5 Things You Are Likely Doing Wrong In Your Digital Enrollment Marketing
Updated: Feb 19
The team at Halda has been helping enrollment management teams implement marketing initiatives for the last 15 years. In that time the tools and best practices have drastically changed, yet many teams are still implementing marketing pushes the same way they did in 1985. Here are the top 5 things that you may be doing wrong:
1. Failing to set clear goals
2. Sending paid traffic to your general .edu website
3. No, or very little, digital ad budget for student recruitment
4. Having a campaign mindset with no annual strategy
5. Using only one channel for digital ads
1: Spend The Time To Paint Success
Before you and your student recruitment team does anything else in your marketing planning meeting, please take the time to describe, in some detail, what success looks like. To make this effective, you will need to get much more specific than your overarching enrollment objective. Enrollment marketers are blessed to have so much access to data from their efforts now, but that data can be a double edged sword leading you to get excited about a Click Through Rate when the time spent on page may be what really matters.
The key metrics, channels, and strategies that you should pay the most attention to will be determined by the outcome you are driving for. Do you need better awareness of a niche program in a specific city? Do you need highly qualified inquiries to boost the funnel? Do you need to re-engage people you already have information for? All of these enrollment marketing objectives will need different strategies, tools, and measurement, so it is crucial that you are clear from the onset what it is you want to accomplish. (Doing this also makes it much more fun when you hit your goals!!)
2: Sending Paid Traffic To Your General .edu Site
Rarely, if ever, is it a good idea to send traffic from your digital ads to your homepage or even a sub-page on your main .edu website. The main website for your institution is great at disseminating a lot of information about any topic a browser may be interested in. The problem? Your campaign should deliver extremely targeted and tailored information to a hyper-targeted audience. You should arrange to have a specific landing page built for each digital enrollment marketing campaign you deploy.
A landing page is a useful tool that quickly delivers only the most relevant and convincing content, and drive the viewer to a decision point quickly. It allows you to isolate your traffic and optimize for your target outcomes better than when the traffic quickly becomes lost in the sea of visitors to your institutions main website.
3: No, Or Very Little, Digital Ad Budget For Student Recruitment
Many college enrollment marketing teams are still just dipping their toes into digital marketing as a way to reach their target audience allowing the bulk of their budget to go toward activities that have been tried and true in the past. As you go into your budget meetings this year consider that 48% of Americans aged 18 to 29 report being “almost constantly” online according to Pew Research’s 2019 study:
You should still have a well balanced strategy that uses all the available arrows in your quiver, however, our experience tells us that your team could reach their goals better, faster, and more predictably by doubling or even tripling the dollars allocated to digital recruitment strategies.
4: Having A Campaign Mindset With No Annual Strategy
If you had a whole city to feed fish, would you use a spear gun, or a boat and a net? Probably the latter, right? Many of the university enrollment teams that we have interacted with had been using the “spear gun” approach to their limited digital ad spend firing off single and uncoordinated campaigns here and there hoping to hit a big tuna.
If you want digital ads to play their part in feeding the village, you need a more wholistic and comprehensive approach that ensures digital efforts seamlessly dovetail into and support your overarching strategies and campaigns.
5: Using Only One Channel For Digital Ads
Last, but not least, we have met many teams that think they are “using digital” by running the occasional geofencing or facebook campaign. Apart from these campaigns being riddled with the problems listed above, the teams have found one channel, and it is the only note they know how to play on the piano.
Middle C is a great foundational note for many compositions, but those works would be terribly boring and not useful if C was the only note ever played. Your strategy should include a number of channels and mediums to get the most benefit from your digital ad dollars. Doing this does not necessarily increase the overall expense of a campaign, but leveraging search, social, display, in-app, remarketing, and a custom landing page in a harmonious way will drastically improve your outcomes.
Thanks for reading, and happy recruiting until next time.
Here at Halda we believe in taking care of each other. As part of that, we are committed to helping everyone in Higher Education Admissions become better digital marketers regardless of whether or not we have an official partnership.
We have been running marketing initiatives for institutions both big and small for the last 15 years, and we have noticed that most institutions are having a very difficult time crossing the chasm that separates how things had been done and the better ways they can be done today. We want to help change that.
If you want to get fresh ideas about how to market and recruit for your program(s), then please consider subscribing to our content. We will not be holding anything back. Anything we learn how to do, we promise to share with you so that we can all get better.