Digital Byte: How to Hit Your Prospective Student Targets with IP Precision

One of the shiny new toys in 2014’s online marketing shop is, without a doubt, IP targeting. The idea of reaching specific residences of your prospective audience and serving unique messaging to them through banner advertising excites marketing and admission folk alike.

While a targeted online display program is great for branding and awareness, IP targeting is an ideal method for reaching an audience you already know on some level is your ideal audience. You can reach students who are serious contenders for your institution with practically pinpoint accuracy. And it doesn’t stop there—friends, parents, siblings, and any other stakeholder in the home using that router or WiFi will get targeted, thus maximizing your reach and your budget.

Here’s how it works: You start with a mailing list—maybe a search buy, your inquiry pool, a non-responder’s list, or even an accepted applicants list. We then use the street addresses from that list to determine the IP addresses associated with that home. Those IP addresses are used as the geographical territory for your banner ad campaign (and yours only!). Your impressions appear on hundreds of websites that participate in the ad exchange networks on multiple devices, so you’re in front of your audience wherever they spend time online.

Those who click on an ad can be taken to a designated landing page unique to their interests in your institution. For example, if your addresses are for students who have been accepted but haven’t decided, you could point them to a video portfolio highlighting student testimonials. This allows you to reach them while they’re in the key decision-making phase, remind them of your institution’s offerings, and show them through emotion-driven content why they should choose your school. 

IP targeting works in tandem with other marketing programs as well. For example, you can maximize your Search mailings by targeting the very same prospects online. Through this powerful match, you can coordinate your online effort with your direct mail to deliver ads before, during, and after your mailing hits. And why not take it one step further, with Retargeting? Once someone is served a banner ad via IP, they can click on the ad or even visit the site organically and be eligible for Retargeting—ensuring that person then sees more ads related to the area of your website they visited. Audience segmentation at its finest!

While there are several marketing opportunities to help with recruitment this year, IP targeting is sure to be a hit. It just screams accuracy and efficiency (okay, with a slight hint of creepy). But, personally, if I were on the receiving end, I would much rather see an ad for something I’m remotely interested in than not! So from a user perspective, it’s not so much creepy as it is convenient. Instead of thinking Big Brother, think bull’s-eye, and get started on a creative, out-out-the box IP targeting strategy now!

Follow Angie on Twitter @AngieMayWard

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