Wake Forest University School of Business Case Study

Strategic Marketing Drives Enrollment Growth

Wake Forest University School of Business Case Study

The Challenge

When Wake Forest University needed strategic direction and management of digital marketing for its graduate business programs, the University selected Carnegie through a competitive bid process. With limited in-house marketing capabilities, the University needed a partner with a higher education focus as well as systems and processes in place to efficiently and effectively strategize and buy advertising on a national scale. There was also an expressed need to better understand and track prospective students throughout the enrollment journey and minimize “ghost” applicants.


Wake Forest University School of Business Case Study

The Strategy.

To achieve Wake Forest’s primary goals of solidifying brand awareness and building the school’s profile, Carnegie delivered a layered digital strategy incorporating PPC, Display Outreach and Retargeting, and LinkedIn. Through Carnegie ClarityTM, Wake Forest was able to build an understanding of engagement (number of visits, engagement during site visits, etc.) among prospective students. Campaigns took an always-on approach with an emphasis in September and January in order to reach prospective students set to complete their undergraduate degrees. The initial media strategy was outlined based on Wake Forest’s goal to drive a balance of inquiries and applications. After a few months of optimizing campaign performance to those strategies driving inquiries most affordably (mostly Lead Generation campaigns on Facebook and Instagram), we gained more robust data from Carnegie ClarityTM that indicated while PPC had a higher cost per lead due to higher competition, PPC was actually most effective at driving application submissions. Our team then made a recommendation to shift more budget to PPC, where there was an opportunity to increase traffic and overall applications.

Digital Marketing
Display Advertising
Paid Social Media
Carnegie Clarity
Google Analytics

The Results.

After implementing a robust digital strategy inclusive of paid media, SEO, attribution through Carnegie ClarityTM and Google Analytics consulting, we effectively optimized campaign performance to outperform Carnegie benchmarks in nearly every category, including cost per acquisition (CPA). During the 2019–2020 fiscal year, Carnegie campaigns drove over 1,700 total conversions, with nearly 450 of those conversion actions being application submissions. The School of Business met or exceeded all enrollment goals for fall 2020, citing digital marketing as a significant factor in its success.



“We are fully convinced that Carnegie’s digital strategies helped us meet or exceed our respective enrollment goals this year. We consistently find anywhere from a third to half of our enrolled students actively engaged with our digital campaigns during their search.” Michael Lamphier
Executive Director, Marketing and Communication
Wake Forest University School of Business

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