From Kick to Click: Achieve Graduate Enrollment Goals Through Digital Advertising

What would you do with $5 million in your marketing budget? Well, if you are Budweiser, Doritos, or Amazon, that’s how much you’ll be spending on a 30-second Super Bowl ad this year.

As buzzworthy as these ads will be, there are two problems.

First, they’re not segmented. Let’s just say that my 13-year-old is not part of Budweiser’s target audience—although Doritos is spot on.

Second, they’re not measurable. While there will be reports on how many eyeballs watched Super Bowl 50, how can advertisers tell how many viewers engaged with their particular ad?

The good news for higher education marketers is that there are ways to spend a lot less and get results.

One of the hot digital marketing strategies right now is Pay Per Click (PPC), where you can create highly targeted campaigns and only pay when a prospect clicks on your ad.

Through Google AdWords, you can target your audience based on keywords and location.

Here’s an example of a Google ads for an MBA in Sustainability:

With sponsored Facebook and LinkedIn ads, you can also target your audience based on age, gender, undergraduate program attended, employers, job titles, industries, and more.

As a result, you can tailor campaigns to specific program goals such as increasing underrepresented populations and reaching more prospective students who live out of state.

Both social (Facebook, LinkedIn) and search (Google AdWords) digital advertising can be leveraged to drive prospective students to attend an information session, participate in a webinar, attend a recruitment fair, visit your website, and apply.

Here’s an example of a sponsored Facebook ad for an information session:

Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, yes—but there’s a little more to it than throwing some copy together and choosing a pretty image.

Over the past couple of years, I have been monitoring and analyzing digital ads of business schools. Some of them, like the one here, are examples of best practices. 

Others don’t work as well as they could. And that’s important to note because you want to make the most of the campaign to capture (and covert) the best candidates. 

If the copy isn’t compelling…

If the image isn’t eye catching…

If there isn’t a call to action…

If there isn’t a landing page…

Well, then you are quite likely losing candidates.

So, here’s a quick list of questions to ask when building your campaign:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What is your value proposition?
  3. Does the copy address candidates’ goals and concerns?
  4. Is the messaging creative and does it spark curiosity?
  5. Does the content establish an emotional connection?
  6. Does the image stand out and capture attention?
  7. What is your call to action?
  8. Do you have a dedicated and optimized landing page?

Okay. I have to stop with the last one because this is where I see the biggest fumbles.

Where are you sending prospects when they click on your ad?

If prospects are going to your home or program page on your website, it’s like dropping the ball.

You need to have a landing page. Here’s an example:

After clicking the ad, a prospect goes to this dedicated landing page where he or she fills out a brief (and that’s important) form to receive a brochure or whatever action you choose such as registering for an information session or downloading an e-book on GMAT studying tips such as this one from Haas.

Notice the proof points in the copy and lack of navigation tool bar to distract the reader. You want to keep distractions to a minimum so the prospect completes the desired action. The one way to make this landing page even better is to have the individual look down at the form to direct your eye. 

Now you have the prospect’s name and contact details to include in your lead nurturing campaign. That way your program is top of mind when the prospect is ready to apply so you can take him or her to the end zone—and avoid interception from another program.

So now you’re ready for the big game. Super Recruitment 2016. All you need are the Doritos.

Barbara is an internationally-recognized authority in graduate management recruitment and is pleased to be working with Carnegie Communications, the established leader in higher education integrated marketing solutions, to provide business schools with a wider range of digital marketing strategies to achieve enrollment goals. Learn more about Barbara's background here

Subscribe to Our Blog