As a higher education marketer, are you using advertising that attracts the right type of students? And are you giving them enough opportunities to find you? In this first post of a series, lets explore targeted display ads to reach qualified college-bound students, so you can reach the right audience to create awareness about your school, its offerings and programs.
ONLINE PRESENCE: CRAFT A COMPELLING WEBSITE
Can you take an educated guess on what high school students and their parents rated as the most influential recruitment resource? Perhaps its not a surprise college websites ranked higher than emails from colleges, college planning sites, social networks and other media, according to Noel-Levitzs 2014 E-Expectations Report.
Based on Noel-Levitzs recommendations, ideally you have already invested in developing a website thats rich with search-engine optimized content — including compelling, relevant imagery and communications, lists of academic programs or majors, enrollment and admission information, financial aid and scholarship information, athletic programs, housing details, student life and more. But how do prospective students discover your website?
DISCOVERY: HELP PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS FIND YOU
To boost traditional higher education marketing such as printed materials, direct mail and phone calls, you can use digital media to capture students who are researching schools online. What defines your ideal applicant? Do you have data about your most successful students that can help you reach groups of people like them? If so, you can use this type of display advertising:
Audience Targeting. Expand your reach and create awareness for your school by targeting demographics, geography, interests and behaviors of your ideal student.
For example, you could target a student segment of men and women between ages 15 and 18 who live in your geographic region, are interested in four-year private universities and who visit a particular category of websites that represent a positive signal for prospective students at your school, such as websites about news, business, technology or the arts.
You may be familiar with paid search ads, but did you know you can actually target people using search engines and display your schools ads to them after theyve left? Heres how it works:
Search Retargeting. When a student searches for keywords, such as your school name, computer science degree, best schools for graphic design and others you define, he will begin to see your ads as he browses the web, long after hes left the search engine.
Heres an example of ad creative that a prospective student might see on websites across the web in the days after performing a search for graphic design schools:
NEXT UP: KEEP PROSPECTS ENGAGED WITH RETARGETING
Once youve driven student prospects to your website, the power of retargeting in other forms comes to play. As mentioned before, high schoolers and their parents are most influenced by information from your schools website, but also use multiple media formats — emails, mobile, social media — as they surf the web and educate themselves about going to college. Stay tuned for our next post on how to keep them engaged throughout their application and decision process.