It was a full house at LinkedIn’s session, Change Brings Opportunity: How the Enrollment Journey Has Changed and How to Best Influence Prospective Students Today. LinkedIn’s Global Marketing Director of the Education Vertical, Saied Amiry, shared great insights from LinkedIn data and updates to the platform, and he presented a new way of thinking about student recruitment.
The Trap of Short-Term Thinking
As marketers, we’re all guilty of putting too much emphasis on short-term results. We want instant gratification and are tempted to pull the plug on anything that doesn’t suffice. Saied offered some tips for changing your mindset:
Rule #1: Think Beyond Direct Response
Are you curious about how you should allocate your media mix between brand and direct response? Saied advises that the optimal media mix is 60 percent of budget spent on brand. Investment in a long-term brand strategy, combined with a short-term campaign, maximizes the benefits of both investments.
Rule #2: Rethink Measurement
Saied shared that it may take six months to three years to see the long-term effects of brand marketing. With this figure in mind, we should look at metrics such as net promoter score, brand sentiment (quality vs. vanity metrics) and multi-touch attribution.
Connecting with Today’s Prospective Students
LinkedIn has the largest global community of professionals – 467M+ professionals, including more than 40 million students or recent college grads. In addition to volume of users, the LinkedIn platform gives advertisers the opportunity to market to those who matters with a unique combination of benefits:
LinkedIn surveyed 15,000 respondents to learn more about the higher education decision journey. Their key findings are included below:
- The prospects’ shortlist is exclusive and critical
- Peer groups and professional networks are a significant influence
- Millennials are driven by a different mindset than Gen X
- Prospects seek specific content at each stage
It’s critical to think about these points when developing your marketing strategy:
Engage early in the decision process with a relevant social strategy and content strategy.
According to LinkedIn, only three schools make a prospect’s shortlist – 72 percent of prospects develop their shortlist before reaching out to a school, and 93 percent end up enrolling at a school from their shortlist. This is why a relevant social strategy and contact strategy is critical for building awareness for your school, program and brand.
Build a presence on digital platforms that align with your prospects’ mindset and your school’s brand identity.
Unsurprisingly, higher salary is the most influencing factor for obtaining a degree, but influencing factors do vary by generation.
Source: LinkedIn – Base: MBA and Master Intenders (n=502)
Developing a specific strategy based on persona, including a strategic approach to channels, content and messaging, is key to success.
Understand the nuances of your audience and target them with relevant content by decision stage.
Prospects look for different content at every stage of their decision making process. In the beginning, they might be interested in rankings, but when it comes to enrolling, they might be looking more at outcomes and alumni stories.
Source: LinkedIn – Base: MBA and Master Intenders (n=502)
When you’re developing content for social as opposed to content for your communication workflows, keep this data in mind. It’s important to be strategic when creating and promoting your content throughout the decision-making process.
How LinkedIn is Adapting the Platform for Higher Education
LinkedIn’s aims to exceed marketer objectives, prove value through analytics and insights, simplify access to products and capabilities and target audiences that matter. LinkedIn plans to do this by introducing new products and streamlining existing ones, improving and expanding data tracking capabilities and providing additional and updated audience targeting features.
Exceed marketer objectives
LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms are back! These forms can help advertisers generate high-quality leads from campaigns based on a variety of CTAs and objectives. Expect this to be rolled out during Q2.
The LinkedIn Audience Network will allow advertisers to reach your target audience outside of the LinkedIn platform. Scale your professional reach beyond LinkedIn.com to include high-quality destinations. This update should create more inventory and drive down pricing for advertisers, with roll out expected in April 2017.
LinkedIn Dynamic Ads allow you to personalize your creative to better resonate with your target audience. This ad format can help increase engagement by leveraging profile data.
Prove value through analytics and insights
Campaign demographic reporting beyond-the-click enables advertisers to analyze campaign performance at different levels such as conversion rate, click-through rate, engagement rate and more. This enhancement will allow advertisers to better segment data by audience.
Third-party impression tracking will allow third-party advertisers like DoubleClick and Atlas to provide better data and transparency to advertisers.
Simplify access to products and capabilities
University Pages and Company Pages have now been merged and are simplifying the brand and user experience. LinkedIn has created a new, unified university page that still includes the Alumni Tool and an all new, streamlined admin page. While this transition has been difficult or frustrating for some universities, with their content expiring after 30 days, we believe the merging of the pages is a positive change for long-term marketing and branding.
Sponsored InMail is now available for all advertisers in the self-service platform, eliminating minimum spending requirements once in place for the ad format. Reach your target audience in a more personalized way while utilizing the same audience targeting options available in the self-serve platform.
LinkedIn is enhancing advertiser APIs allowing for more seamless integration with various marketing tools and automation systems including Hubspot, Oracle, Sprinklr, Adobe and more.
Target the audiences that matter
LinkedIn is rolling out website retargeting later this year, and we’re extremely excited! While they might be late to the game, we know audiences that are active on LinkedIn are often think about advancing their education or career, making the platform invaluable for engaging with prospects.
LinkedIn will also be introducing email and company targeting this year. Like many other advertising platforms, you can upload a list of your prospect emails to target them with specific messaging. LinkedIn offers the same function for targeting employees on a specific list of companies as well. You can manually upload these lists or integrate them with marketing automation tools like Marketo, Eloqua, Acxiom and LiveRamp.
As Saied wrapped up the session, he said LinkedIn is committed to higher education and investing in its future. We’re looking forward to these big updates in 2017 and the impact they will have on higher education marketing.
Interested in learning more about LinkedIn marketing for higher education? Check out LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions Blog.