Digital Byte: 3 Strategies to Get Conversions this Fall

Carnegie Higher Ed Oct 10, 2014 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Whether you need to drive applications or increase attendance for open houses and tours, November is a critical period for getting your message out to the right prospects—fast—in order for them to take action. The beauty of digital advertising is it’s almost never too late to get an effective last-minute push out the door.

Here’s how:

1. Use big data for online display campaigns

Banner ads come in all shapes and sizes, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to inventory. But how do you get in front of the right student at the right time without wasting months on establishing a brand in front of an audience unlikely to convert? Thanks to big data, expensive direct media buys with a local media outlet are a thing of the past. Years of research, technology, and data collecting allow a marketer (you!) to identify specific, unique audiences through new and effective display strategies like IP Targeting, look-alike models, SSON (Student Select Online Networks), and Retargeting.

Display strategies have historically been “assisting” channels, those that help build awareness and intent at the earlier stages in the decision-making process. However, with the advent of big data, we can reach out to prospective students we know are deeper in the funnel. We now have the ability to determine if a particular website, computer, or address holds the key to a likely applicant based on their expressed interest in a specific college or degree because they fit the demographic profile of someone who has. This method helps drive conversions much quicker than the old-fashioned blanket media buying method.

2. Be present in paid search

Education-related search queries have continued to increase year over year. PPC is a direct response channel that ensures you are in front of your ideal prospects at the exact moment they are searching for you. When bidding on branded terms, you’re reaching a target audience that’s likely already aware of who you are, and thus you can drive home your timely message to yield conversions relatively quickly. PPC is often considered a “last interaction” channel, a pivotal last point of contact prior to a purchase. With strategic messaging, bidding, and ad creation, your PPC program can have an impact in a pinch and be a great complement to a data-driven display program!

3. Build an organic presence via SEO and social media

According to Google, 77% of education seekers will first visit a school’s website at least two weeks—and often two months—before taking action. Granted, this isn’t a helpful tid-bit if you’re reading this 10 days ahead of a deadline you need to market. But the message here is to build your presence throughout the year. The college search process is a long journey. And your website is a revolving door with students and parents constantly visiting, researching, and eventually converting. Optimize your site for that audience by continually adding fresh content to your site and social media channels. Blog, post videos, and tweet often. Ensure proper links on your social media content point back to your .edu site to build awareness around your school’s brand and events all year-round while increasing your search visibility.

Of course, implementing these campaigns is easier said than done, especially when you have applications to review and tours to schedule! Lucky for you, that’s what we’re here for.  Contact Carnegie Communications today to help you out.

Angie can be found on Twitter @angiemayward.

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