Big data. I’m sure you’ve heard that term many times before. It’s a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean for you? As colleges and universities, you receive tons of new data every day, whether it’s from an open house where students sign up for more information, online forms, high school fairs, etc. All this data might be used to follow up with leads through phone calls or mailings, but you can also use it for something much bigger and more effective: reaching students, parents, and potential leads through digital means. You can ensure that your message is in front of your target audience’s eyes on their laptops, phones, or tablets at the right place and the right time.
There are multiple ways to harness the power of student data through digital advertising, with the first being IP Targeting. Through IP Targeting, you can reach a list (no matter how big or small) of addresses directly in those homes while residents are browsing the Internet on their computers, tablets, or smart phones. IP Targeting works by taking the IP address associated with the list of addresses in your database and serving ads directly to those people on any of their devices within that home. Looking to target a community college to help boost transfer numbers? You can use IP Targeting to reach a whole college campus, and your ads will show up on students’ phones as they roam the halls or on their laptops if they’re out on the quad doing work. Your message will definitely be seen, adding to the transfer fairs, high school fairs, or mailings where students are seeing your brand and learning about your programs.
If students aren’t doing homework or in class, there’s a strong chance they’re checking social media! According to a May 2013 Pew study, 94% of teens have a Facebook profile, and 81% said that Facebook is their main social networking site. So how can you use your data to reach potential leads there? By matching your data to Facebook and targeting a specific audience directly in their news feed. You can use e-mails and phone numbers, but a recent improvement that’s a big game changer is being able to target by postal address (including first and last name). As long as the address, e-mail, or phone number matches the user’s profile, you will have a direct path into their news feed.
A final way to utilize all of this great data is through Twitter. Additional Pew research from 2013 shows that 26% of teens using social media are on Twitter and 18% of those over 18 years old use the site, with the main audience usually being younger and more urban. Similar to Facebook, you can use any e-mails you have collected to target people via their Twitter feeds. Using a promoted Tweets campaign, you can target those specific leads with customized Tweets, such as encouraging people who attended open houses to apply or providing a link to people who attended transfer fairs to learn more about how they can transfer.
Whether you want to start small with one of these tactics or jump right in and try a few, it’s important that you’re not just sitting on the arsenal of data coming in to your school every day. Use the data to your advantage and reach out to students, parents, or adults through the devices that connect them to the ever-growing digital world. It might be a little overwhelming to think through how you can use this data, but reach out to the higher ed. experts at Carnegie who can work with you and customize a plan for your specific goals and data.