A Google Maps Embed Isn’t Enough To Market Your Campus
A while back we wrote an article talking about how a .pdf campus map just doesn’t cut it anymore. A .pdf map provides an easy way for a website visitor to quickly print a copy of your map, but it is not always the friendliest experience for visitors. It also might not fully convey all the details of your campus that you want to show. Many of the limitations of displaying your campus through a .pdf print map also apply to Google Maps, MapQuest or Bing Maps (or any of the other guys).
Without programming experience what you can do with Google Maps is limited, but most Google Map embeds we have seen of campuses are no more than a point of interest on the map. Without a lot of custom work we end up seeing one of the following two examples:
As you can see neither of these are really that compelling. They are great at providing wayfinding information or teasing out a little bit of your campus, but your school is so much more interesting and compelling than this. For their value (free) they are amazing but they are also limiting.
Your Campus is an Important Marketing Tool
How can you stress how your campus is an important marketing tool? Maybe one way is to point out how underutilized of a tool it currently is. Campus is beautiful, and almost everything related to your institution happens on campus. Quite simply campus IS one of the most important things people think about when they think about you. Alumni have nostalgic memories of where events in their life happened on campus. Campus is one thing related to your brand that people can see, touch, smell, hear and probably even taste through a local eatery.
Why would you not fully leverage this valuable marketing tool? It is probably the most important tool in a school marketer’s tool belt and rarely is it even pulled out.
Show Your Beauty
School campuses are usually known for their beauty. Landscaping is well taken care of because it is a public place where lots of people spend their time. Large trees, buildings steeped in history and fascinating points of interest dot your campus. Don’t you want something more beautiful than satellite photography or a road map displaying this? This is why we believe a gorgeous map illustration is a critical piece of this marketing picture. Besides being used in an interactive web experience there are many other ways you can use an illustration.
Besides a map illustration, you probably have tons of other content related to campus that helps tell your story. I’m specifically talking about pictures, videos and written history and descriptions of locations. All of these added details are compelling and interesting but something that a Google Map embed doesn’t put on display, or a .pdf map for that matter.
There Are Limitations With Google Maps
Let’s be completely honest for a second. Google Maps is excellent for two reasons, it is an extremely powerful wayfinding/direction tool and it’s free. Getting to campus is extremely important, just as getting around campus is. If there is a powerful and free way that you can offer this to visitors, that has tremendous value. It shouldn’t be forgotten though that Google Maps does have limitations too.
Google maps isn’t always up to date. It feels like every school that we talk to is going through some sort of capital campaign to build a new building, if not a whole new part of campus, or doing some sort of renovation to existing structures. Satellite photography on Google is usually not newer than six to nine months old, at best. For a campus undergoing construction not only do you want to show off the newest buildings immediately, but chances are visitors want to find these locations.
Customization on Google Maps can be very challenging. Trying to get a street name updated or a building name changed can be extremely hard if not impossible. Unless you personally know someone at Google your best bet to getting changes made is to fill out a form and pray. What can make this even more challenging is anyone could go in and attempt to make these sort of edits and you have to hope that when a Google employee gets around to it your edit is accepted and not some random other person.
Having a Google Map embedded on your website is a great first step, but you could do so much more to engage your visitors. From a recruitment standpoint offering a compelling interactive map or virtual tour really does help you stand above the competition.
You get what you pay for. Look, we get it, Google Maps is free and easy to embed on your website. But if you want to step up the marketing of your campus and take it to the next level then we would love to help. We might be campus marketing experts, but you’re an expert on your campus. Maybe you have admission goals that you are looking to exceed? We can help!