Here is a scenario most higher education marketing professionals know too well: A prospective student visits your website or landing page, fails to convert into a lead for your admissions team and goes on their way. You’ve invested valuable budget dollars in SEO and PPC campaigns to attract quality prospects, only for them to leave you with nothing. You know they were interested in your degree program at some point, so we as marketers need to make it our mission to get in front of them again and covert them into leads for our admissions teams. So what’s the most effective way to do so? At Circa Interactive we’ve seen this frustration from many of our university partners and have a solution that is highly effective: retargeting.
Considering that 95% of website visitors don’t convert on their first visit (for stand-alone landing pages it’s closer to 80-90%), I always find it surprising to see the majority of institutions and degree programs we work with not taking advantage of this highly effective marketing tool. Retargeting can be the key to exceeding enrollment goals and decreasing your blended cost-per-lead. Yet many programs are unaware it even exists or simply fail to implement it correctly. As a result, they are missing a huge opportunity to reengage with those individuals and turn them into quality inquiries.
The challenge in higher education marketing is that it’s not realistic to expect prospective students to convert on their first interaction with your degree program. Our sales cycle in higher education can be a long one, and rightfully so. It’s a large, costly decision, and we want prospects to give this process its due diligence. This fact, however, is what makes our job as higher education marketers challenging. We must expose our degree program and messaging to a prospect several times before they’ll make the decision to submit their information, and that’s where retargeting shines. Setting up a retargeting campaign should be a staple in any higher education marketing campaign, and here’s why:
95% of website visitors don’t convert on their first visit (85-90% on a landing page)
I can’t stress this enough. Despite your best efforts to generate as much traffic as cost-effectively as possible for your degree program, there is still a large majority of your visitors that won’t convert into an inquiry. Through your SEO, PPC, email and social media efforts, you’re spending valuable budget dollars to drive visitors to your web assets. Retargeting will help you maximize the effectiveness of those dollars and ensure you’re not leaving anything on the table.
Retargeting can produce leads that are easier to work through the admissions funnel.
Despite the frustration felt by higher education marketers and enrollment managers, the inquiries who need to be exposed to the brand several times before converting are generally much easier to move through the admissions process. As a former admissions manager, I can speak to this firsthand. These inquiries have done their research on your program and have made a calculated decision to submit their information to start the process. Through retargeting, you’ve stayed fresh in their mind and successfully reinforced your value propositions, so when they do engage with your admissions reps, they’re quick to apply and are much easier to work with when completing an admissions file. You’re admissions reps will thank you for these quality leads!
Retargeting is cost-effective
If you could pay 1/4th of what you normally pay per click to reengage with past website visitors, would you take advantage of it? You’ve already paid for the first visit, so it’s worth paying the minimal cost to reengage with them on a second. Whether your budget is $1,000 per month or $100,000, I highly recommend retargeting as a cost-effective solution to generating an increase in leads.
The ability to create audience-specific messaging and offers.
Retargeting can be filtered and customized to specific audiences to allow for higher ed marketers to retarget to very specific groups based on where they were in the admissions funnel. For example, a prospective student filled out page one of your online application but failed to complete pages two or three. Through retargeting, we have the ability to serve highly targeted ads to that individual with copy that will entice them to reengage. A few things to consider in this situation when creating ad and landing page copy: Why did they bounce in the first place? Is the application too long? Did they get distracted? Were they missing the information that the application asked for and needed time to search for it? It’s important to have an understanding of this and design your retargeting segments and ad copy accordingly.
Leverage retargeting to engage with accepted or current students
Retention is vital in higher education, and with retargeting, you can engage with your top prospects. Leveraging CRM retargeting, you can upload a list of email addresses and serve those individuals display ads across the web. This can be especially powerful for those degree programs with long enrollment periods that require enrollment advisors to maintain constant contact to ensure they stick through the start of the program or for reengaging top candidates who you haven’t heard back from and would like to subtly reengage without calling them daily.
So are you taking advantage of retargeting and have any unique ideas you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below.
- 95% of website visitors don’t convert on their first visit
- Retargeting is cost-effective
- Visitors are already familiar with your brand and degree program – higher chance they’ll convert later
- Ability to deliver audience-specific ad copy or ad copy to reengage prospective students at various parts of the admissions funnel
- Ideal solution for maintaining engagement with accepted students during extended enrollment periods
About the Author:
Clayton Dean is an enrollment management, digital marketing, and business operations expert, leading Circa Interactive’s growth, development, and day-to-day operations. Clayton has successfully assisted dozens of institutions in developing, marketing, and launching degree programs from the ground up. Connect with Clayton on Twitter @circaclayton.