Top Digital Marketing Takeaways From LinkedIn Education Connect 2019

Carnegie Higher Ed Oct 04, 2018 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Carnegie Dartlet team attends annual LinkedIn Education Connect event

Now in its fifth year, the annual LinkedIn Education Connect event in New York City brings together 200+ higher education professionals for one incredible day of insight into data and research, case studies, and new ideas to inspire those in education to take their marketing strategies to the next level.

As a LinkedIn agency partner, Carnegie Dartlet was not only invited to attend the event but was also given the opportunity to get up on stage and talk about an exciting new project we’ve been working on with our LinkedIn marketing counterparts. I’ll give you a sneak peek into what we’ve been discovering from this research, but there were so many powerful presentations from thought leaders and other digital marketers that I’d be remiss not to share some key takeaways from those sessions as well.

New research confirms professional networks to be valuable to prospective students

Although we’re still finalizing the report that will come out later this year, the data we’ve compiled as part of this research project has reaffirmed what both Carnegie Dartlet and LinkedIn have believed for some time: professional platforms, like LinkedIn, are much more valuable to prospective students throughout the entire decision-making journey compared to other social media platforms.

At Carnegie Dartlet, we’ve seen this time and again as we test digital advertising campaigns on LinkedIn and compare the outcomes to other social networks. The volume of leads or inquiries may be lower and the budget needed to invest in these ads may be higher, but the ROI speaks for itself: the leads our clients receive from LinkedIn are often more qualified, more engaged, and more likely to ultimately enroll at the client’s institution.

Did you know that 90% of 2017 US graduates are on LinkedIn? That means there are a lot of potential graduate students who are receptive to learning more about these opportunities on this network. And that means….

LinkedIn advertising is no longer “optional” in your digital marketing mix

With two new members signing up for LinkedIn every second and more than 158 million unique visitors, it’s surprising to hear that many colleges and universities are hesitant to test any type of advertising on this platform. And it’s not just graduate students that are active: 70% of bachelor’s degree prospects have a LinkedIn profile prior to enrollment. Advertising on LinkedIn allows colleges and universities to reach these diverse audiences through several different tactics.

As we’ve mentioned before, lead generation forms on LinkedIn have been revolutionary for higher education to collect a prospect’s information more effectively and efficiently. Luckily for us, LinkedIn has been working behind the scenes to offer more CRM integration to help digital marketers get these leads into their system for faster follow-up, helping move the prospect through the marketing funnel quicker than ever before. If your institution’s CRM isn’t available for an auto-sync yet, you’ll still be able to manually access these leads and import them into your system, and with any luck, they’ll soon be available as a direct integration.

But lead generation ads are just one piece of the puzzle. When thinking about your overall marketing mix on LinkedIn, higher education data shows that schools have seen a 24% increase in enrollment when running multiple products to their target audience. This means starting with a Sponsored Content campaign to build brand awareness, moving into InMail drops to drive inquiries and event registrations, and following up with text ads to encourage movement through the entire student journey.

When thinking about what type of content or creative to include in your LinkedIn ads, remember you are two times more likely to see an increase in leads when you have multiple creative in rotation. LinkedIn can show up to four different versions of your Sponsored Content to someone in your target audience at any given time—don’t miss out by limiting your content! You can even test different headlines with your InMail drops to see which headline drives more opens and clicks.

If you’re unsure what type of content might drive your prospects to take action, look beyond your website for inspiration. Think about the brochures, emails, postcards, and other marketing pieces you send to prospective students. These often offer the recipient an overview on what makes your school or program unique and tells them why they should apply. Your LinkedIn ads should do the same!

Higher education is no longer just competing with other institutions

The reality of the education marketplace is that it’s not just other schools that are vying for prospects’ attention. There has been an influx in companies and organizations offering target audiences alternatives to earning a “traditional” degree, allowing them to gain essential and practical skills to launch or advance their careers much quicker than higher education institutions can provide.

It’s time to think more broadly about who’s truly competing to gain the attention of your prospects to remain relevant in recruiting students for your college or university. Some of those competitors may surprise you!

What’s next?

While we were sworn to secrecy not to spill the beans about what’s in LinkedIn’s pipeline, I can say that LinkedIn understands our industry and is actively making positive adjustments to their platform (with both paid and organic tools) to better support higher education marketers. In the coming weeks and months, keep a close eye on new product releases and a revamped presence of colleges and universities looking to better engage students and alumni. We’re excited to be able to beta test some upcoming products with our clients and look forward to continuing to maximize campaign efficiencies on this social platform.

Want to learn more about adding these advertising strategies to your digital campaigns? Reach out to us today to talk about how LinkedIn could help your institution!

Never miss an update.