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Rewriting the Rules of Engaging Potential Students

April 23, 2020

Boosting student enrollment is nothing short of complex for small colleges. We worked with a small, future-focused college that equips students for their futures in the fast-paced film industry. 

Opportunity

Our client found themselves lacking brand awareness in a highly competitive industry, and Symposia saw an opportunity for a strategic and organizational shift. They were in need of a new campaign strategy to attract the right prospective students – one that would illustrate the overall experience of attending and preparing for a future in the film industry. It was also important for the college to transform the way they approached lead generation, website conversions, lead nurturing, and their online presence with key digital marketing platforms.

Solution

Symposia realized early on that our client’s niche curriculum offering put them in a highly competitive market. In an effort to enhance brand awareness and increase enrollment our strategy started with updating creative efforts. We focused on strategic messaging shifts and updated the online user experience. We found that segmented messaging focusing on location, cost, and college experience offered the most successful appeal to our target audience

With a long consideration period, we leveraged remarketing tactics for nurturing prospective students. To increase conversions we tested different CTAs (calls to action) at strategic points in the user journey and added visible forms fields to the website header for easy access to prospective students that were already in the conversion phase. Our data-driven strategy has since delivered strong results and, at the same time, provided an enormous return on investment.

Our all-encompassing approach included:

  • Designing new website pages and components to improve user experience
  • Supporting the college’s growth plans through targeted advertising by utilizing Google search ads and remarketing with display ads to positively reflect the college’s position in an increasingly competitive market
  • Achieving recruitment goals by utilizing Facebook campaigns 
  • Boosting the visibility of their brand to build a stronger appeal and engagement with students
  • Improving efficiencies by creating customized internal workflows and automations in their customer relationship management system
  • Utilized Google Optimize to test added form fields to headers on the website to increase conversions

A detailed look into our campaign targeting approach:

We analyzed and profiled the college’s core base of students and used cutting-edge consumer insight tools to build a detailed map of our targeted audience’s online behavior. Implementing this into our work gave us the best strategy for boosting form submissions.

We targeted:

  • Lookalike audiences: students who were likely to convert either due to their past engagement, or having similar attributes as previous students
  • Users who had shown prior interest – either by engaging with previous ads or visiting strategic pages on the website. This included students themselves, or their parents.
  • Users who had inquired over the past year, but hadn’t yet applied

This was a super segmented campaign with messaging and creatives being deployed that were relevant to the user’s online journey.

For example, students who viewed the financial aid page would later receive a remarketing ad specific to affordability. We tested copy and creative for various concern topics and used the ad data to drive subsequent variations that increased conversions.

Results

We delivered highly-refined campaigns with precise audience targeting and geographical mapping across a variety of platforms.

We used data to drive our decisions for copy and creative. After testing a range of variations, we were able to identify the language that the audience best responded to in order to increase conversions. We also discovered specific themes that proved to outperform others. The messaging addressed hands-on expertise, affordability, and empowering storytellers.

Our ongoing partnership thus far has achieved:

  • A 4.08% conversion rate for Google Paid Search – above the average for higher education, being 3.78% (Source)
  • A $132 average cost per conversion – lower than the average on paid search for higher education, being upwards of $200 (Source)
  • A 6.42% conversion rate for Facebook ads
  • 217 total form fills in the first six months
  • Website traffic increased by 22%

That is complexity made simple.

Our creative passion and digital marketing expertise proves to make an impact on a variety of industries and in this case higher education. We provide our clients with comprehensive solutions that are both smart and effective. Let us help you get the results you are looking for.

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