digital marketing

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The Cutting Edge of Digital Marketing: Three Questions for Grant Sabatier, Vice President & Principal, Digital Strategy

by Brian Coughlin on June 23, 2016 , No comments
  1. How has “big data” changed how search campaigns are managed?

There is now more data available than ever–massive amounts we couldn’t have imagined even a few years ago. There is also a flood of new tools, platforms and ever-improving Google Analytics available to optimize campaigns. But more data in this case does not necessarily yield better campaign results for, say, one particular business school or another. For Eduvantis, it’s about more data with context. We now work with such a critical mass of business schools and management education organizations that we are the first to see trends across the sector. This helps us to not only set benchmarks, but also uncover opportunities for both a specific school and that we can also leverage across our entire business school client base. It’s a form of collective learning – where each individual school can get better because of the learnings we derive from the whole. We’ve created a truly one-of-a-kind database and resource for business schools.

  1. How, specifically, does this help?

The data we have allows us to implement new learnings quickly – through better targeting, bidding, placement, and lead generation strategies. For example, we discovered a really effective targeting profile we used to identify EMBA prospects on LinkedIn and it was so successful that we took that unique profile and were able to leverage that profile for another school in a different competitive market. The campaign quickly started generating almost double the number of new prospect inquiries generated from LinkedIn.

Also, all of the new digital data we are able to gather is telling us more about the prospect, so we have more information which leads to more effective targeting. We are able to uncover what individuals in the market are interested in (search), their career history (LinkedIn), their interests (Facebook), how they engage with the brand (user experience), and what websites they visit. Better targeting leads to better campaign performance.

  1. Where do you see the digital marketing process headed?

Well, it’s the age of growing complexity. Digital marketing has truly become a science and the increasing complexities, increasing cost, and increasing competition make it necessary to have some pretty sophisticated experience in order to generate ROI with your digital budget. Individual schools struggle with this. The level of precision now required to design and run a high performing PPC campaign (not to mention SEO, social, etc.) requires a special skill set – someone who is very detail oriented, highly curious, analytically driven, can manage a lot of data, and can make a lot of complex choices based on deep digital marketing experience. It has truly become a specialized field and our greatest advantage at Eduvantis is that we have merged the necessary technical skills and experience with unique industry data, which makes us better at targeting, reaching prospects, and generating results.

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Brian CoughlinThe Cutting Edge of Digital Marketing: Three Questions for Grant Sabatier, Vice President & Principal, Digital Strategy

The 80/20 Digital Marketing Reality

by Grant Sabatier on May 27, 2015 , No comments

Based on our work with many institutions, I am sorry to report it is not uncommon to find examples of schools that have spent $100,000 + on a single digital campaign that resulted in no more than a handful of inquiries. Do the ROI math on that.

There are three basic reasons this is happening in a surprising number of situations:

  • The money is spent on poorly conceived strategies that have led to bad display ad placements, inappropriately targeted keywords and other such misfires.
  • Increased competition, driven by more sophisticated digital marketers in the higher education space, has led to most institutions losing up to 40% of their market visibility in the past year. That means 4 out of every 10 people who used to see your institution when searching online no longer see you.
  • Most institutions have not made peace with the reality that they are simply not spending enough money on digital advertising to have a chance of competing with the growing number of institutions that have accepted the reality that in digital marketing you literally have to pay to play. It is a new cost of doing business in higher education — and institutions that don’t factor this into their models will find themselves first marginalized, and soon literally out of the game.

What to do?

The third point above is a longer conversation. Again, most institutions have to seriously rethink their business and pricing models to include significantly higher costs of lead acquisition in the digital age. We spend a fair amount of time at Eduvantis introducing institutions to the data, models and metrics that demonstrate and contextualize this point.

The immediate response for most institutions is to at the least seriously up their game in terms of the sophistication with which they approach digital marketing. Our experience analyzing many institutions is that Pareto’s Principle — more popularly known as the 80/20 rule — is alive and well. 80% of what schools invest in digital marketing creates little impact. 20% of what they do is responsible for most of the enrollment impact they do achieve.

Here is the catch: Most institutions do not have in place the things it takes to actually know which of their hard-earned dollars is actually making a difference. The good news is that in the days of “Mad Men,” advertisers literally didn’t know what was actually producing results — which spawned the old adage, “half of my advertising dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half.” In the digital age, things have changed. Here’s what you can do.

The easiest way to determine what has historically given you the best results is to look at the past performance of your Google Analytics conversion goals (if you haven’t set them up or don’t know if they are set-up correctly click here). For most institutions it makes sense to track prospect and/or other website visitor actions – such as inquiries, information session signups, applications started, and applications submitted (sometimes more challenging if you use Hobson’s Apply Yourself – but it is possible to find ways around this system). These conversion goals in Google Analytics can then be mapped back directly to measure your direct and in-direct marketing efforts.

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When analyzing your conversion efforts we recommend using the “secondary dimensions tab” or the “reverse goal path” in Google Analytics to analyze the referral source, traffic source, landing page, keywords, and other points of origin that led to conversions. At Eduvantis Digital we recommend exporting all of your conversion data into Excel to make it easier to sort. After you have gathered your conversion data – then sort all of your conversion sources and look at where the majority of your conversions originated over the past 1, 2, and 3 years. Using this approach you will easily be able to isolate the 20% of your efforts that generated 80%+ of your conversion results. These are where you should focus and invest in your marketing efforts.

For most of our clients these are organic search, paid search, and increasingly paid social media – which can be isolated all the way down to a specific keyword set or target. The least effective digital ads from a conversion standpoint are general display placements (like on popular news website). Over time we recommend our clients use simple referral tracking source codes for all of their digital efforts to make attribution modeling with Google Analytics possible (finding the source + touch points leading to conversions). It is always better to focus your budget and efforts on finding ways to make your most effective tactics work harder for you.

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Grant SabatierThe 80/20 Digital Marketing Reality