We recently attended University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s (UPCEA) online leadership conference, where Keypath’s VP of enrollment partnerships Jeremy Schoen participated in a panel. Read his answers to questions about the latest trends in enrollment marketing.
Q. What is working and what are the latest trends?
A. Social media is absolutely working in the research phase of the student enrollment funnel. There is a great opportunity to reach the public about your programs and what graduates are doing with their degree from your school. Paid social also has our lowest cost per inquiries in the paid digital space after branded terms and retargeting ads. Still, not enough schools are capitalizing on social (Instagram in particular).
YouTube video ads are growing. Engagement surveys are coming back very positive for people recalling brands and also taking action. They are also getting very close to getting the attribution of video ads down to see the actual ROI. This is a way to break into new online markets and we are just asking to be a part of their consideration school set with branding efforts.
Q. What about program specific marketing trends and performance in social?
A. Program specific bidding and cost per clicks have started to flatten out at very expensive rate. The average cost per clicks for non-profit universities on branded terms is at $5 for 2016, and program specific clicks are averaging $19 for the past two years. It was at $1 for brand and $10 for non-brand clicks in 2013. Because of this we have more and more clients turning to program niched sites. We have a strategic plan to further grow our program specific sites we own and operate to offer clicks and inquiries at a fraction of CPCs and CPI from paid search ads.
Q. How do you stay focused as competition and number of online programs continue to grow?
A. These four strategies are important:
- Stay true to yourself and your brand. Identifying unique sales propositions, values, niche offerings and getting those across in all of your messaging is key.
- Focus on outcomes and the job demand that you fulfill. I cannot stress enough the relationships you need to have with major employers in your markets.
- Don’t try to grow too fast. Understand where you can and should be competitive and then scale slowly. Most schools, even online, still should be recruiting regionally.
- Finally test, test, test. We like to have 10% of our budget allocated to proving to ourselves that we are doing the right things or finding new opportunities.
Q. What’s NOT working?
A. Print ads, direct mail, any communication where your targets are not. Or blasting out direct mail campaigns because that's what you've always done. That means calling and emailing when they want a text or live chat. Also a non- holistic approach to marketing. It’s so important that the messaging and connective tissue is in place between all the different channels. Also, like I have mentioned already social is not being invested properly by many schools. They are getting better and better over the years being able to target and find your audience.
Q. How should you build these strategies into your overall marketing mix?
A. How these strategies fit into your overall marketing mix is to remember to do it with purpose and goals. You should be doing extensive research BEFORE investing marketing dollars – overall student interest, program specific evaluations, competitive landscape, average CPC’s for specific markets (by program), etc. Questions we need to ask to determine implementation in the overall marketing mix:
- Why should or should you not be here?
How is this channel best used?
What is my audience wanting at this point in their search for a school?