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For many years, the Hearst Connecticut Media Group has been privileged to partner with private and parochial schools, universities and community colleges on successful program and enrollment marketing initiatives.
Whether a high school or 4-year institution, we’ve noted common messaging themes and platforms that have resulted in higher awareness and attendance. Education marketers, when formulating your media plans, we recommend bearing the following in mind:
First, establish KPIs
Your Key Performance Indicators will vary by campaign. At the top of the list is most likely filling seats. For an online university, that translates to registrations. Departments may have unique agendas and priorities; the athletic coach is looking to recruit talent and fill stadiums…the head of graduate studies needs to promote an MBA class. Greater web traffic, more video views, social media followers and email sign-ups are also routinely-expected returns on marketing investments.
What type of content captures the interest of parental and student audiences? Again, it varies by campaign, type of school and KPIs. Virtual tours of the physical grounds are extremely popular, along with open houses. Financial aid is a must-mention, program and population diversity essential. Underleveraged but potent are testimonials…from alumni (“I landed a great job thanks to ___”), the current student body, teachers, faculty, parents. Even endorsements from employers.
Getting the word out
A multichannel approach usually renders the best results, as off- and online mediums working in tandem create a lift or “halo” effect, boosting recognition and conversions. Facebook/Instagram, email, contextual (adjacent to relevant editorial) and site-retargeted programmatic banners have all proven super-effective for our Edu clients, as they allow for surgical prospect targeting by age, income, geos and interests. And let’s not forget print: front-page newspaper strips, glossy magazine ads and direct mail pieces have tremendous disruptive, visual staying and swaying power.
Whether advertising efforts are managed entirely in-house, outsourced to an agency, or a hybrid of the two, transparency and optimization should be your two words to live by. Regular reporting feedback is key to budget allocation and A/B testing…i.e, this email’s subject line didn’t result in a substantial open rate, let’s try another…we want to reach recent high school grads, Facebook tends to reach a 35+ user, let’s shift some Facebook dollars to Instagram.