Friday, May 9, 2014

Higher Ed Marketers: Spend your budget wisely, position your brand, and save your program from extinction

For a higher education marketer, a relevant and metrics based interactive marketing strategy is the only way to keep up in the quickly evolving field of online education. As the owner of a consulting firm built around implementing efficient and effective marketing and recruiting strategies within higher education, I have found two articles that provide a fantastic overview on best practices for education marketers.

Noel-Levitz, a mainstay in the higher education consulting field for over 40-years, released a blog post highlighting the effectiveness of landing pages on campaign efficiency and student recruitment. The author, Michael Lofstead, states: “Marketers are inviting someone who had the courtesy to take them up on their call-to-action to “learn more” or “request information today” to wander around the school’s Web site—unchaperoned and unguided”. While slightly sarcastic, this quote hits the nail on the head. Driving traffic through the use of a call-to-action to a landing page that matches the users initial intention is a must. These landing pages should be simple and straightforward, but still provide enough insight about your university program to excite the potential student and get them interested in taking the next step. While landing pages to a great drop of incentivizing traffic to take the next step down the conversion process, driving the right type of traffic can have a large effect of the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

 Source: Pros Inc - Internet Solutions

An article by EDUniverse takes a look at the main two sources of high quality traffic for online masters programs: PPC and SEO. Philippe Taza does a great job of explaining the pro’s and con’s of each, but makes a point in that the direction you go is dependent on the current situation of your program. If your program already has the foundations in place on the SEO side, then implementing an effective paid advertising campaign might be the best way to go, and vice versa. Having the pieces in place to accurately measure the effectiveness of your interactive marketing campaign is essential to understand what traffic sources should be invested in.

After reviewing these articles, the following action items are highly recommended as a best-practice within Higher Education marketing:
  • Landing Pages are Key - Landing pages help to convert your traffic to lead or sale at a much higher rate, and are key from an ROI standpoint.
  • Implement a Tracking Solution - Understanding the quality of various traffic sources through analyzing analytics data can provide insight into what campaigns are working.
  • Introduce Both PPC & SEO - Both are proven high quality traffic sources within Higher Ed.

In Higher Education today, marketers must utilize up to date marketing techniques to reach, engage, and convert potential students. Implementing these best practices in order to more effectively spend and analyze your marketing budget could be the key to keeping your program alive.

Robert Lee is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and is the owner of Circa Interactive, a Higher Education interactive marketing firm. Follow Circa at @circaSEO and Robert at @frothinEduSEO

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