This month, we hosted a higher education webinar alongside Google to discuss the digital marketing trends and tactics we are seeing in the education sphere surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. If you missed the webinar, here are the highlights from Mason Interactive’s Brook Shepard and Google’s Stephanie Schmitt.
Lower Advertising Costs for Institutions
No matter your institution’s size and budget allocation for marketing efforts, you want to make sure that you are getting the most value for your advertising budget. In such uncertain times as the past few months, you may have re-evaluated your marketing efforts in order to cut costs.
Since March, many colleges and universities have dropped media spend, and some have gone completely dark. For those that kept media spend live, the Cost Per Impression (CPM) dropped more than 50% from March 1st to April 4th. This meant that media was cheaper if you stayed in the game.
At Mason Interactive, we saw the conversion rates (CVR) holding fairly steady across our higher education clients. “When your CVR is holding steady and the media is cheaper, you will convert students more profitably at a lower rate”, says Brook.
Let’s Talk Attribution
Most of our higher education clients use either First Touch Attribution or Last Touch Attribution. First Touch Attribution is usually a display campaign where you are getting your institution in front of new eyes. Last Touch Attribution is normally a remarketing campaign where you constantly stay relevant to your prospective students. Choosing the correct attribution model for your institution is key to optimal enrollments. Not sure what is the right attribution model for you? Talk to our experts today to find out.
Now, let’s see how attribution plays a role in attracting new students…
“Leaky Student Bucket”
What is a leaky bucket in digital marketing? Well, similar to a leaky bucket in real life, whatever is in the bucket will continue to diminish unless it is constantly replaced. For many different reasons, we always have leads that tend to fall off, or leak out of the bucket.
Have you had to cut media spend in the past few months to increase efficiency and only focus on one level of attribution? Let’s say you decide to only focus on remarketing. Now, you have a leaky bucket of students that you are remarketing to, but you are not refilling the bucket. Soon, your bucket will be empty and you will have no one to remarket to.
That is the problem with only focusing on one single level of attribution at once; it causes your bucket to leak and your leads to run dry.
How do you fix a leaky bucket? You have to understand that everything in your marketing strategy is connected. What you do in one part of your marketing funnel can affect other parts of the marketing funnel.
Marketing Trends During COVID-19
The trends that we have been seeing over the past few months with our education clients are actually quite contrary to some initial assumptions. The majority of students are still planning on going back to school for the fall semester. Using Google survey data from March 2020, a whopping 56% of students say that Coronavirus has NOT changed their plans to go back to school.
Now, this does not mean the entire student body will be flocking back to campus in August. In fact, students who say that an online offering is an important factor when looking at schools went from 35% to 47%. Students are still holding onto their intentions of enrolling but are looking for alternatives to the traditional college experience.
In addition to online offerings being a big ticket item, the demand for education and training has increased almost 10% YoY.
99% of students have no plans to delay their education even if there is no resolution to COVID-19 by Q3. Clearly, COVID-19 has had little to no impact on student’s upcoming education plans; even more of a reason to stay active in your media campaign.
Keep the Funnel Full
Keeping the marketing funnel full will require new ways of thinking now that people are living in a new normal. Focusing on specific aspects of your campaign will help to maximize your efficiency. Timing is very important because you want to know that your prospective students will see your ads when they are online. Since most people are working from home and online pretty much all the time, you want to make sure your ads do not just run the typical workday hours.
Introducing flexibility in programs if possible is also highly recommended. For those students that do not feel comfortable returning to campus, they want to have an online learning environment available.
Gone are the days of showing ads with large groups of students enjoying their time together. We cannot show people what they can’t have. Revised creative copy can easily be overlooked, but it makes a huge impact on those that see your ads as ‘insensitive’.
Why Having an Agency Partner Makes a Difference
Mason Interactive is a Premier Google Partner, offering an exclusive partnership. Only the top 5% of agencies in the nation are given the coveted title and we are proud to work with the full team at Google. For our clients this means exclusive access to Google insights and latest tools months ahead of the public.
Schedule a free consultation with us today to discuss more about your institution’s digital strategy.