ALEXA, "WHERE IS THE NEAREST PIZZA PLACE?":
Over the last two years, we have seen an explosion of smart home speakers and voice-enabled devices — we’re looking at you Alexa and Google Home. Along with increasing numbers of devices is an exponential growth in local searches, something these devices specialize in. There has been 200% growth for phrases like "now" + "near me" (eg. coffee shops near me now) and a 900% growth for phrases like "near me tonight/today" (eg. movies near me tonight). In the same vein, mobile devices are poised to influence over one trillion dollars in local sales by 2021. The success of these localized online searches depends entirely on whether or not the business has been optimized for local search — like making sure your business name, phone, website, and address are current and including photos and reviews where applicable. The future is only getting brighter for these devices, so if you want Alexa to find you make sure your Google business profile is up to date.
Why you should care: Although prospective students are not asking Alexa where they should attend school (at least not yet), googling phrases like “mba programs near me” or “grad schools near me” are growing in popularity. We hate to break it to you, but if your Google business profile isn’t up to date, you won’t win on these searches. Want even more incentive to hop on the “near me” train? Google Maps has begun integrating event information from local schools into the app. If a school’s content is up-to-date and the dates and times of an event are published under the institution’s core domain (and not a site like Eventbrite), that event info can show up in a prospect’s Google search. In other words, if a prospect searches “business schools near me” and they are in proximity of your institution, Google will let them know that there is an information session coming up next month at your school.
HOW TO GET YOUR ADS IN FRONT OF THE RIGHT PROSPECTS FOR CHEAP: The world of digital marketing can feel like walking into a busy shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. We get it, the types of tools available (let alone understanding how to use them all well) can be overwhelming, to say the least. Take, for example, the Google Display Network (GDN) (you know those ads that pop up on YouTube or in the sidebar of a website) and search ads (ads targeted based on keywords). Which should you use and where should you invest your money? Both have their place, but the GDN is first and foremost a tool for prospecting (identifying potential customers) and brand awareness. It allows you to define your audience in greater detail and gives you more exposure than search ads. Though the audience intent is not as strong, you get a much lower cost-per-click and many more impressions. Bottom-line? The GDN is an excellent top of the funnel tool to consider incorporating into your marketing strategy.
Why you should care: At the beginning of the applicant journey, prospects are just beginning to see what is out there, both in terms of degree options and institutions. The Google Display Network (GDN) offers a relatively cost-effective way to expose a large audience to your school’s brand and begin to familiarize them with who you are. The conversion rate in the GDN is pretty low (a tiny 0.7%) but that is to be expected. Your goal isn’t to hook a prospect through this ad tool, it is to plant a seed in the back of their mind. Our advice? Take advantage of the audience-building and targeting capabilities in the Google Display Network and consider allocating some of your ad spend to the GDN in an effort to increase your awareness level leads.
HOT TIPS FROM FACEBOOK (YES THEY KEEP ON COMING):
Facebook Ads. Every marketer uses them, but are they using them effectively? Well, there’s no need to guess anymore, Facebook recently released some best practice tips for ads on their newsfeed and in stories. Here’s the TL;DR: for newsfeed ads make sure there is only one focal point, grabs the viewer’s attention, fits with and is easy to associate with your brand, is informative, and makes a clear ask. For ads in Facebook stories use automatic full-screen support (fit assets to take up the whole screen) and use the lightweight editing options (tools like zoom-in, cropping, and stacking assets).
Why you should care: Facebook Ads are particularly effective for top and middle of the funnel conversions (think subscribing to blog posts, downloading career guides, etc.). As competition for prospect attention increases, the demand for more intentional, creative, and contextual conversion opportunities also increases. Over the next month, we challenge you to A/B test a newsfeed ad and a stories ad. Pro tip: promote an offer that is NOT about applying of formally inquiring. Remember: if you wouldn't click on an ad and/or give your information in exchange for the offer, chances are your prospects won't either!