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6 Digital Marketing Tips for Graduate Enrollment from NAGAP 2017

I recently returned from a week of great people, great networking opportunities, and great sessions on a variety of graduate admission topics at NAGAP 2017. (The conference for The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management, if you’re unfamiliar!) Salt Lake City provided a beautiful venue, and the feedback on the quality and variety of sessions was overwhelmingly positive.

This year I had the pleasure of presenting to a packed house on the topic of Marketing for the Non-Marketer. My co-presenter was a client and friend: Melanie Steele from Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio. One thing that Melanie and I really wanted to communicate to the group was the importance of a good tailored digital marketing campaign when trying to reach your graduate audience. There is no “one-size-fits-all” model for a successful digital campaign, so if someone is trying to sell you something out of the box…run, Forrest, run!

This is where the deep dive into digital marketing for graduate enrollment begins. We wanted to reach those of you who are in enrollment and challenged with doing your own marketing—even if you are not marketing people.

Below are six quick tips and tricks we provided in our NAGAP presentation that can help you devise a strategic, customized digital marketing campaign for graduate students. (You can also use these tips to challenge your current digital campaign to make sure you are using best practices to maximize your marketing results!)

  1. Beat them to the punch with upper-funnel content: Most online searches begin with vague terminology (e.g., “good MBA programs in Illinois”), so it’s imperative that you run a strategic paid search campaign that will put your school and graduate programs at the top of the search results. Bid on those generic keywords!
  2. Stay in front of students who have shown interest with Retargeting: Segment your audience by Retargeting from program-specific pages, and serve up ads with relevant content. This will help drive conversions! In addition, utilize RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) to customize your search ad campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your ads to these visitors when they're searching on Google.
  3. Use your current lists to expand your search online: Take those lists of non-responders or purchased names and IP Target into their households. You can also target those people directly through Facebook with lead generation ads. In addition, create look-alike audiences to expand your reach and get in front of new faces.
  4. Consider users’ mobile experience: It’s nearly the two-year anniversary of Google’s Mobile Moment (May 5, 2015)—the day mobile queries surpassed traditional desktop queries. If your website is not mobile friendly, you are missing the boat. Your prospective students (and their parents) are mobile, and they want to be able to access your information easily and quickly. If your website is not fully optimized for mobile, at least consider responsive landing page design. Also, use tactics such as Mobile Location Targeting or Mobile Footprints to reach your audience where they are spending most of their time!
  5. Get social: Facebook, Facebook, Facebook! Targeting on Facebook has never had more relevance as it does now. In addition, there’s so much information in Facebook and targeting parameters, it’s never been easier to find your audience. Also, with the addition of Facebook Lead Generation, you can make it simple for students and stakeholders to request information without leaving the Facebook platform. LinkedIn sponsored ads and InMail are also great tactics to target a specific population, particular with the graduate audience. With the ability to filter by career type and degree type, it makes reaching your prospective graduate students a piece of cake!
  6. Last but not least, NSAMCWADLP: Never Start a Marketing Campaign Without A Dedicated Landing Page. If you have to make people think and work in order to find the thing you promised them…they won’t convert.

It was clear, given the interest and discussion in the room, that reaching and engaging graduate-level audiences online is a key challenge and focus for many. The tips above helped clarify some key considerations for our attendees, and we hope they’re helpful for you too!

For more information on any of these tips or a copy of the actual presentation from NAGAP 2017, please e-mail us at info@carnegiecomm.com.

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