Digital advertising is an ever-changing landscape, and while depending on your tried-and-true platforms to connect with your audiences can be useful, it’s also beneficial to think outside of the box and come up with creative and different—#newandnext—ways to get in front of your audience in other places they spend time online. There are several options, from contextually to behaviorally relevant placements, but did you know that these placements can help to generate and nurture leads through multiple stages of the enrollment funnel? Read on to find out more…
There are many ways to generate awareness for a school/program, and display advertising is near the top of that list. While it’s true that display advertising doesn’t always register highly for engagement and action, it’s an effective way to expose your brand to new prospects, and aid in brand recall when prospects encounter your brand again in their online travels. Display ads can be targeted behaviorally and/or contextually. While some think that contextual targeting is overrated, being in front of your audience where they are likely to be is quite often beneficial. For business schools in particular, there are a few go-to sites that MBA candidates are sure to visit: rankings sites, US News, Businessweek and Forbes, for example. Every MBA looks at program rankings, and ways to get the inside edge on applying/admissions. There are myriad opportunities to put your brand in front of prospective students on these sites.
OK. You’ve gotten your brand and programs exposed to your prospects, but how do you ensure you continue to be in front of them to help educate them about your program and drive them further down the enrollment funnel? Now, it’s time to focus on sites that specialize in audiences similar to those that make up your program. Sites like Poets & Quants, Forté Foundation, and Clear Admit go deeper than rankings, focusing more on a specific area or audience (e.g., Forté Foundation is women-focused), but also providing some interesting targeting options. Chief among these is conquesting, which allows one school to buy the ads on the profile page of another school. Especially if the school doing the conquesting has a new program for which the other school is known, this is a creative way to highlight that program which may not yet have as much brand awareness.
The prospects know about your brand/program and you’ve made it into their consideration set; now it’s time to get them to inquire and engage with the program. There are options for that as well! The Princeton Review has a lead-generation ad offering, that presents your school to prospects as they sign up for a Princeton Review test-prep account, and makes it seamless for them to inquire and become a lead—relevant info that Princeton Review captures as part of their account sign-up is sent to your school, allowing you to enter the prospect into your communication workflow and nurture the lead. Beyond inquiry, it’s time to engage with the prospects. IvyExec has custom webinar offerings that allow for a deeper level of engagement with prospects who have expressed interests in your programs.
With all these New & Next ad options to generate awareness, drive consideration and prompt inquiry and engagement, when do you focus on applications and enrollment? The answer is: throughout the whole process. Each of these tactics provide multiple opportunities to add prospects to your CRM system to further nurture the lead, as well as generate great data for retargeting campaigns encouraging your prospects to apply to your program. This stage of the enrollment funnel lends itself to behavioral targeting (see? We got around to behavioral targeting!) since the prospect has taken the requisite series of actions that indicate their interest in your program. This is where your communication workflows can also shine and help convert a prospect from a lead to an applicant (and hopefully a student).
Even though these New & Next options allow promotion of programs and schools to prospects throughout all phases of the enrollment funnel, they shouldn’t be the only tactics you use. Other more tried-and-true platforms (search, social media, etc.) absolutely still have their place in a program’s marketing mix, and also help drive prospects down the funnel. Taking a holistic approach to your marketing will allow you to get your brand and programs in front of the right folks, in the right places, to drive the right actions.