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Best Practices in Interactive Marketing and New Technologies

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Presentation given at ACHE 2010

Presentation given at ACHE 2010

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  • When you are planning the social media portion of your conversational marketing campaign, please keep in mind your marketing fundamentals: What are your campaign goals? What segments do your customers naturally collect into? Which segments will you target for your marketing success? What message content will best resonate with your target customers? What timing is appropriate for the delivery of your message? How will you measure the success of your campaign? What do you plan to learn from this campaign? How will you leverage these learnings in the future?
  • These initiatives are labor intensive and required dedicated resourcesHighly interactive, provides a way to “listen” to consumers
  • SEO – discuss relevant (e.g., lending vs. borrowing)
  • This simplified process must be explained in terms of tracking components…
  • Traditional media demographic – packages may be cost effective on a per spot basis, but not on a CPL basis
  • Define persistency vs. retention in terms of counselors’ impact
  • Mention systems designed by aggregators and conflict of interestSparkroom, ED, Cunet, etc.
  • This simplified process must be explained in terms of tracking components…

Best Practices in Interactive Marketing and New Technologies Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Best Practices in Interactive Marketing & New Technologies2010 ACHE Annual Conference & Meeting
    Marcelo Parravicini
    Marketing Director
    Post University
    Brad Gibbs
    Chief Growth Officer
    PlattForm Higher Education
  • 2. Table of Contents
    Conversational marketing
    Internet/interactive marketing options
    Search engine optimization
    Paid search
    Affiliate marketing
    Traditional marketing & offline activation
    Integrated admissions process
    Formulating ROI-driven interactive marketing strategies
    ROI metrics
  • 3. Marketing (both internet and traditional) has evolved from a transaction-based effort to a conversation
    That conversation is often a 3-way discussion
    Peer-to-peer feedback is highly sought and perceived as unbiased by prospective students
    It is not the selling proposition, it is what current/former students have to say about their experience with the university
    The fear factor – When researching online education options, most prospective students look for assurances
    Highly crowded, democratic landscape confuses students
    Students want to know:
    “Are you a real university?”
    “Are you accredited?”; “What does it mean?”
    MOST STUDENTS SEEK FOR ANSWERS FROM THEIR PEERS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
    Conversational Marketing:Who’s Driving the Conversation?
  • 4. Social media has become an important source of peer-to-peer feedback about products and services
    Opens communications with both current and prospective students
    Challenge: negative postings! There is such thing as disgruntled students
    Opportunity: address problems and concerns as these arise, resulting in an improved brand image
    Students looking for information are more likely to post a question on a social network than to call the university directly
    No room for big brother here! – Student participation decreases when monitoring is perceived; however, it is at times expected
    To effectively integrate social media as part of a conversational marketing strategy, institutions must:
    Engage in conversations
    Offer customer service via social media
    Provide a platform for conversations? Blogs!
    Conversational Marketing:Who’s Driving the Conversation?
  • 5. The most important conversation is not between the university and the prospective students, but rather between the prospect and current students
    Conversational content – What are prospects looking for?
    Ignite the conversation!
    Post relevant questions and see what happens
    Are online universities real?
    What makes an online university “real”?
    - Measurable ROI: generates inquiries, brand awareness, and improves search engine rankings
    Conversational Marketing:Blogs – Drive the Discussion!
  • 6. Search engine marketing/optimization (PPC/SEO)
    Sponsored search engine ads tend to be a higher cost-per-inquiry, but higher converting option
    Sponsored search engine results together with organic rankings increases “click-through-rates”
    Content must be optimized for relevant search phrases/keywords
    Conversions are optimized when results are supported by interactive, targeted landing pages
    Affiliate marketing (CPA/CPI)
    Cost effective tactic quickly increases inquiry flow and share-of-voice
    Highly competitive landscape results in lower conversions than SEM/SEO inquiries
    Display advertising (banners/CPM)
    Low response rate, less targeted, and not cost effective… unless utilized as part of an integrated retargeting campaign
    Email marketing
    Cost-effective and direct way to market and communicate with prospective students who have already shown an interest in your university
    No need for list brokers – over time you will built an email database of students who have agreed and expressly consented to receiving your marketing messages (a CAN-SPAM act. requirement)
    Interactive Marketing Options:Inquiry Funnel Mix
  • 7. Interactive Marketing Options:Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • The education landscape is highly crowded and competitive – in order to maximize the institution’s share-of-voice, SEO must be a component of an integrated interactive marketing strategy
    • 8. Keyword optimization continues to be incorrectly perceived as the main/key component of SEO
    • 9. Trust/authority of host domain, link popularity, and anchor text of external links are critical components of a well executed SEO campaign
    • 10. Other SEO components include:
    • 11. Search-engine-friendly web design
    • 12. Use of meta/title tags
    • 13. Content relevancy (e.g., consumers search for borrowing, refinance, not lending)
  • Interactive Marketing Options:Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • 14. Interactive Marketing Options:Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • 15. Interactive Marketing Options: Paid Search (PPC)
    Integrated Campaign
    PPC is an effective way to gain share-of-voice when organic rankings are not present
    Effectiveness of campaign is dependant on targeted search-phrases
    Broad search phrase results in high impressions, low number of clicks, and non-targeted click-throughs
    Targeted landing pages are critical to visitor-to-inquiry conversion
    Ad copy sets the visitor’s expectations
    Each targeted search phrase must be considered in terms of landing page content
    Both SEO and PPC listings for the same search phrase increases overall click-through rates
  • 16. Interactive Marketing Options:Affiliate Marketing (A.K.A. Aggregators)
    • Aggregators are an effective way to maximize share-of-voice and an affordable source of targeted inquiries
    • 17. CPI ranges from $35 to $120, depending on factors such as how the inquiry is transferred to the call center, or the degree program being promoted (e.g., undergrad vs. grad)
    • 18. While CPI is, and should be an initial point of cost-to-market reference, overall conversion and cost-per-enrollment should be the key metrics used to measured ROI
    • 19. For example, inquiries at a high CPI that convert higher then average are more desirable than low CPL inquiries that hardly convert… more is not always better!
    • 20. Depending on a number of variables, aggregator inquiries convert anywhere from 1% to 4%
  • Traditional Marketing & Offline Activation
    Traditional media (e.g., broadcast & print) can be an important component of an integrated interactive marketing plan
    Effective call-to-actions can drive highly targeted traffic to a specific URL, or to call a unique 800 number
    Challenge: are you reaching the right demographic?
    Awareness campaigns are effective at increasing both paid search and organic traffic
    Brand awareness is likely to drive traffic away from the intended action
    Challenge: it is not always possible to track all traffic to a specific buy
  • 21. Integrated Admissions Process:Impact on Retention & Graduation Rates
    Admissions counselors, not reps
    Enrollment counselors represent the first step in an integrated admissions and counseling program aimed at ensuring student satisfaction, improving persistency and retention, and impacting academic performance, resulting in higher graduation rates
    Tuition planners
    Financing is a significant obstacle in a student’s enrollment process – the short admissions cycle typical of online programs presents many challenges to both the student and the tuition planner (e.g., FAFSA, loan applications, tuition reimbursement)
    Academic advisors
    Work on helping students establish their academic and career goals/aspirations, and coach students into achieving their full academic potential
    Actively review the students' applied curricula, transcripts, test scores, and provides academic recommendations
    Maintain relationships with students and are a critical part of an institution’s ongoing retention programs
    Act as a liaison between students and admissions, registrar’s office, student accounts and financial aid
  • 22. Integrated Admissions Process:Technology and Inquiry Delivery
    Well-established institutions will call a prospective student within a minute of having requested information
    Inquiry delivery to a call center must be executed as close to real-time as possible
    Inquiries not reached within a minute tend to realize lower conversion rates
    Those not reach within the first hour are likely to have a very low reach
    Challenge: most traditional institutions are not setup technologically to handle a real-time recruitment operation
    Solution: integrating marketing systems with student information systems
    Incoming inquiries are generated at inquiry forms or through form postings
    Inquiries are often housed on independent back-ends from which a posting to the student information database will be required (again, as close to real time as possible)
    Once inquiries are posted to the student information system, they are distributed real-time to admission counselors who will start the calling/recruitment process immediately
  • 23. Integrated Admissions Process:Inquiry Delivery Issues
    Depending on the availability of an inquiry management system or not, admissions counselors may be charged with both calling prospective students and keeping a database of “bad inquiries”
    For aggregator buys, bad inquiries are often returned for credit… but, caveat emptor, the devil is in the details
    Reputable aggregators will offer reasonable terms and conditions that outline inquiry return processes; however, technology limitations may hinder the institutions’ ability to return inquiries as agreed resulting in lower conversion rates and higher cost-per-enrollments
    Recommendation: integration of inquiry forms to an inquiry management system is paramount to achieving inquiry delivery integration
  • 24. Formulating ROI-Driven Interactive Marketing Strategies
    Strategic goals
    Increase brand awareness
    Increase enrollments
    Objectives
    Maximize online SOV
    Increase qualified inquiry flow
    Landscape/competitive analysis
    What are your competitors doing?
    What types of competitors are there?
    How crowded is the landscape?
  • 25. Funnel Management
    Integrated Campaign
    The bulk of all inquiries will be received electronically
    Depending on the marketing channel, there are a number of metrics that must be monitored
    For the purpose of measuring education inquiry conversion, the most critical metrics are:
    Cost-per-lead
    Cost-per-enrollment
    Reach
    Inquiry-to-start conversion
    Impressions
    conversion rate
    Visitors
    Inquiries
    Applications
    New enrolled students
  • 26. ROI Metrics
    Conversion metrics
    Cost-to-market/cost-per-enrollment and lifetime value of student
    CPI vs. CPE
    Retention vs. persistency
    Tracking – how to tie enrollments to marketing sources
    Integrating marketing with student information systems
    Landing pages
    Inquiry forms
    Tracking URLs
  • 27. Predictable ROI – Marketing and Sales Must Be Integrated
  • 28. Questions?