What Digital Products Work Best for Colleges and Universities?Greg Swiszcz
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in spending for colleges and universities. At first, a lot of campuses started to promote their online classes. Since then, online classes are still a topic for discussion. But now, we also see an increase in the promotion of specific schools or programs at each college.
From English as a Second Language (ESL), to Master’s Degree Programs, and your traditional general admission campaigns, colleges, and universities haven’t slowed down their efforts! With an ever changing economy, people are looking for more ways to become a more valued employee.
We see three main products being used for colleges and universities (which could also be used for charter schools, high schools, and trade school recruitment):
With Mobile Conquesting, we’re seeing a lot of Address Targeting campaigns due to the ability to target a database and track visits to campus. Address Targeting is drawing hundreds or even thousands of tiny geo-fences around an address (business or residential) to serve ads to consumers on their mobile phones and tablets. Address Geo-Retargeting is continuing to serve ads to those same people when they leave their houses and use their mobile devices. Advertisers can target a list of current customers, past customers, or any type of first party database list they have collected. These ads can be mobile display or video ads.
With colleges and universities, they typically have data…and lots of it. This data comes in the form of databases of graduating seniors, past students, students who have applied and never enrolled, students that enrolled and never graduated, etc. Being able to utilize their data, we can effectively reach out to these prospective students with targeted messaging.
This type of Address Targeting is also known as Direct Mail for the internet.
But, rather than sending a print piece and getting (maybe) in front of prospective students one time, you can utilize the Address Targeting to reach those households many times throughout each month.
In addition to the Address Targeting, most colleges and universities are also taking advantage of the on-site visit tracking. This allows us to trach a percentage of the potential students who get served the ad and then come onto campus. This helps these marketing departments receive another element that shows ROI. We can even match back enrollment data with marketing data to show those who converted online.
Mobile Conquesting for colleges and universities is great. It targets those potential students on their mobile devices (which we all know they have with them all the time). Mobile is typically used as part of the campaign, focusing on branding and awareness.
Facebook and Instagram are used quite often by colleges and universities due to the popularity of the platforms, and the ability to track conversions from the Facebook/Instagram campaigns. There are lots of options when it comes to targeting audiences on Facebook/Instagram, which is another reason why it’s so heavily used.
This is yet another platform where colleges and universities can leverage their database lists. By utilizing the Custom Audience, these schools are able to find these potential students on Facebook and Instagram and serve custom messaging just to those matched database names. Facebook also allows you to create a look-a-like audience. So, for those schools that would like to find additional potential students, using this opportunity to find people that look like those on their database is a great idea!
Colleges and Universities also have a lot of events. Open Houses, school tours, etc. Using Facebook’s Event Response Ads schools can get an idea as to how many people are interested in the event, see how many people actually RSVP and have a better idea as to how to plan/execute said events.
Behavioral targeting on Facebook/Instagram is also pretty good when it comes to this industry. Being able to target parents with teens or targeting people with some college or even junior college make it an ideal place for colleges and universities to be able to promote many of their programs on this platform.
Lastly, Social Mirror has seen a big uptick in the number of colleges and universities that are using this product. Social Mirror allows the schools to utilize the amazing content that they publish to their social media channels to create ads that can be served to potential students off those platforms.
Some colleges and universities have even started to explore some of the social platforms outside of the traditional Facebook/Instagram. With platforms like TikTok, X (previously Twitter), and even some YouTube channels, these schools are now able to take the content from these channels, and maximize their reach of potential students because now they can reach them outside of these platforms as well.
What I like about Social Mirror is that while Facebook/Instagram has some good targeting, Social Mirror kicks it up a notch. Here are a few of the categories you could choose from:
Also, keep in mind that with Social Mirror, you also can leverage those databases. With the recent enhancement of Social Mirror (coming live this past September 2022), we now have the ability to take that database and serve ads to those users when they are online through the Custom Audience Matching and Lookalike. Here, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Use the data that you have and reach the low hanging fruit.
Speaking of low hanging fruit, don’t forget to include Retargeting. Once your campaign is driving traffic to your website, being able to stay in front of them (top of mind awareness) and follow them as they browse online, allows you to be the school they think of when it’s time to apply.
Whether you’re looking at general admissions, master’s programs, or looking to promote the athletics department at your local community college, state college, or major university, there are many ways to reach potential students.