Budget waster #1: Not running search campaigns continuously
Even if you don’t have an open day coming up directly, you’ll want your name to come up, and be able to capture e-mail addresses of interested potential students at any time of the year.
Prospective students think about their future year round, often several months before they make their final decision. So when they want to find out more, it’s important that your name comes up, no matter where you are in the marketing cycle.
This can be done by keeping a modest PPC (AdWords) campaign active at all times and paying attention to your organic search engine rankings.
Budget waster #2: Overspending on irrelevant keywords
This is the flip side of the first budget waster: if you haven’t been steadily collecting e-mail addresses of prospective students throughout the year, you’ll fall short in the run-up to your open day.
At that point, there is a temptation to spend (a lot) more on search campaigns. But the level of interest to a particular field of study is what it is. Just because you decided to double your ad budget, doesn’t mean there are now double as many students potentially interested in taking up the course.
If your campaigns are run by an agency, they will face the temptation to take the money (which may result in extra billings for them as well) and broadening the search campaign to target all kinds of marginally relevant keywords, which will bring lots of clicks but not more enquiries, let alone enrollments.
Budget waster #3: Lack of follow up
Once someone signs up to receive e-mail updates, stay in touch to make sure they don’t forget your institution and all it has to offer.
There are various ways of staying in touch, such as helpful periodic e-mails which can contain:
- Advice on study choice: What should you know before enrolling with our institution?
- Case studies: Stories from a diverse set of students about their life as a student. Where facts and data get forgotten, human stories bring your institution to life and make prospective students imagine the type of life they can have.
- Invitations to events: If you’ve kept your list warm, it can be a great way to rally students to come to your events, be them real-life or virtual, and take the conversion one step further.
Another high powered way for staying in touch is retargeting. The advantage of retargeting is that it can reach anyone who visited your website, or even specific pages on your website, even if they didn’t provide an e-mail address.
A carefully designed retargeting campaign can continuously show new content to people who have shown an interest in your courses and thus keep them warm and interested.
Such a campaign takes a lot of effort to set up initially, but can be run with a very modest ad budget, and be mostly automated after the initial setup.
Together, e-mail and retargeting make all other marketing efforts more powerful, because they can expand a prospective student’s single click into a series of interactions — allowing the student to gain trust in you over time.
By paying attention to the above 3 budget wasters, you will proactively build and nurture a base of people interested in your courses. Once the real recruiting effort start, you’ll have built a group of potential students that’s warm and ready to engage.