Use SEM to attract college crowd

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Rather than quantity, it seems quality has become the driving factor behind lead purchases for post-secondary schools. Tradi­tional direct marketing is giving way to more targeted messaging, with positive results. Forward-thinking marketers are focusing their efforts on smaller campaigns, using demographic targeting of those individuals most likely to respond.

At a basic level, if you know the profile of your ideal college prospect, you should be able to exclusively target that profile within the overall pool of prospects and thereby increase your ability to acquire applicants from that demographic. Further, if university and continuing education marketers contact only the targeted demographic, their odds of success will be significantly higher.

The disconnect in this value chain occurs because prospect profile information — what the college demographic is today and how it has changed over time — is not effectively communicated to the point of contact in the Internet lead generation chain. Publishers and providers attempt to gather leads into a mas­sive pool with little or no information about what types of leads they should be seeking. The scarce information they do have is pro­prietary and not shared with other points of contact. This greatly limits the effectiveness of this process. High-quality lead generation can be achieved efficiently through the applica­tion of database marketing and data analysis techniques used in other industries.

While many companies take a transac­tional approach to lead generation (they cast their nets, collect the leads, and hand them over), a true database marketing approach focuses on putting the right offer in front of the right prospect at the right time, using what is known about the prospect to increase the rate of success. This targeted market­ing approach focuses on all aspects of the enrollment cycle, from initial search engine terms, to specific school inquiry, to enroll­ment, ensuring that prospective students are matched with the programs and institutions best suited for them. The better the input, the better the output.

The key to successful search marketing is continuous monitoring, measurement, and adjustment. The application of database marketing and strategic analysis to academic recruitment allows schools to improve lead quality and increase enrollments.

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