Many of you might remember my post on frequently asked questions about digital advertising in higher education from a few months ago. During my on-boarding at Converge and transition from admissions to agency, I had several enlightening conversations with our digital strategy team. As I wrapped my head around acronyms that are new to me and reflected on everything I learned, I found answers, but I also discovered new questions.
My last post focused on navigating the digital space and understanding ROI on a more macro level. Naturally, I wanted to hear what it all meant on a more micro-level. I want to know how this information can help marketing and admissions professionals better understand the value of the digital space. What can digital really do to help admissions offices achieve their goals? Once again, my old friend John Staak stepped up to the plate and didn’t hesitate to find time for us to connect—despite his busy life as an MBA student and part-time Converge consultant.
Here are four more FAQs about digital advertising addressed for higher education:
There are a few things that all higher education institutions should really consider and know when calculating return on investment for digital advertising spend.
If your institution has not run any digital advertising and is considering this option, you can use the following information to calculate a projected ROI based on a specific budget. Here’s an example for context:
At $20,000 in total ad spend, a $200 average CPL, 7% lead-to-application rate, 15% application-to-enrollment rate, and $100,000 revenue per enrollment – projected ROI would be:
$10,000 spend / $200 CPL = 100 Leads
100 Leads x 7% Lead-to-Application Rate = 7 Applications
7 Applications x 15% Application-to-Enrollment Rate = ~1 student
1 student = $100,000 in revenue
$100,000 revenue – $35,000 cost / $35,000 cost = 1.86 or 186% ROI
We highly recommend a year-round digital presence because recruitment never really stops. However, there are certainly periods throughout the year that merit more aggressive ad budgets. Strategic budget allocation by month will also depend quite a bit on the trends your specific institution observes. It is always best practice to review Google Analytics data over the past few years to identify which periods throughout the year tend to see more traffic – particularly, more traffic to ‘admissions’ related pages.
Traffic to your site will reflect patterns in enrollment and application activity observed by your admissions team. When students are in ‘application’ mode (as reflected by web traffic and data from your admissions team), we recommend being more aggressive with digital ad spend to encourage consideration of your institution. Test dates are also important to pay attention to when planning advertising budgets.
And finally, leverage your application deadline with digital advertising campaigns that specifically call out the date. We particularly encourage ramping up ads that call out the deadline among your remarketing and email lists, as these prospects are already considering your program. This helps create some urgency and provides the nudge some prospects need to start their application.
If your institution is on a tight budget, which I would consider $500-$2,000 per month on ad spend (depending on your market), there are a few channels and tactics I would recommend employing first. Remarketing and email list targeting on display networks and social channels is the most cost-effective tactic in terms of reaching an already engaged audience. If your institution already has strong brand awareness and you are looking to supplement your enrollment efforts with digital, remarketing would be a no brainer. If you are a lesser-known school that needs to focus on generating awareness on a limited budget, I would consider running the following tactics in addition to remarketing:
If your institution has a strong brand presence and you have some additional budget after remarketing, I recommend focusing on a search engine marketing strategy the uses strictly branded search terms (users searching for your law school). You will see much lower cost-per-clicks, and this will without a doubt be the best use of your limited budget. From there, go ahead and expand to some more general search terms as the budget becomes available.
At a glance (and without past experience) the value of digital can be tricky to define. But a sound mix of digital advertising strategies will increase brand awareness, drum up interest and engage prospects in the enrollment journey. I hope these insights help you gain a better understanding of why digital is vital to EDU marketing campaigns. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact me directly or tweet us @convergeorg.