Student recruitment campaigns in many colleges have failed to keep pace with the changing media consumption of youth audiences and their parents. Based on research conducted by Rave, just over 60% of colleges are not fully integrating digital media into their summer campaign plans.
It is true that many principals still love to see a nice big advert for their local college in local newspaper. Press advertising is becoming a greater ego trip than ever with circulation over local newspapers dropping by 25% over the last five years and that fall shows no sign of stopping. And ask yourself, which 15 year old reads the local newspaper?
Young people and their parents are being exposed to advertising messages through their computers, smart phones and tablets at an ever-increasing rate. And these advertising messages are relevant and timely.
Some of the digital advertising methods you should seriously consider within the media mix for your summer recruitment campaign are:
Social media advertising
Both Facebook and Twitter offer advertising options for colleges. Twitter has promoted tweets, but generally these are quite expensive and have yet to proven in FE marketing. Yet Facebook advertising is highly targeted and delivers highly targeted audiences. For instance ads can be created to target certain age, gender and geography groups. The ability to monitor performance of these ads is incredible too. Facebook advertising will also help to grow the number of fans you have and you can continue to communicate with this new audience beyond the life of the campaign. Rave always advises its clients to use Facebook advertising as a core part of summer campaigns.
Contextual online advertising
Contextual online advertising takes advantage of known information about an internet user’s online behavior. Every time you visit a website, fill out a form or make a search, your behavior is monitored using cookies. This information is used by advertisers to deliver ads to people who are in a buying mindset. Audiences can be targeted through geo-demographic characteristics to avoid wastage. There is usually a minimum charge for this and can only really be used by colleges with larger budgets.
Through schools liaison, website visits and general enquiries, it is possible to build an email database. This database can be leveraged to maintain ongoing and timely communications. Rave operates an email marketing platform which allows for cost effective email broadcasts with features like variable content based on database fields, triggered emails depending on recipients response and automated emails (i.e. Happy Birthday email).
Digital marketing does not replace traditional media such as outdoor and radio, local newspaper advertising can also play a role for some colleges. The important thing is to get the mix right.
John Wilford is founder and managing director of Rave, a specialist marketing agency providing strategic advice, creativity, media planning, social media and campaign execution to many FE colleges and sixth form colleges
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