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How to test, measure and improve FE marketing

In the recent article on Automating Your Marketing I mentioned split testing and the fact it is possible to send the same email, with alternative headlines, to various customer groups and automatically measure the response rate these emails elicit.  The idea is that some headlines give a much higher response rate than others and this objectively tests for the best.  It is not uncommon to be able to double or even treble response rates by this method and the resultant extra response is effectively free marketing.

It is also possible to test how effective various elements and features of our websites perform.  For example we can test and measure the response if we simply change a headline, copy, photograph or graphics on the site.  If you want to delve deeper it is also possible to multi-variant test say, three items at once, and get an automated report on what combination works best.

And if you are doubtful if changing a photograph will make much difference to the way website visitors behave consider the following.  One of my clients, a well-known international charity, split tested a single photo on a sponsorship page and increased the response rate on that page by a mere 10%.  In financial terms this resulted in an extra £15k income per annum; all because they changed a photo!  What income would you generate if a simple change like this resulted in an extra learner or two …. that stayed with you for 3-4 years?

Taking examples closer to home consider the college that checked out the response rate of a series of banner ads they were running on an external site.  We helped them set up “goals” on Google Analytics and they were able to see not only how many visitors came to the website via the banner ads but also, more importantly, how many converted into online applications.  This enabled them to calculate the cost of acquisition of these applicants against those that came via Facebook, Twitter and a host of other traffic sources.

However testing and measuring alone is of little value unless the information provided is used to improve the return on investment (ROI).  The above example meant that limited budgets could be utilised on the most effective traffic sources.

For those of us paying for listings on Yell, hotcourses, etc. we can now test, measure and improve the ROI of our marketing and obtain a much improved return on our marketing investment.

Google Analytics also enables us to measure the above response rates geographically, by time of day, day of the week and a host of other dimensions. So if you need to optimise the ROI on limited staffing, financial or other resources you would be well advised to adopt some simple automated measurement processes.

Marketing consultant Stefan Drew was previously director of marketing at two FHE colleges and now works with providers throughout Europe and the US.

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