Our clients–and their trustees–are always on the look out for metrics that demonstrate ROI and success in admissions marketing efforts. Although we’d like to be able to track from the first ad impression through to the enrolled student that arrives on the first day of class, the trackable metrics can only bring us so far.
So, how can we measure success in admissions marketing? One highly satisfying measurement is anecdotal – the stealth applicant, the transfer student, the trustee who says, “I saw your ad,” “I heard your radio spot.”
It is necessary, however, to also carefully track the more concrete measures of campaign success. And there are many different ways to do just that, based on which tactics you’re using.
Digital Advertising Campaigns
A compelling digital ad campaign targeted to the right audience drives traffic to your website and registrants to your events. Digital campaigns encompass many different tactics including banner ads on websites, mobile ads on different apps, video pre-roll and other forms of rich media, and paid advertising on Facebook, among others.
Digital campaigns are inherently easy to track. You can see, in real time, how many people have viewed or clicked on your ad. By using a custom URL or a dedicated landing page (embedded with analytics), it is also possible to track the visitor’s browsing history, their location, and how much time they spent learning about your institution.
Locational information can be key, since we align our geo-targeting strategies with the travel schedules of admissions counselors. Similarly, by using a contextual targeting strategy, information can be gleaned that relates to the profile of prospective students.
Social Media Campaigns
When a social media component is added to a campaign, it allows you to track likes, shares, reposts, retweets, etc; all true measures of audience engagement with a given message. Strategic use of hashtags can also build community around your brand and messages, and can tie in nicely to your content strategy.
Creating unique URLs for the same links on each channel gives you data on how effective each message is on a given social media platform. For example, you may find that your messages about fun events on campus are much more popular on Instagram, while your posts about networking events garner many more clicks on LinkedIn.
Traditional Media Campaigns (Print, Outdoor, Television, and Radio)
Traditional media campaigns are powerful tactics for building brand awareness and driving traffic to campus events. They reach a broader audience, leading to that moment when faculty, staff, alumni, and current students actually see and hear your advertising, engendering pride in the institution and generating word-of-mouth buzz. With event-focused advertising, success is best measured through an uptick in inquiries, registrations, and attendance at admissions events. This is why it is so important to establish a routine for reviewing the advertising schedule and metrics with the admissions team.
Successful Tracking is a Team Effort
There is not one direct line that can be drawn between an advertisement and an enrolled student. However, by regularly reviewing advertising metrics, patterns do emerge that reveal the effectiveness of your media campaign. With this information, you can then adjust your marketing mix to broaden your applicant pool, capture the attention of those that may not know you, and increase your reach to potential students and their families.