All posts by Megan Bys

Leading Digital Agency Produces Award-Winning Campaigns for Business Schools and Graduate Programs

Since its fruition in 2011, Converge Consulting has worked with over 150 colleges and universities, bringing programs to market for many of higher education’s leading brands. The digital agency has deep experience supporting enrollment growth in the business and graduate school marketplace.

Converge’s client roster is home to Clemson University’s No. 1 ranked Master of Education, No. 7 Best Education School Teachers College Columbia University, University of Iowa’s top 20 ranked College of Public Health and multiple top 50 business schools, engineering schools and graduate programs.

The agency recently received two AVA Digital Gold Awards for their work with Santa Clara University and Mount Vernon Nazarene University. The AVA Digital Awards are an international competition recognizing excellence by creative professionals responsible for digital communication.

Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business, located in Silicon Valley, launched a digital advertising strategy to market their MBA, EMBA and four master’s degrees, as well as three certificate programs. Leavey also works with Converge to build a brand awareness campaign for their school. Over the course of the partnership, the school has tripled MBA enrollment and doubled enrollment for their masters in supply chain management and finance.

“Converge has helped us to not only grow our enrollment but to think about innovation in higher education in a new way,” said Theresa Strickland, Chief Marketing Officer at the Leavey School of Business.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University, located in Mount Vernon, OH, worked with Converge to develop target audience personas that fueled a multi-channel digital advertising plan. The campaigns drove qualified students to the MVNU website and accelerated their 2017-18 applications and enrollments.

“We can’t wait to see where our digital communications go from here,” said Katie Booth, Director of Operations at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. “Working with Converge has helped us shape our audience and take our digital marketing to new heights.”

The Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals judges each AVA Digital Awards entry at random and based on merit. Judges verbalize criticisms and compliments and agree on a score. Entries are given an award based on the score they receive.


Converge is the digital agency for education with offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh, North Carolina. We develop sound strategy and translate it into campaigns that deliver ROI in a crowded marketplace.  Visit the website for more information.

The Measured Leader: A Handbook for Education CMOs, Marketers & Communicators

As an EDU leader, you are charged with managing a number of responsibilities, stakeholders and initiatives. Results are the defining component of success in your role. Measured leaders need continuous visibility of multiple performance metrics to keep a pulse of all factors impacting their brand in the marketplace.

Mini Brand Scorecard for Higher Education

For the purposes of this ebook, we have grouped key performance indicators (KPIs) into four Organizational Measures that support your communications and marketing efforts: Engagement, Enrollment, Advancement and Reputation.


What does it take to excel in today’s changing landscape?

This tool supports measured leaders with insights as they track and measure success across the institution. Download this must-have resource kit and share it with your team to begin gathering information.

Get your copy.

Converge Expands Team with New Office in North Carolina

Leading Higher Education Marketing Agency Deepens Analytics Services

Converge Consulting, the digital agency for education, recently expanded its team with two strategic hires and a new office in Raleigh, North Carolina. Michael Schinelli joins the agency as chief strategy officer, leading strategic planning, product development, business intelligence and market expansion initiatives from the Raleigh office.

Photo: Highwoods Properties


Schinelli has spent the past nine years in the education marketplace. As chief marketing officer at UNC Kenan-Flagler, a U.S. News & World Report Top 20 Business School, he led a multi-year digital transformation effort and built an integrated marketing team. Prior to his role in Chapel Hill, Schinelli served as AVP of communications at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.

Before venturing into education, Schinelli spent more than a decade in the private sector, including serving as director of creative operations and director of communications at Macy’s Inc. in New York City. With deep knowledge of the business school landscape and a passion for leading high-performing brands and teams, Schinelli will position the agency to realize its strategic vision.

“Converge has seen incredible growth over the past five years and is poised to continue that growth,” said Schinelli. “I look forward to contributing my knowledge and insights to the leading digital agency for education.”

GiaPhu Dao joins the Raleigh office as the agency’s new director of data and analytics. He comes to Converge from Merkle, a global marketing agency, where he integrated analytics and technology to deliver high-performing client marketing solutions. Prior to Merkle, Dao led similar initiatives at Fidelity Investments, Ingersoll Rand and Accenture. At Converge, he will work closely with colleges and universities to harness digital campaign data for industry-leading reporting and marketing analytics solutions.

“Now, more than ever before, colleges and universities need partners who not only understand the digital landscape, but jump in to help them navigate it with strategies that achieve ROI,” said Ann Oleson, Converge CEO and founder. “We are thrilled to tap into the talented data and technology ecosystem in Raleigh.”

In 2017, Converge was named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List for a second consecutive year, putting the digital agency among an elite population—one in three companies—to rank for two consecutive years. These new hires and the opening of a third office will prepare the agency for success in 2018 and beyond.


Converge is the digital agency for education with offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh, North Carolina. We develop sound strategy and translate it into campaigns that deliver ROI in a crowded marketplace.  Visit the website for more information.

CTR, CPL, CVR: Digital Advertising Campaign Data for Higher Education

New year, new insights. We recently put together a free ebook to optimize, maximize and energize your digital marketing campaigns. In an effort to frame up industry standards for colleges and universities, we collected data from digital advertising campaigns across LinkedIn, Facebook, AdWords Search and AdWords Display to curate this complimentary resource.

Keep in mind these are general averages and serve as guidelines for success—results may vary depending on a variety of factors like location, competition and overall budget.

See how you stack up against the competition.

What is your current click-through-rate (CTR), cost-per- lead (CPL) and conversion rate (CVR)? Use this fact sheet as a guide to see how your performance compares to what we’re seeing across various program types and formats.

Download it here.


Digital Download:
Converge Agency Look Book

We’re bold thinkers who propel the new and next in digital marketing for colleges and universities. Passion drives our team to take education to new heights, and we’ve been lucky enough to partner with some of the best brands in the business.

Our new-and-next thinking, data-fueled strategies, brilliant creative and engaging content has helped more than 500 undergraduate and graduate programs across North America meet their enrollment goals.

Looking for your next digital partner? Open our look book to get to know us. This resource includes more information on our solutions, clients and team members.



Download Now.

Converge Agency to Present with Emory Goizueta Business School at LinkedIn and Executive MBA Council Conferences

Converge, the digital agency for education, and Emory University Goizueta Business School will present at the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC) National Conference and LinkedIn Education Connect this month. The annual events bring together attendees from top business schools, executive education and management programs from across the country.

LinkedIn Education Connect will be held on October 17 in New York City. Converge senior account manager, Michelle Rhatigan, will present with Nicole Hitpas, director of program marketing, from Emory University Goizueta Business School on LinkedIn Lead Generation best practices.

Rhatigan and Hitpas have partnered to promote the Goizueta Business School’s executive education certificate programs and business degrees for the past year. Their session will share benchmark data and lessons learned from testing LinkedIn digital advertising strategies.

“We have seen great results with LinkedIn Lead Gen ads and look forward to sharing our experiences with Education Connect attendees,” said Rhatigan.

The EMBAC National Conference will be held the week of October 22-25, 2017, in Seattle, Washington. This annual conference brings together executive MBA programs from around the world to discuss marketplace data and trends.

As a corporate sponsor of the Executive MBA Council, Converge has led sessions at the conference for the past few years. Jay Kelly, Converge president and co-founder, will present a session on digital strategy for marketing and admissions partnerships with Emory Goizueta Business School’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Angela Bostick.

“So often admissions teams request one thing and marketing teams hear something different,” said Kelly. “Our session will shed light on these conversations and facilitate an open dialogue on how to foster high-impact campus partnerships.”

Converge recently attended the Google Partner Summit in New York City, an exclusive event for executives, and will be presenting with Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering at the 2017 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in Atlanta in November.

Visit the company’s website for a full schedule of upcoming events.



Enrollment Reporting and Measurement Strategies for Higher Ed

Q&A with Mount Vernon Nazarene University


Digital marketing is a necessary component of recruitment for colleges and universities, but it’s become much more than a means of brand promotion. With the right technology and measurement strategies in place, digital is a targeted, measurable and alterable practice that is an integral piece of your enrollment strategy.  

A full view of the prospect lifecyclefrom initial visit through enrollment, or even graduationis a powerful, actionable tool. Insight into this data provides real ROI metrics and equips stakeholders with the ability to optimize yield. However, the challenge many programs and institutions face is connecting media acquisition data to prospect records in their respective CRMs. Many measurement strategies end at the inquiry event as opposed to persisting through the student stages of the process.

We sat down with Katie Booth, Director of Operations from Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies, to discuss how her team has implemented a strategy to turn the dream of full-funnel reporting into reality.



CC: Your team has some pretty impressive reporting in place. How are you able to achieve this level of detail as an end result of your efforts?

KB: The operational structure within our office in terms of reporting starts mostly with me. I develop the reports and determine the fields necessary to pull the data we want to show. Our Applications Specialist plays a large role in maintaining data integrity within the CRM. Our recruiters also have a role in updating certain fields to trigger prospects to show up in our reporting, like updating our Cohort field to show when a prospect anticipates starting their program.

In terms of gathering requirements for the end-result reports, we have to know what we want to measure in order to set up the necessary fields to be able to measure it.

Reporting is a way to accurately tell the story of your marketing efforts and recruitment team in terms of numbers. In essence, we are working backwards – starting with the end result of the report or story we want to have and be able to share. We then determine how the data that feeds that report will need to be manipulated to get to the final result. That often influences the types of fields that are set up or which entity they find their home within inside the CRM. Obviously this is all open for tweaking along the way, but the key to measuring over time is consistent data and reporting that can be compared from week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year, so we like to get it right or close to right from the start.


CC: We all know that output is only as good as the input when it comes to collecting data. How do you manage the process and keep your data clean with so many stakeholders?

KB: We have a guiding document for our team that outlines who is in charge of updating what data fields. Our recruiters do update individual prospect information, specifically in the way of qualifying students based on their likeliness to enroll and marking them with a particular start date for their program so we can project enrollment for upcoming starts. Recruiters also keep track of their communications with students via email, calls and texts, using activities connected to the person in our CRM. Funnel stage is automatically updated in the CRM as we move through our application process, so that is not a manually updated field.

In terms of process management and keeping data clean, we have checkpoints throughout the process where our Applications Office is verifying that the information matches up across the various inputsensuring their start date, entry term and program are correct. As I prepare our Weekly Recruitment Report, I also look for discrepancies and errors so that we can work quickly to get those resolved. We have a process in place to manage duplicate records in the system, and we are constantly working to improve that process. Keeping the data clean and uniform is key to good reporting. Training and equipping our team well to maintain good information is an important piece of the process.



CC: Are the Campaign, Medium, Source and Origin Source predefined CRM fields or are you standardizing query string parameters to feed custom fields?

KB: Campaign, Medium, and Source are not fields that were initially in our CRM before working with Converge. They are custom fields that we added in an effort to most closely track the origin of a digital lead. Origin Source is a field that came delivered with our CRM. For us, origin sources for leads are typically Phone from Student, Email from Student, Web Inquiry or Online Application. When we started running advertising with Converge, we added a specific new Origin Source within the options for that field for Landing Page Inquiry. This helps us differentiate even between the leads that come in through our institutional website and the landing pages that we have set up for our campaigns.

The leads we receive from our digital marketing efforts essentially have four fields that help us know how they entered our inquiry pool – Origin Source (Landing Page Inquiry), Marketing Source (ex. Facebook), Medium (ex. cpc – Cost per Click), Marketing Campaign (ex. MBA – Education Level).

We pay special attention to making sure these fields are kept consistent throughout the funnel so we can measure the effectiveness of our digital efforts in general, but also be able to drill deeper to see how various platforms are performing. As an additional audit, I have a view set up that shows when someone has some fields that show they are a digital advertising lead, but others that indicate otherwise. These are usually the result of duplicate merging errors. The audit view allows us to find the errors and correct them to maintain accurate data.


CC: How important is consistency in the use of CRM and software to the level of detail you can provide in your reporting?

KB: The importance of consistency cannot be overstated. In order to provide accurate data in terms of conversion rates or overall performance of a specific detail in the admissions process, the data needs to be uniform. If someone starts tracking something using a different field entry than we’ve been typically using, it causes us to not be able to provide accurate numbers. To manage this, we give option sets for most fields, rather than asking recruiters (or others) to enter free-form text into fields. They choose from an option set for program, entry term, start date, etc. In the same way, the Origin Source field offers a specific list of options. This helps to eliminate the possibility of human error in data entry because they are choosing from a list rather than directly typing into the fields. When the data contains consistent themes in the various fields, it makes it much easier to manipulate to get the reports you need to show. Consistent use of the system makes for clean data, and clean data makes for great reporting.


CC: If you had one piece of advice to offer your colleagues in marketing and admissions when it comes to reporting, what would it be?

KB: My advice is to just start somewhere. The task of developing extensive reporting can seem like a project too large to begin. It takes work, but just a few tweaks in your system can set you up to deliver better reports. Even two years ago, our reporting was not as detailed as it is today. For us, it started with a question: “Can we measure ________?” The end of that question included data points like projections from recruiters, admissions funnel data per group start, lead information per source/program, conversion rates per recruiter/program/source, etc.

With those thoughts in mind, we started with what we’d like to show, and then built the system in a way that would deliver that data. If you’re not data-minded, get someone on your team who is, and utilize them to map out what this looks like from start to finish. Initially, it can be difficult because you don’t have previous years of good data to measure against, but setting up the structure for the future and eventual year-over-year analysis is key. Along the way, we still come across new pieces of data to measure, and we continue to improve our structure and reporting methods to best tell our recruitment story.  



The process of gathering requirements is a crucial piece in identifying Key Performance Indicators and establishing measurement strategies. Metrics should help tell stories and drive actions, so designing the narrative is key. As Katie mentions, “working backwards” is an effective means of implementation.

CRMs have evolved to allow users to pass virtually any piece of information with an associated record. The standard means of implementation generally involves “mapping” key values to columns or fields. Users may also take advantage of custom fields to pass Google Analytics data, for example, into the CRM as a creative way around mapping media campaigns.

Ultimately, stakeholders in the enrollment process should be equipped with the information that allows them to be proactive in their digital acquisition efforts, and the ability to forecast yield based on actual data.


Want more insights on EDU measurement strategies? Check out our recent post on the new Google Analytics Intelligence feature and what it means for education.

Converge Consulting Lands on Inc. 5000 for Two Consecutive Years

Converge Lands on Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List for Second Straight Year

Inc. 5000 just announced its 2017 Fastest Growing Companies and Converge Consulting made the list. Ranking 2037 out of 5000, the agency lands among the top 50 percent of recognized companies. This is the second time Converge has landed on the list, putting it among an elite population—one in three companies—to rank for two consecutive years.

In 2016, Converge was 378 among the prestigious Inc. 500 and the #1 Fastest Growing Company in Iowa. Rapid growth from its headquarters in both Cedar Rapids and Philadelphia, along with partnerships at colleges and universities across the country, has fueled brand momentum and increased marketplace visibility for the agency.

“Our goals for growth are designed to match the evolution of our industry,” said Jay Kelly, President & Co-Founder of Converge Consulting. “We are excited to see what the future holds as our partners lead the next era of education innovation.”

2017 has proven to be another successful year for Converge on all fronts. The agency received three Educational Advertising Awards this spring for its work with Brescia University College, Canada’s Only Women’s University, in London, Ontario. Converge also ranked for a second year in a row among the Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies in the Cedar Rapids – Iowa City Corridor.

“These entrepreneurial endeavors, and the wealth that they create, are important lessons for our region to hear, so that their successes can be replicated and nurtured,” said John Lohman, CEO & Publisher at Corridor Business Journal.

Converge recently launched a new website, expanded service lines and landed among Harvard Business Review, Verizon and CBS International as a finalist in Digiday’s WorkLife Awards. These advancements and recognitions solidify the company’s standing as a leading digital agency for education.

Converge Consulting is the digital agency for education with offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Visit the company’s website for more information.

What EDU Brands Can Learn from Fashion

What Education Brands Can Learn from Fashion Brands

I’m a big fan of Glossy. Have you heard of it? Our CEO wrote an article earlier this summer on must-read publications for EDU marketers, and Glossy made the list. Their daily newsletter shares quick updates on big things happening in fashion technology, giving readers a glimpse into stories from some of the most loved brands in the world.

So where am I going with this? What do education brands and fashion brands have in common? It might be surprising, but education has a lot to learn from fashion brands. Why, you ask?

  • Behind-the-scenes fashion publication Coveteur has 1.1 million Instagram followers.
  • Popular online retailer Modcloth has 1.5 million Facebook likes.
  • Kylie Jenner has 30 million Snapchat followers… and higher ed is just getting around to using the platform.

Higher education is a competitive marketplace—just like the world of  fashion. Brands that win are bold, embracing their point of view and brand personality to build connections with their followers. Keep reading for examples of what fashion brands do really well that I believe education brands can use to evolve their positioning, stay competitive and get results.

Listen to consumers and don’t hesitate to adapt.

Fashion brands are unafraid to ask for feedback and pivot accordingly. They stay ahead of the curve when it comes to consumer behavior, and they act on their findings. OVS, an Italian clothing retailer, saw an opportunity to enhance the digital shopping experience for its customers. They used Google Enterprise to develop a cutting-edge technology allowing a multi-sensory experience both in-store and online.

Digital natives are one of the most talked about generations in history. Research from Measuring the Information Society, an annual report on information and communication technologies, shows that digital natives consume information differently than any other generation:

“They [digital natives] are characterized as being impatient with slower, systematic means of acquiring information and knowledge, and expect instant response and gratification or rewards from technologies they use.”

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Measuring the Information Society (2013).

Hats off to Columbia College Chicago Online who is leading the education industry into a new era with a retail course model designed for the next generation of students.

Create digital experiences that feel good.

Fashion brands are pros at designing digital experiences that feel personal and real. They invest precious dollars, time and resources into curating the perfect customer experience. I mentioned Coveteur earlier, they recently announced Coveteur Creative, an in-house content studio testing innovative campaigns to connect with their followers. 

What EDU Brands Can Learn from Fashion Brands

Georgia State University put some thought into the ideal digital user experience and magic happened. They designed an admitted student app that reduced summer melt by 21.4% and generated a 3.9% increase in enrollment

Embrace your personality and point of view.

Cause marketing is a beautiful thing that fashion brands embrace head on. Amazon is exploring opportunities to get into editorial and craft a point of view for their brand. H&M used Instagram to generate buzz and build momentum for its latest sub-brand before it even hit stores. This excerpt from the aforementioned H&M article perfectly summarizes the evolving function of social media in cultivating brand loyalty:  

“The influence and reach of Instagram and other social channels has prompted a shift in how brands see social, from pure brand awareness to channels that can also be used for commerce,” he said. “Smart brands will increasingly use social media to introduce their followers to products they never knew existed, as well as to tell a broader narrative about the brand.”

Most education brands have social media accounts, but few venture outside of fail-safe content like program spotlights, student life, athletics promos and campus beauty shots. Grinnell College is among the bold few to stand out with a unique brand personality. Their tone is direct with a bit of dark humor that resonates with Grinnellians (their community). They’re unafraid to be bold and true to their brand, and that’s pretty impressive.

Building brand loyalty in education.

If education brands want to hit the 1M follower mark, there are many things to be learned from other industriesespecially fashion and retail. These brands have loyal followers and social media advocates in spades.

What brand loyalty initiatives are you implementing to engage your audiences? Have feedback on any of the ideas referenced in this post? Tweet me @megancendrowski. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of education brands and how colleges and universities can take inspiration from other verticals to standout in a crowded marketplace.


Converge Expands Service Lines, Launches Website to Partner with Evolving EDU Marketplace

Converge Consulting, a leading digital agency for education, has evolved its brand positioning and launched a new website that inspires innovation in education. The company’s vision is to provide new and next thinking in the education space, focusing heavily on the power of digital strategy in enrollment marketing. The company’s rapid growth over the past six years and evolving marketplace needs have paved the way for expanded service offerings.


The new website launch includes a video series showing the impact of Converge’s partnerships with some of the nation’s top universities including Tulane, Emory and Northwestern. Its brand refresh enables the company to better convey its growth story with new and next service areas including digital, content and web design, as well as data analytics.


“Our new positioning has evolved by listening to the marketplace and the feedback we hear from our partners on a daily basis,” said Ann Oleson, CEO & Founder. “This website is the next iteration of our company, which allows us to expand our offerings to associations, the K-12 market, Ed Tech companies and other non-profits through the power of new and next thinking.”


A new focus on Converge’s conceptual capabilities–bold thinking, expert listening and digital momentum–gives clients a clear picture of the value they receive from the partnership. Converge works with institutions across the world including: business schools, engineering programs, large public universities and small private colleges.  


The company’s focus on attracting the right audience segment and connecting with them via the best channels through compelling messages is a core strength. Brescia University College in London, Ontario, has partnered with Converge for the past eight years to evolve their brand including award-winning recruitment collateral, messaging and stunning advertising campaigns focused on empowering women to accomplish great feats.


“The Converge team is amazing to work with, we are constantly surprised and delighted by their level of creativity and insight,” said Marianne Simm, Vice Principal of Students at Brescia University College, Canada’s only all-women’s university.


Converge’s journey as a leading digital agency for education began six years ago. The agency has since been named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies and the Corridor Business Journal for two consecutive years. Founders Ann Oleson and Jay Kelly have recently fueled more growth by adding a number of new digital strategists and innovative business development consultants to their team, which now totals over 30 members.


About the Company

Converge Consulting is the digital agency for education. We develop sound digital strategy and translate it into campaigns that deliver ROI in a crowded marketplace. Visit the agency’s new website for more resources and information.

Converge Consulting Fosters Rapid Growth and Expands Cedar Rapids Office

Converge Consulting, the digital agency for education, incorporated in 2011 with two employees. In the past five years, the company has grown to 27 team members in its offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Converge landed in the top 10 on the Corridor Business Journal’s List of Fastest Growing Companies for two consecutive years and was named the number one fastest-growing company in Iowa, ranking number nine among education companies nationwide, on the Inc. 5000 list.

The agency’s rapid growth and development began with a move to the Geonetric Building in Cedar Rapids three years ago. Housed in the New Bohemia neighborhood, the location is known for cultivating innovation and growing local businesses.

When Geonetric broke ground for the project in 2012, Converge was one of the first companies to move in. The building is now home to local entrepreneurs in shared coworking space, the Iowa Startup Accelerator and the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative.


“415 is a home for innovation and passion-driven businesses in the Corridor,” said Eric Engelmann, Founder & Board Chairman of Geonetric and Executive Director of NewBoCo. “Converge is an ideal fit for our culture and community.”

With brand momentum and demand in the education market, Converge is projected to grow consistently for the next three years. As the organization embarks on a three-year growth plan, the Geonetric Building was its first choice for expansion.



Converge will be relocating its Cedar Rapids office late this summer. Renovations to the new 4,500 square-foot space are planned in the Geonetric Building. The blueprint includes space for 50 team members, four conference rooms, a resident artist and velocity space.

“When selecting an office space, we knew we wanted to stay in Newbo,” said Ann Oleson, CEO & Founder of Converge. “The talent, energy and ideas created here allow tremendous opportunity for professional development, business growth and community impact.”


The agency’s current space on the first floor of the Geonetric Building is available for lease. For more information on the office or to schedule a tour, please contact Eric Engelmann.

About the Company

Converge is an Inc. 500 digital agency for education with offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Visit the company’s website for more information. 


Digital Audits, Data Viz and 360 Video Insights from University of San Francisco

An interview with Anneliese Mauch, AVP of Marketing at University of San Francisco on all things digital.


The University of San Francisco is a Jesuit Catholic university located in San Francisco, California. If you’ve ever visited the Bay Area, you know San Francisco is not your average college town. The city’s namesake university has infused its brand with that vibrant, effortless San Francisco cool. Even Business Insider agrees, quoting and naming USF the college with the best location.

USF reflects the different cultures, lifestyles and beliefs in San Francisco and the wider world, making it one of the most diverse campuses in the country. The city is the perfect incubator for learning and fresh ideas. We sat down with University of San Francisco’s Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Anneliese Mauch, to discuss a few of her team’s recent initiatives, including a campus-wide digital audit, data visualization and more.



CC: Tell us a little about yourself to get things started. What brought you to USF?
AM: Both of my parents are professors, but I actually don’t come from a professional background in higher education. Before joining the University of San Francisco, I worked in analytics and research, and gradually transitioned into marketing. My last job prior to this role was with Travelocity. I was looking for something equally stimulating as promoting travel, but maybe a little more meaningful. I wanted to be in an organization that was about San Francisco and embrace that through my work.


CC: When we met at the CASE Leadership event, you mentioned a campus-wide digital audit during your first few years on the job. How did you make that happen?
AM: I joined the university right when this office started. Coming from a marketing analytics background, I was used to all things digital. I came in asking, “What are we doing when it comes to paid search?” and heard, “We don’t know, but everyone does what they do on their own individual payment processing, and they might not be experts in digital.”

We decided to hire a firm in San Francisco to conduct a digital audit. We didn’t know who had paid search accounts, so we went to our business and finance department and had them run credit card reports to search for line item, Google. From there, we worked backwards to perform the audit. These insights showed us how much departments across the university were spending and allowed us to take a deeper dive to analyze bid strategy. In total, the audit took about three months.


CC: Smart thinking to come in through the back door with the finance department. Your investigative skills are top-notch. What action items came from the auditing process?
AM: My assumption before the audit was that individual units were bidding against each other all the time, but it honestly wasn’t a huge problem. The bigger issue was that we had people who were not experts bidding on keywords that were irrelevant. The audit revealed the need for a strategic approach to bid placement and comprehensive keyword strategy across the university. We learned a lot from the process and ended up hiring a digital advertising expert to support our university partners with media buying.


CC: Your stories (newsroom) and social media content is very robust. What is your approach to content strategy and how do you manage everything?

AM: My team works very closely with the group that manages our stories. I am particularly excited about our Changemaker Series featuring students, faculty and alumni who are making an impact around the world.

A few years ago, after a very energizing session at the AMA Symposium, we put Story Pitch Meetings in place. Anyone on campus can attend these meetings and pitch a story. Our ideas and leads stem from these discussions. Every other week, a group of us meet to decide which stories we’ll pursue, and we use a digital tool to track who’s doing what. We typically see around 20 leads a month for stories, which is great for our content calendar.


CC: Data visualization is a rising trend for reporting in higher education. Is USF using a tool like Tableau or Google Data Studio for visualized reporting?
AM: Our team started with Data Studio and ended up switching to Tableau, which the university had invested in for our research team. We now use it for all of our digital marketing reporting and have employed students to help set up various reports for clients. It’s allowed us to see, in real-time, what’s happening with all of the departmental budgets.

We look forward to expanding this for more reporting within our office. It’s one of our big initiatives for next year. Everyone loves infographics, and our design group is constantly creating infographics and dashboards for various departments. Tableau enables us to create attractive messaging that is meaningful, up to the minute and much easier to update and push out.



CC: Education marketers are implementing some pretty exciting digital tools. What apps and tech trends are you and your team most excited to test?

AM: 360’ video is exciting to work on. It’s been really fascinating to see companies change in real time to accommodate this new technology. For instance, as recently as February, Vimeo (where we host all our videos) did not support this type of video, and as of March, they had implemented 360’ videos into their viewing software. We’re observing these industry shifts as they happen and know that we are active contributors.

The 360′ video is a great way to highlight our campus for prospective students. It is more effective than the standard virtual tour and is a powerful tool for our younger audience to experience our school. We mainly utilize 360′ on Facebook and on Snapchat via Snapchat Spectacles.


Summer break is here and a new fiscal year is about to begin. Are you testing any of the tools and strategies featured here? What’s your next big idea to promote your institution? Let us know in the comments below!