A successful digital advertising strategy is one that achieves the objective for which it was created. Although there are multiple paths to a well-configured digital strategy, it’s normal to feel uncertainty about our approach, and whether or not we’re doing things right.
This normally happens when we’re experiencing situations such as not generating enough leads, lack of visibility regarding results and key performance indicators, low closing rates, or complaints from admission reps about the leads they’re receiving.
In this article we’ll delve into the most critical aspects that need to be implemented to have a high-performing digital advertising strategy, especially for higher education institutions.
While having doubts about our key initiatives and processes is normal, identifying what to optimize to ensure the success of our digital endeavors is imperative.
A good place to start is understanding how and why things are done, questioning everything we do and how we do it, and always starting from previously established parameters or references that indicate how we’re performing against our goals.
Understanding the key elements of digital advertising strategies will help us identify what the areas for improvement are.
Be clear and specific about the objective
First, we need to be clear about what we’re trying to achieve, and how we’re tracking our results. By selecting our main KPI, we can easily see if it’s attainable, and how far we are from reaching it. Common KPIs are lead volume, sales goals, ROI, etc.
It’s easy to deviate from the main objective if we lose sight of it and end up making efforts that don’t help to achieve it. We must ask ourselves if the tactics we’re using connect to our objective.
If the goal is to enroll new students, then the mission of the digital advertising strategy is (usually) to bring leads to the admissions team, not forgetting that the key indicators to measure our success are sales and closing rate, not leads.
For branding campaigns, the objective shouldn’t be impressions or CPM, because it is not about having everybody seeing our ad, but rather achieving a certain percentage of reach volume from our target or specific audience.
Sophisticated segmentation strategy
One of the main challenges in digital advertising is reaching the right people. To this end, digital media (platforms/tools/interfaces) have segmentation options from which to create audiences. If we also match that audience with current customer data, we can reach a more tailored audience with a greater probability of generating enrollments. We have seen that these audiences have higher closing rates compared to the from-the-box segments offered by the media.
Creating a media plan for each goal
Having an adequate marketing mix that connects with our objective is also crucial in our digital advertising strategy. The following are criteria needed to select the channels to use:
- Strategy objective: some channels connect more with sales objectives and others with branding objectives. For example, Google Search is more aligned to sales and prospecting objectives, and Facebook can resonate more with branding efforts.
- Goals: depending on how they are, we can find ways to work with channels that connect more with what we’re trying to achieve. For example: Facebook can help generate sales if we use a good strategy of similar audiences.
- Target market profile: some channels allow you to reach very specific customer profiles. For example: LinkedIn has segmentation options that almost no other medium offers. You can reach CEOs of companies with more than 500 employees who studied at top colleges in the Northeast.
Other criteria may include the available budget, specific needs by geographic area, whether for goals or advertising messages, and whether or not the campaign is solely domestic or also overseas, among others.
Having an excellent marketing mix will help us increase the return on investment of our digital advertising campaigns.
Having the best possible measurement
The first step towards optimizing correctly is to measure: we need to have the information as nitty-gritty as possible to identify the data at the source/medium level, the segment or audience level, and the message and keyword level, among others.
Knowing that a student who enrolled came via Facebook doesn’t help us to optimize campaigns, especially if we have 20 different campaigns.
What would be an example of more actionable information?
Knowing that John Doe arrived from a Facebook campaign segmented to a similar audience with an affinity percentage of 3% would be. The specific ad that generated the conversion was a static image with the football team championship photo and an “emotional” type of copy.
This may sound complicated, but it’s possible and necessary if we want the optimization of our campaigns to achieve the best possible results.
Analysis for smart decision-making
These are some decisions that we can make if we analyze the information that we’re measuring, according to what we saw in the previous example:
- Reframe the messages that we are using in our advertising copy.
- Focus investment on what’s producing the best results, whether it’s focusing on certain cities, categories or products.
- Stop allocating budget to channels or segments that are having little to no return on investment.
Furthermore, we must also evaluate the marketing strategy and its impact on sales. It’s possible that the needed optimizations are in the sales pipeline. Some recommendations could be:
- Identify the stages of the sales pipeline with more friction points. Is there a reason why potential students may find it difficult to continue an enrollment process?
- Evaluate the performance of your admissions or acquisitions team. Is there room for improvement? How? Where? Why?
Having a 360º view of what’s happening with our digital advertising efforts and analyzing our data correctly are the first steps to take when we suspect that something’s wrong with our current strategy.
Lastly, let’s revisit our initial statements: if there are specific complaints or causes of dissatisfaction regarding the results we’re having, whether from our bosses, involved collaborators (such as sales reps), or from ourselves, perhaps it’s time to review our current digital advertising strategy in depth.
Is your digital advertising strategy generating the results that you're expecting? If not, make sure to book a one-on-one meeting with us. We’re here to help!