Online marketing gets the business

Q: Where does Rutgers Business School spend most of its direct marketing budget?

A: We made a decision about a year ago not to do any postal direct mail, aside from mailing current students about announcements. Primarily, it was a cost decision, but we also wanted a more modern way to communicate with prospective students.

Q: Is direct mail broken?

A: Both channels can work, but online is the better channel for us. Our slogan is “Business, science and technology,” and we find that this method has a better correlation to where we excel. Online advertising is really efficient. If universities are efficient with their marketing, they can spend money in other areas and improve the value of their education offering.

Q: What about your student body helps you decide where to place online ads?

A: We’re very careful about aligning demographics, particularly looking at where our current students and incoming students are demographically and trying to match that up with Web sites. It doesn’t necessarily have to be education-based. These include magazine sites such as BusinessWeek and US News and World Report. We also look for sites that have channels for education, like an association for accountants for our accounting programs. My office is traditionally focused a little bit more on our graduate programs, so GMAC [the Graduate Management Admission Council] is a good way of finding students who are interested in going to grad school.

Q: How does the move to an online focus blend with other efforts?

A: We have traditionally relied more on radio — particularly at our executive MBA level — transit ads and, more recently, billboards. One of the reasons we’ve taken some time jumping into the online space is that we’re looking at ways to track response better.

Q: What had you been doing to track response in the past?

A: We’ve traditionally relied more on surveys at open houses and of incoming students to see how they find out about us. We’re now starting to implement some of the [online] tracking tools. We want to track the ROI of our advertising. We’re looking at Google conversion tracking and using that model not just for our Google ads, but for our other ads as well. You can do that more easily with an online ad than a radio or billboard ad.

Q: How has the economy affected business recruiting recently?

A: Across the industry, full-time programs were doing slightly better than the previous years, whereas the part time programs were seeing lower enrollment, so reaching that audience was a bit of a challenge. Our reaction was to send out more electronic communications highlighting our part-time program, while extending the part-time application deadline.

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