Competition to attract new students is forcing some Colleges to put more focus on improved campaign engagement and conversion rates. In order to do this they have to develop a better understanding of the student-user journey. Analytics is rightly used to justify campaign ad spend but it can also be limiting when it comes to understanding and testing media. When all campaigns lead to one place then analytics can get ‘cluttered’ because it is trying to capture and interpret the data from all channels to a single destination. When that single destination is the College website then the data can become harder to interpret because that’s where we learn about conversions.
If campaign ROI is attributed to spend, response, results (conversions) AND the learning gained, then most colleges will need to start testing different landing pages to see if they can improve campaign results. In a world where attraction strategies dominate marketing forums, you could be forgiven for assuming that this is the key battleground. In fact, to understand the real battleground, you have to understand the complete user-journey. Finding people in communities and networks is relatively straightforward. There are hundreds of agencies and media owners with world class capabilities to help deliver audiences. But they’re not in control of the most important part of the journey – the advertiser is. How they treat their users when they arrive at the campaign destination will dictate whether good response becomes good results.
The design, content and structure of your destination page will lead to one of two actions – engage and convert or bounce. Most college campaigns have high bounce rates because they’re not giving the student the engagement they expected when they responded to the campaign. Invariably this is because they arrive on the college website which has no obvious ‘call to action’ or has far too many links and engagement points that will distract the student from the campaign objective.
Most colleges have well designed and constructed websites so justifying alternative campaign landing pages is a difficult task. What is irrefutable however is the fact that optimised landing pages are better are at converting response to campaigns – by at least 25% according to Omniture. This is because they improve the most important part of the user journey – the part that seals the deal. What colleges are also learning is that testing different types of landing page – offers invaluable insights into how different creative approaches work and which channels deliver the best results. As landing pages sit outside the main website architecture then there are no integration issues and testing become affordable – and very worthwhile.
Neil Walsh is a director at Student & Youth (SAY) Marketing, which works with FE and HE institutions throughout the