Kent Dickinson

About Kent Dickinson

Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.

These Digital Marketing Tips Can Jump-Start your School’s Enrollment

In a recent survey, 51% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 said they could not imagine living without a smartphone. In a separate survey, 78% or high school students said that websites influence their perception of a school. This accentuates the changing landscape and hints toward the future of marketing in the Higher Ed space.

With an increasingly competitive environment, schools are becoming more and more creative when attempting to lure prospective students. We not only need to use our digital marketing budgets carefully, we need to use them creatively, too.

I’d like to share with you just a few ways in which colleges are leveraging digital marketing and social media to successfully jump-start their school’s enrollment.

3 Proven Ways to Boost Enrollment

Social Media can be a great tool for brand awareness and enhancement. That’s just the half of it. Social media can improve retention throughout the admissions funnel as well as to curb “summer melt” (accepted students who never enroll).

Through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, prospective students can stay on top of the application process. You can inform them of important deadlines and answer application questions. Since the vast majority of students use these platforms on a daily basis, social media can make a real difference in improving student yield.

Blogs are a great way to get the word out on deadlines, too. More than that, it’s a place to share information with all your target audiences including faculty, alumni, athletic boosters and the surrounding community. The reason a blog is desirable in addition to social media is that your content lives here. It is indexed by Google and matures, improving your position in organic search rankings.

It’s important to be constantly adding new content. Make use of this content on your social media channels as well so as to get the most from any new content you create.

The National Student Clearinghouse. This one is more of an overall tip but has digital marketing implications. Purdue University’s Office of Enrollment Management took a closer look at students who chose to attend elsewhere. Through information made available at the National Student Clearinghouse, the enrollment management team was able to identify where these students eventually enrolled. This enabled them to better understand who their competitors are.

Some students are predisposed to attend college in state. There are various reasons for this. However, by examining the behavior of students who have the means to attend anywhere, a school can hone in on its primary competition.

Break down your data, perhaps by state or region. What patterns emerge? The good folks at Purdue were able to determine that students on the East coast were more likely to attend out of state institutions. This was just one of many insights gained through PU’s research.

It’s Our Niche

Beacon has been recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design and digital marketing firms in the country. If you’d like the kind of insight into student behavior that 20 years of Higher Ed website design provides, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

 

 

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-11-08T13:43:37+00:00 November 15th, 2017|Digital Marketing, Higher Education|0 Comments

Effectively Market Your School with Social Media

There are prospective students in virtually every age group. Each has unique needs and wants. This should be reflected in your social media content strategy and PPC advertising. Your message needs to be specific to be effective.

For the sake of discussion, we’ll break this down into three main groups or demographics. There are those under the age of 18, often referred to as Generation Z. For obvious reasons, this group is very likely your main audience. In the middle, we have millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 32. Finally, we have Generation X, the parents of Gen Z.

Marketing Your School to the Gen Z Student

For most of us, our success will be significantly impacted by how effectively we appeal to this group. Gen Z students are the next crop of up and coming undergraduates. Digital ads are second nature to them. They respond quickly but their attention spans are short, so don’t make them jump through too many hoops or they won’t engage.

Credibility is everything with this group. Twitter and Instagram are very effective marketing tools, particularly when the message comes from a contemporary.

Millennials Are Looking for More

When millennials look to further their schooling, they may be working and attending classes at the same time. They have more debt than their parents and don’t make as much, so cost is a pain point. Flexibility is important. As a result, they are more receptive to night classes or online education.

Facebook is HUGE with this group. In fact, over 30% of Facebook users are millennials. In your Facebook ads, stress flexible class schedules and learn at your own pace models, if you have them.

Targeting Parents with Social Media

Some Gen X’ers will look to attend classes for upward mobility or self-improvement. However, most of this group have significance for a far different reason. They’re footing the bill for the aforementioned Gen Z’s. With the significant cost of tuition, they look at their children’s schooling as an investment.

Just as with millennials, their main concern is value (albeit for a slightly different reason). Again, Facebook becomes a valuable tool for marketing to this group. Stress value in your Facebook ads and online marketing.

Targeting Alumni

Since this last group also include alumni, discussion of social media marketing is incomplete without mentioning its application to fundraising. Facebook can effectively supplement direct mail and phone solicitation efforts.

Beacon’s Social Media Experts

Got questions about your digital marketing strategy? At Beacon, our social media experts focus on the Higher Ed space.  Our age diverse team mirrors that of your audiences, giving us a unique insight into what makes them tick. Contact me directly or give a Beacon team member a call at 1.855.851.0109. Or if you prefer, leave a comment and share your thoughts below.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-10-23T09:46:56+00:00 October 26th, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Effectively Market Your School with Social Media

Setting Conversion Goals for your College or University Website

More than likely, you’ve installed the required Google Analytics tracking code on your website. You already peruse the monthly totals for visits, session duration and bounce rate. You have an idea what pages are most popular with visitors. However, unless you’ve set up the right conversion goals, you don’t really know which pages lead to a request for more information or even more importantly, an application.

Once you begin tracking this information, you can start asking a whole host of important questions such as:

  • What content is most likely to lead to a conversion?
  • Do mobile visitors convert at a better rate than desktop?
  • How can I get more conversion?

Setting Large and Small Conversion Goals

Your goals will depend upon the type of landing page it applies to. For example, for an admissions page it would likely be an application submission. By contrast, a request for a course catalog may be more appropriate for a program page.

Set both large and small goals, not unlike the way a football coach sets team goals for first downs as well as total points. After all, little successes often lead to bigger ones. This is particularly applicable for Higher Ed as the application process has so many touch points and each suggests an increased level of commitment.

A video view or email inquiry regarding a sporting event may be considered a small goal. A PDF download or request for a catalog suggests greater interest and may lie somewhere in the middle. An application submission is a more significant goal, obviously. Knowing what drives the earlier goals may very well provide you with the needed strategy to lead visitors to an application submission.

At a minimum, consider setting up conversion goals for:

  • Video Views
  • From Submissions
  • Virtual Tour Views
  • Requests for Campus Tours
  • Emails to Admissions Office and Faculty
  • PDF Downloads
  • Applications
  • Class Registrations

Higher Ed: PPC and Conversion Goals

If you spend a dime on PPC and don’t have the proper conversion goals in place, then you must have a money tree outside your office.

It goes without saying that 99% of those who visit your website don’t complete an application. However, many have converted on a lesser level. You’ve invested a significant portion of your marketing dollars in PPC. The information you gain from the smaller conversion can help you direct these same people through the conversion funnel and eventually, to an application. Why would you ever let these leads evaporate into thin air?

How ‘Bout Remarketing?

The enrollment funnel is longer than that of normal sales funnels. This gives students ample opportunity to leave for a variety of reasons. Remarketing keeps your ads in the front row and your school in the consciousness of the prospect.

Here’s how it works. The student’s initial visit generates a cookie which triggers your ad after they’ve left your site. Your ad may appear once again when they visit similar or competing websites. Conversion rates are generally much higher for these types of ads as the prospect has already expressed some kind of interest in your school.

The Bottom Line

At Beacon, we’ve been helping marketing professionals in Higher Ed effectively grow their digital presence for more than 20 years. If you have any questions regarding your school’s Google Analytics conversion goal set up, I encourage you to email me or call a Beacon team member at 1.855.851.0109. We’ll help clarify the admissions funnel and get you on the road to increased enrollment in no time.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-10-12T08:24:19+00:00 October 10th, 2017|Digital Marketing, Higher Education|Comments Off on Setting Conversion Goals for your College or University Website

PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

While one may or may not think of a college or university as a business, there is no arguing that those involved in student enrollment mean business. The playing field is more competitive every day. This is evidenced by the fact that more and more schools use PPC (pay per click) advertising as part of their appeal.

Since many more in your target audience communicate through digital channels than in the days when you and I went to school, it goes without saying that it doesn’t pay to stick with just traditional means of promotion. Besides, at the rate that the enrollment landscape is changing, PPC almost qualifies as traditional.

PPC Strategies for Higher Ed

Unlike large, profit generating entities, most colleges have limited budgets to work with. This means that while one may encourage ones students to experiment, to “find themselves”, you don’t want your marketing people to have to do so, too.

Make sure you have a clearly defined strategy going in. Higher Ed keywords are generally very expensive (again, the Higher Ed space is VERY competitive), so it’s essential that you use your marketing dollars efficiently. That having been said…

Branded Campaigns Don’t Work for Higher Ed

Many businesses use branded campaigns to make sure their competitors don’t pick off shoppers who are looking to pilfer their customers. However, your audience differs from most. With a college website, many students, alumni and faculty use the website as a constant resource.

Since you’re already at the top for a branded search, you don’t want to waste your money paying for those who choose to access your site through a PPC add. That’s a sure way to burn through your ad budget and see minimal return.

Higher Ed Remarketing Ads Do, Though

The enrollment funnel for Higher Ed is protracted when compared to other competitive spaces. That being the case, a conversion rarely happens as part of an early touch. This is true across the board, unless your brand is so big that you don’t need to advertise. That’s a very exclusive club.

Remarketing ads follow visitors from their initial visit to your site (or mobile App). As they visit other competing sites, your ad will pop up, keeping your school fresh in their mind. It’s a great way to maintain a familiarity and nurture the process. These remarketing ads can include periodic offerings such as a limited time discount on an application fee in exchange for contact information.

Get even more granular by using Google’s RLSA’s. You can target users based on their behavior, which page on your site they visited and how long they stayed. So, if they visited the page for your dental school, they’ll receive remarketing ads specific to that discipline.

Higher Ed PPC & Mobile

Make sure the landing pages for your PPC ads are responsive. Recent surveys indicate that roughly 80% of high school seniors and their parents view college websites on their phones. If your site is mobile friendly, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Google’s new Expanded Text.

You’ve spent the money to get your visitors to your website. Don’t blow the experience now.

And that’s Just the Beginning

Want to know more about how you can pull more candidates into your school’s enrollment funnel? Beacon is recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country. We’ve been helping colleges and universities with PPC marketing for over 20 years. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-09-01T09:28:27+00:00 September 6th, 2017|Higher Education, PPC|Comments Off on PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

An institution’s mission is to educate students. By extension, its relevance is dependent upon the quality and quantity of enrolled students. Without students, you cease to exist.

If you’re charged with marketing your college or university, you carry a position of great responsibility. You’ve been asked to be a caretaker of sorts. Your mission is to steward your school into a position of added prestige and reputation. You can affect both enrollment and endowment.

Education is a business. Without treating it as such, one risks becoming a footnote in the annals of Higher Ed history. Understanding the admissions funnel is step one in ensuring you’re remembered as having been a worthy steward for your school.

Understanding the Higher Ed Admissions Funnel

While the admissions funnel shares certain similarities to a typical sales funnel, there are distinct differences. Understanding those differences can be key to your success.

The admissions funnel is deeper and more involved than the normal sales funnel. More levels require a longer time duration and greater deliberation. It could be a year or two from the moment your candidate enters the admissions funnel until they eventually enroll. A protracted process means more opportunity to abandon the process.

The better you understand the admissions funnel, the easier it is to use it to your advantage.

The Opening: Attracting Prospective Students

When marketing to the prospective student, content and the delivery of said content is of paramount importance. Methods include the more traditional (education fairs and school visits) as well as digital advertising (PPC, Social Media, etc.). And one cannot emphasize enough the importance of sound SEO practices for Higher Ed.

Prospective students break down into two sub-sets, those who already have a familiarity with your institution as well as those who may not have previously known who you are. The approach is similar for targeting both.

Use videos, photos and interesting copy. Prospective students respect and trust content provided by their peers. Emphasize content provided by your current students. Your goal is to get a prospective student to request more information. That’s the next step in the sales funnel.

The Inquiry

When we discuss those who inquire into additional information, the numbers drop precipitously. But that’s OK. The good news is, the remaining prospects represent significant opportunity. They’re still considering a few schools and their pain point tends to be simple. Generally, they want to know at which school they best fit in.

Appeal to this group through both traditional means (personal calls from students, events and printed materials) as well as through social media and PPC campaigns.

PPC remarketing campaigns can be a great way to keep your brand in the minds of prospective students. In short, remarketing ads are the google ads that follow you after you visit a website. It targets those who have expressed some level of interest already.

The objective here is to steer the student into the application process.

Getting the Application

Anyone who starts the application process is already highly engaged. At this juncture, the personal touch can be most effective. Events are great. There is nothing more effective than a face to face meeting.

It’s also a good time for email marketing campaigns. Emphasize personalized emails from admissions counselors or administrators.

Some will recommend personalized phone calls. Personal experience tells me otherwise.  When my children were looking for a school to attend, they never answered the phone. Texting is the preferred method of communication for this generation. They avoid the phone like the plague.

Attention & Intention Mean Retention

The final group you need to appeal to are those who have been accepted and/or have confirmed their intention to attend. This group may include individuals who have been accepted at several schools. They may be still deciding or waiting to find out which school will provide the most financial aid.

While not all will eventually enroll, this is the time to welcome them into the “family”. The more personal your communication, the better. If this student interacts with other accepted students through social media, odds of retention increase considerably.

Consider sending branded items such as tee shirts or coffee mugs.

Avoiding Summer Melt

While it may seem unethical, some students will place deposits down with more than one institution. Others will lose interest while awaiting financial aid. Some will simply be overwhelmed with the process of finishing paperwork and buying books.

In fact, a recent study suggests that between 10% and 40% of students will “melt away” between the time of their acceptance and the first day of classes.

Engagement from here must be genuine and personal. Consider holding webinars with instructors who can help individuals get to the finish line. Administrators can send personalized emails offering assistance and answering frequent questions. Bottom line: Keep it as personal as possible.

How Beacon Can Help

Recently recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country, Beacon has been helping colleges and universities with admissions marketing for more than 20 years. Together we can develop and implement a digital marketing plan to address your specific objectives. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-08-21T11:10:17+00:00 August 21st, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel
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