found that they only serviced 4-5 education clients in those 20 years and the campaigns they executed for our client talked nothing about placements, faculty, and the international collaborations. The landing pages and social media talked only about the course and admission notices.

It is a crucial for a digital strategy to understand audience behavior and deliver campaigns accordingly, and that’s where a domain expert is so important; especially in an industry that just beginning to adopt digital.

#4 Invested in the industry

Here is where technology comes into the picture. Generalist agencies have domain agnostic digital solutions driven on commonly applicable metrics.  Specialist agencies however, understand the unique needs of the education industry better and would invest in building focused solutions like CRM platforms tailored for admissions, Learning Management Platforms, and Student Application Portals.

While we do have some compelling reasons for clients in the education sector to choose domain specialist digital agencies, there are always exceptions to the generic rule. What matters at the end of the day is having a digital partner that understands precisely what you need and has the creative and technology expertise to make things happen.