April 27, 2020

Learnings from the Higher Education Marketing Conference 2018

The Higher Education Marketing Conference 2018 descended on Oxford Circus, in central London last week (April 17) welcoming over one hundred and eighty higher education marketers.

Painting a picture of the Higher Education landscape

The morning Keynote from Ann Fernandez, Director of Marketing & Communications at Bournemouth University, set the tone for the day. She explored the theme of brand perception, how to communicate university visions, values and brand and how to build an integrated marketing strategy. This led neatly into the day’s speaker line-up which was packed with practical and tangible ideas for effectively marketing to and engaging students using 360-degree campaigns.

The teachings continued by our very own Keely Williams, Head of Client Direct and Higher Education specialist at Admedo, who discussed tactics higher education marketers could employ to elevate their brand and reach more students. Below are the highlights from her session.

Practial Insight on using Programmatic to elevate your brand

Programmatic is a channel that is incredibly responsive to the changing needs of university marketing teams. With marketers’ budget’s being squeezed and being put under greater scrutiny to deliver enhanced ROI, programmatic can be looked as a key channel for driving performance and reaching relevant audiences at scale. Keely broke down the strategy into four stages.

1. Gather and Analyse your Data

Marketers must be able to interrogate their data in order to guide their next campaigns through KPI and goal setting. A goal might be to raise awareness for new courses or be a more direct-response action for data capture. Insights might derive from best performing creative where users may have found city and university facilities drove higher levels of engagement compared to employability messaging, for example. Another learning could be that you know from your historical data that most students come from Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, however, through your programmatic activity you start to see more students applying from Sheffield and York. You can then use this data to refine both your online and offline strategy.

2. Activate your Data

This is effectively how you manage your audience. You will want to refine your bid strategy and prioritise audiences base on their level of interest – how recently they visited the website and how many times, their frequency. A student who has visited ten pages within the past hour is incredibly valuable and should be prioritised within your campaign. Identifying and marking multiple conversion points such as reading the blog, downloading a prospectus or booking an open day enables you to track and optimise.

If you are able to manage your audience effectively your marketing teams can be really responsive to changing university marketing needs. This can be particularly valuable at peak times such as clearing where there might be specific courses that next extra promotion.

3. Execute and Engage Throughout the Lifecycle

More often than not, we think about digital as being applied for lower funnel conversion. However, programmatic is excellent for upper funnel and branding tactics because it can work in tandem with offline channels such as TV, radio and OOH to help capture the portion of your audience that is online only during the awareness stage.

Programmatic Video is an ideal way to promote some of your most engaging content in premium environments to brand new students.  Programmatic video is instrumental in capturing audience engagement as it enables students to visualise your university offering and your story as part of the brand experience.

Native Advertising is a great way to amplify your social media strategy and increase endearment with both UGC and Brand generated content. It is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. Programmatic Native is the ideal format to help achieve brand reach and awareness through delivering targeted and dynamic messaging in the moment using in-feed, in-display and content recommendation native ad formats.

These formats are ideal for content rich university sites. The key metrics would be around engagement rather than optimising to a hard conversion.

Additionally, you should consider Display Advertising. Thoughtful, relevant messaging should be used to further highlight the brand. By layering in contextual geo-targeting you can further increase relevancy. An example of this could be targeting a key event or group of feeder colleges.

4. Optimise

Optimisation should be a continuous part of your campaign, learnings can be taken from areas such as targeting, creative and messaging. Creative and messaging are important when considering engagement and conveying the brand. By implementing intelligent dynamic creative and recommendation solutions, relevancy is taken to a whole new level enabling you to deliver ads that don’t just respond to where the student is on their journey but make recommendations relevant to the individual to help coax them further down on their journey.

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