Digital Byte: The Silver Linings of Deposit Deadlines

Carnegie Higher Ed May 21, 2013 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Deposits are in! Cheers to you, if you’ve hit your numbers, proving all those recruiting efforts paid off! But like many admission folks, you may have goals that were left unmet. Now you’re wondering, how do you fill those gaps going forward, and why were there gaps to begin with? But there is a silver lining to all this: you have data! You now know exactly where your admission goals fell short and can begin to target those prospective students for next year with a brand-new digital strategy using audience segmentation.

Audience segmentation can be a highly effective identifier to use as a baseline for implementing a targeted digital strategy, allowing you to reach a specific type of student for a specific type of program. Once you’ve identified the programs you need to highlight, you can use the methods below to reach those prospective students for next May.

Targeted Online Display: Utilize a targeted network of sites constructed based on the interests and topics of your prospective students. A 17-year-old aspiring nursing student will no doubt have a different set of interests than a future finance major. Perhaps your target audience is a student that meets certain academic standards and resides in a particular part of the state. Networks can be implemented for that purpose as well. Typically, networks consist of hundreds of sites that are constantly re-evaluated and updated, based on the evolving way of the Web and consumer behavior. Your campaign performance can improve by creating detailed video and banner ads that speak to a specific audience for each phase of their college-search journey. And remember, the further along they are in the search process, the more detailed and targeted the outreach message should be.

Keyword Targeting: Take it one step further and link keywords to your display advertising campaign. By selecting keywords or phrases that represent the editorial content you want to associate your ad message with, the ad network will do the work of finding more sites that reach your target audience. This will enhance and further your reach to students that are the likeliest prospects for your programs. Use specific majors, career terminology, and location facts that are in-line with your school’s (and your competitors’) offerings. This method enables visibility to students while they’re likely catching up on blogs, shopping, and even social media forums. If you need help coming up with keywords, rely on the experts who know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to digital content and the readers engaged with it.

Retargeting: Audience segmentation is the perfect way to run a major- or program-focused Retargeting campaign. With only one tag, the technology “buckets” the specific URLs you want to identify and then serves customized ads to people who visited those specific pages. For example, serve creative with the top two reasons to get an engineering degree from your school, only to those who’ve been to the B.S. of engineering pages on your site. You can even geo-restrict these messages to the areas you’re really trying to saturate. Land these ads at a YouTube portfolio specific to that program’s current students and organizations. It’s a highly focused yet simple way to use segmented audiences to your advantage in the critical months leading up to deposit deadlines.

We recommend using all of these online strategies in some capacity, informed by the deposit timeline goals of your institution. Targeted messaging based on audience segmentation, coupled with some positive thinking, is a powerful combination that will serve as your silver linings playbook for reaching next year’s goals!

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