Digital Byte: Bundle Up This Season with a Layered Strategy

Carnegie Higher Ed Jan 15, 2015 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

This winter has been no joke: below-freezing temperatures, -30 degree wind chills, and several feet of snow have pummeled many areas across the country. Even as a life-long New Englander, I’m having trouble keeping warm myself! Bundling up with the right layers is increasingly important, as each item can hold a very specific purpose based on snow, rain, or wind.  This is not so unlike the recruitment cycle, actually, and how certain times of year require different layers of strategies to yield the best results. I’ve broken down some digital layers we feel are imperative this time of year for institutions to consider as online recruitment efforts are underway:

Display outreach = Under Armor

Reaching out to new prospects, like high school juniors, is very important right now. There are several ways to find your display audience online: keyword targeting (when banner ads appear alongside websites with relevant keyword content), behavioral targeting (when banner ads are shown on various sites based on information about a particular user), or managed site placement (banner ads shown on a network of websites known to reach your prospective audience type) to name a few. An experienced agency can help you determine the best ways to identify your prospects and which geographies to hit to maximize your impressions. One or all of these forms of display can serve as your foundation for piquing that early interest!

Search engine marketing = the shirt on your back

You want to be present when those prospects come looking for you after your successful outreach tactics are underway. As students start searching for your brand or programs of interest, you will want to be prepared with a Pay-Per-Click campaign and search engine optimization. A SEM presence, both paid and organic, is like your everyday outfit—you need it all year long! However, your PPC and SEO strategies should also shift dramatically throughout the year based on your goals, competition, and other factors. So keep them fresh and appealing with updated content and keywords regularly!

IP Select = your coat

This is also a great time to leverage a Search buy through IP Select to target students and their families right in their homes. You could also reach businesses, community colleges, hotels, hospitals, or other organizations known to house your target demo. All we need is the street addresses, and we can do the rest! This is a fantastic opportunity to implement a highly targeted display program, with messaging unique to their level of intent. Don’t have a list? We can create one for you using our look-alike model, which can leverage your current or past enrolled students and find people similar to them! In either case, IP Select should be timed with your other marketing efforts, added as another layer only when it makes the most sense for you.

Retargeting = your boots, hat, scarf, and gloves

Okay, last analogy, I promise. Now it’s time to accessorize and leverage all of this newfound traffic with Retargeting! Segment your site in order to accumulate unique audiences based on the pages they visited, and serve them custom banner ads that match their level of interest. Retargeting is the perfect way to leverage all of your other marketing efforts that drove your site traffic. These messages should reengage prospects with strong calls to action, encourage them to come back to your site, and take further action like inquire, apply, or attend an event. Retargeting covers multiples areas and complements your other efforts. And this time of year, like a warm pair of gloves, you just can’t go without it!

Of course, no two institutions and goals are alike, so work with an agency that specializes in digital recruitment for education to ensure your layered strategy is not one-size-fits-all. It must be customized and tailored to your needs, as the season changes. Happy winter!

Follow Angie on Twitter @AngieMayWard

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