You’re hearing a lot about yield right now. But what about brand? Sure, high schools seniors are making their decisions and deposits, but college tours and applications are at the forefront of juniors’ brains. Colleges are facing a highly competitive market, so the need for a solid brand presence in the digital atmosphere is a must. Here are three ways to ensure your branding campaign has a lasting impression:
Step up your SEO
Search Engine Optimization raises visibility within the SERP (search engine results page) whenever your brand is queried. Why do you want to appear first in the SERP? My colleague Rob likes to quote Ricky Bobby from the film Talladega Nights: “If you’re not first, you’re last.” And he’s right. Good SEO also ensures that you control how your school is perceived: students see the pages and messages you want them to see. SEO best practices can help create a pleasant online experience for your visitors as well. In other words, can they easily navigate to programs of interest, admission events, application requirements, view books, and inquiry forms? If not, you’re going to miss out on many key—and free!—opportunities.
Launch a YouTube campaign
It’s the second-largest search engine in the world, next to Google. And what better way to communicate your program accolades, beautifully landscaped campus, and state-of-the-art facilities than through video? Videos should be used as part of your YouTube Channel library and for paid Search and pre-roll ad campaigns. Remember to get creative with your creative! Video is a perfect medium for conveying emotion—think student testimonials, fun interviews with professors, music to create some feel-good vibes, and interviews that are both thoughtful and comedic. Be mindful that your content is of good quality and promotes both your brand and mission, while keeping it entertaining, inspiring, memorable… and need I say short! Attention spans are quick, so hook them early.
Segment your display creative
Banner outreach is commonly used to increase brand awareness and generate more site traffic. But display campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. Implement different creative strategies based on demographics, location, program of interest, etc. For example, mention the benefits of the location to those out of state, or boast in-state tuition rates for those that are local. Parents are shopping too, so consider messages with career placement stats and scholarships. This is also a great time of year to maximize a recent purchase list via IP Select by showing banner ads right into the homes of those on your junior Search buy. Segment that list or your Retargeting pool based on programs of interest and serve messages accordingly. The beauty of audience segmentation is that it gives you the ability to reach that particular prospect with information relevant to them, allowing them to connect with your brand.
Implementing SEO and digital ad campaigns can be time intensive, so rely on an agency that specializes in higher ed marketing to give you a hand. And remember, it often takes at least seven touch points before a student converts—but you only get once chance to make good first impression.
Having trouble identifying what your institutions brand even is? You’re not alone, and Scott Ochander talked about this at the 2015 Carnegie Conference; check out his presentation on “Discovering Brand Personality.”
Follow Angie on Twitter @angiemayward