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Digital Byte: 3 Key Ways to Improve Your Retargeting Campaigns in 2017

Here at Carnegie we’ve been writing about the benefits of a well-strategized higher education Retargeting plan for years. From advising enrollment marketers on when to implement a Retargeting campaign way back in 2012 to why it’s unlike another billboard drive-by in 2013, and just last year when we wrote about why higher education marketers still need Retargeting.

As if we haven’t boasted about this digital marketing tactic enough, I’ve gone ahead and summarized three simple ways you can step up your Retargeting game for even better results in 2017.

Make sure your Retargeting ads are relevant

These days teens and adults expect their online banner ads to be relevant to them—it’s almost annoying when they’re not. I once heard a friend say, mock-criticizing a consumer information website about cars, “They showed me an ad for a Chevy! Don’t they know I’m a Ford guy by now?”

Don’t run another blanket banner ad campaign, especially when you have information about your visitors’ real interests right at your fingertips! Whether you want to target prospective students, parents, or alumni, you can segment your Retargeting campaign based on the pages they’ve visited on your site, if they’ve already converted or not, where they are geographically, and more.

Consider yield messaging for those who’ve visited application and deposit pages, ensure donor ads appear to those who visit the alumni pages, or show program accolades to parents who are early in the branding phase. No matter who they are—young or old, early or late into the funnel—chances are there’s a smarter way to reach them, and they might be expecting it from you!

Use Retargeting best practices to increase conversions

According to Google, marketers see a 20% increase in conversions when Retargeting is in effect. In fact, at Carnegie we often see Retargeting as the leading source of conversions for higher education. This is because most users don’t convert on the first visit to a website. They need to come back several times before they are willing to even fill out that inquiry form, download the view book, or schedule a tour—let alone apply. This is exactly what Retargeting can help you with—but you gotta do it right!

After you’ve established your goals at a given time, take a look at your audience segmentation options within your website and ensure tracking is set up properly to capture those visitors. Then it’s all about the message match: creating ads and a landing page that match your goals and are relevant to that particular audience you’ve segmented. Also make sure tracking is established from the start. You might even want to consider A/B testing for audiences, ads, and landing pages. Optimize towards what’s working best to maximize your ROI.

Retargeting works best when run in tandem with other higher education marketing strategies that boost awareness. Think social media, paid search, direct marketing efforts, and more. Finally, be realistic about your time frame! Even though Retargeting is a great last-minute result driver, it’s more effective when used over time.

Think beyond the banner ad

Aside from the ads that are shown on the various websites users visit after your site, Retargeting banner ads can take other shapes. Consider targeting student prospects on social media like Facebook, or via content in video and text ads formats. There’s also a beautiful strategy that merges the power of the Google search query with any user who’s been to a specific area of your website for the ultimate Retargeting campaign: remarketing lists for search ads, or RLSA.

Through this technology you can target users based on the area of your website they’ve been to, as well as the specific keywords they’re searching for at that time and other demographic criteria. The ads appear right on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). And like many Retargeting and paid search strategies, you only pay when they click—so those impressions in the SERP are free!

After over five years of imparting my Retargeting love and knowledge with schools, I’m still sticking to it as one of the best digital marketing tactics to implement in 2017. Retargeting, like a fine glass of wine, gets better with time.

Cheers to another year of successful Retargeting!

Got any questions about how to best use Retargeting to boost your enrollment marketing efforts in 2017? Leave a comment or get in touch with us directly!


Angie can be found on twitter @AngieMayWard

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