Digital Byte: How to Market a New Program Online and On Time

Carnegie Higher Ed Nov 18, 2013 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

If you’re one of the many admission and marketing professionals challenged with promoting a brand-new study, major, or certificate program, you no doubt have your plate full. Let’s say you’re starting a new graduate program. First you must determine your prospective student demographics, enrollment goals, and of course, your budget. Then, the fun starts—it’s time to roll up your sleeves and execute a solid marketing campaign! Here are five must-have programs for implementing a targeted digital recruitment plan that yields results:

  1. Reach them while they are looking for you with Paid Search/PPC. It’s important to show up in the paid results section when someone is specifically searching for your brand or the exact program you’re trying to offer. Geo-target further based on the region most likely to hold your potential candidates. The beauty of pay-per-click is just that—you only pay when someone clicks. To get the most for your dollar, have multiple site links or other extensions in your text ad to gain more real estate on the search results page. This will ensure your ads give prospective students some options to find a specific page on your site or even have your telephone number handy for their immediate needs.
  2. Reach them while they’re not looking for you with targeted Outreach/Display. Serving display ads across a wide range of publishers within your targeted network and geography is critical for your brand awareness and for driving new visitors to your website, video portfolio, or customized landing page. Then layer in keyword targeting; this displays your ads alongside content that contains the keywords you’ve strategically chosen for a campaign, allowing you to further hone in on your target audience while they’re consuming related content online.
  3. Bring them back. Retargeting, also known as remarketing, allows you to reengage prospective students with unique messaging based on the areas of your website they have visited. It’s a powerful tool for reminding your audience to come back to your site, whether it’s to finish an inquiry, sign up for an information session, start an application, etc. Retargeting compliments targeted display and PPC, building on that initial outreach and bringing students back with a more personal approach.
  4. Optimize their experience through SEO. Organic search is the most fundamental aspect of a strong online presence. When launching any marketing campaign, ensure your site is updated with your new program’s information, proper metadata, and working links in order for all those new visitors to find you, learn more, and take action easily on your site.
  5. Measure the performance of your marketing efforts not only to determine what’s working but to improve your ROI. Free and available data is at your fingertips! Turn to your Google analytics to set up goals and measure visitor data like referral sources, behaviors/traffic flows, and see if they moved through the conversion funnel. It’s also advisable to peek at your internal site search to optimize the content people are trying to find when surfing your site and improve navigation and content accordingly. Data cannot be understated when it’s a rookie project, so be sure to use it!

There you go—five simple steps. Though they sound easy enough, if you’re feeling more overwhelmed than overjoyed with this list of digital strategies, then allow us to help. The Carnegie team is all higher education marketing professionals and Google certified experts (not to mention awesome data geeks). From strategy, design, and execution to the final stages of reporting and analytics, we can help you market your institution’s new programs to reach your enrollment goals!

Angie can be found on Twitter @AngieMayWard

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