12 Days of Digital

Carnegie Higher Ed Dec 09, 2016 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

What do higher education marketers want this year? These 12 digital marketing tips! (They’re way more useful than dancing ladies, leaping lords, and partridges in pear trees anyway.)

This is my absolute favorite time of year, so what better way to celebrate than through song! Here are 12 digital marketing tips, tricks, and facts to help you start 2017 off right.

Ahem. On the first day of Digital, Carnegie gave to me …

1.  One minute

With mobile use on the rise, Google estimates that we check our phones 150 times a day for a total of 177 minutes. That means we, as marketers, have one minute and 18 seconds every time our prospects are engaged on their phones. We are fighting for micro-moments—small, frequent, and extremely valuable moments. I’m probably using up a micro-moment on your phone right now!

2.  Two sets of ads

I know what you’re thinking: creating one set of ads can be cumbersome enough, let alone two, which is why A/B testing is by far the most underused tool in digital marketing for higher education. Digital marketing allows us to measure every action our prospects take throughout their journey. Why not use that opportunity to test their preferences with our creative?

The key to a great A/B test is changing one single, distinct thing. This can be the call to action (CTA), image, even the color of the button. All of these tiny, seemingly insignificant details can have a big impact on your marketing campaign.

3.  Three billion Internet users worldwide

What does such a massive potential audience mean for us as marketers? We need to be more targeted than ever when determining our audience—or we could very easily spend too much money in the wrong place. With digital marketing, you can narrow your audience from “MBA prospect” to “female prospect between the ages of 26–32 living in Boston with an undergraduate degree in psychology and an interest in environmental issues.”

4.  Four PPC positions

If you’ve used Google search in the past six months, you’ve probably noticed a distinct change in the layout of paid results. With the removal of the four sidebar ads, your “position” in paid search is more important than ever. You need to be in the top four to be relevant.

The beauty of this major change is Google now gives each advertiser more space for content. With 50% more ad text than before, you can add call-out extensions, sitelinks, and structured snippets, oh my!


Has become this:

Pretty cool, right? Maybe you’re on to something, Google…

5.  Five seconds to skip

YouTube is continuously one of our top five Retargeting publishers, which means after a prospective student visits your site, they frequently go to YouTube. Beyond display ads, YouTube has a number of ways you can use paid advertising.

A few tips: 15–30 second videos work best, and easily skip-able YouTube ads tend to be less expensive. That’s because if a prospect skips before your video ends, you don’t pay for that ad, which means free advertising for you!

6.  Six recommended ad sizes

Unless you’ve run your own AdWords account, you may not realize that the Google Display Network runs on a real-time bidding system. That means you are bidding for available inventory space on the websites your prospects are visiting at that moment. Ad inventory comes in all shapes and sizes, so the more inventory you have, the more likely you’ll have an ad for the space available. Now, if we all had hours to spare, this wouldn’t be an issue, but unless Santa brings an endless supply of free time, we need to prioritize!

Here are the six digital ad sizes that tend be most popular on the Google Display Network: 728×90, 300×250, 160×600, 336×280, 320×50, and 480×75. Focus on building a stockpile of these sized ads!

7. Seven form fields

Four to seven form fields is what we refer to as the “sweet spot” for any request-for-information, or RFI, form. Any shorter and you risk not gathering enough info to send a tailored follow-up message. Any longer and your prospects might get overwhelmed and bounce.

It’s also important to think about whom you are reaching and what you are asking them to give you. For instance, a brand-new student prospect might be hesitant to give you their phone number, but a prospect who has attended an open house or applied for fall admission might be really interested in talking to a current student or counselor. Knowing your audience is key.

8.  Eight hours in a day

I’ll start this one with a confession: I’m the Grinch that sends those annoying late-night e-mails that make your phone buzz while you’re trying to catch up on Game of Thrones. So even I need a reminder that time of day is pivotal.

Whether you’re trying to reach community college students while they are on campus or if your goal is to reach students and families when they are home in the evenings, time of day should always be considered with your digital marketing campaign.

9.  Nine out of ten users leaving a website without converting

Conversions, especially macro conversions, take time. By staying in front of your audience with relevant ads, you will guide them through your funnel. A great way to stay top of mind is through Retargeting, which allows you to serve display messaging to anyone who visits your website. This messaging can be segmented based on the page they visit and their actual geographic location, making it incredibly easy to stay top of mind and drive those conversions.

10. Ten fingers

It is safe to assume that your prospects are visiting your website and social platforms on mobile devices more often than desktop. It’s important to keep that in mind when designing the layout of your site and ad content. You should be “designing for fingers.” Ask yourself, is it easy to navigate on a small screen? How many clicks does it take to convert?

11.  Eleven…umm…

Honestly, I can’t think of any 11s in digital marketing, so I’ll leave you with this gif!

12. Twelve months in a year

Just like time of day, time of year should be a major consideration for any digital marketing campaign. Your pay-per-click strategy may look very different in September than it does in June. Having a comprehensive 12-month plan makes it easy to optimize and meet the needs of your audience, while also spreading your budget appropriately. You can dial-up your marketing efforts during peak months and dial-down during slow months without completely going dark. If you consistently maintain a digital presence, you will better engage with your audience.

That’s a wrap! I hope you find these tidbits helpful as you dive into 2017. Digital marketing is evolving each day, so who knows what we’ll be writing (and singing) about next year. Fingers crossed that it too fits nicely into a Christmas carol. J

Did anything on this list surprise you? Do you have an “11”-themed digital marketing tip?! Let us know in the comments!


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