The higher education industry is a very competitive one, and especially so for two-year universities and community colleges who don’t just have to battle with four-year universities for students, but also have to battle with negative perceptions that community colleges are the postsecondary destination of “last resort”.
Community colleges thrived during the economic recession as students who are struggling to pay for a four-year university or to find work looked to improve their academic and professional credentials. As the economy recovers, community colleges have had to get creative in their marketing to potential students.
Our client approached Advance Ohio to put together a strategy to target a very specific audience of community college – summer transient students.
The local community college was struggling to reach the summer transient students – students who live in Cuyahoga County that are eligible to take classes at the local community college during the summer and have credits transferred back to their original institutions. In addition, the local community college wanted to reach the parents of children that are most likely to participate in summer classes.
The strategy that was created for the local community college revolved mostly around using three tactics to reach potential students and their parents in addition to standard display ads on cleveland.com and the extended reach ad network.
The first tactic was a latitude/longitude targeting campaign – a type of geographical targeting that focuses on very specific locations to target the areas where the likeliest audience exists. We used the lat/long targeting over six college campuses to reach students while they were on their home campus, encouraging them to save money and get ahead by taking summer classes at the local community college.
The second tactic was to use social media to target students who would be interested in taking classes while they’re home for the summer. By targeting students currently enrolled at the schools the local community college gains the most summer enrollments from who live in a 40 mile radius of Cleveland, we were able to target the most likely audience of students who would be interested in taking summer classes.
The third tactic was to promote sponsored content through Responsive Rich Media (RRM) display about the advantages of summer classes at the community college. The goal was to communicate this message not only to potential students, but also the parents of these students as influencers via cleveland.com. In addition to the traditional “in river” posts on cleveland.com to promote this content, display advertising was utilized on the RRM platform, featuring creative specific to the parent and the student audience, which allowed the tracking of respondents’ engagement with the ad.
- Engagement with social media
- Engagement with website, specifically summer transient program pages
- Engagement with more students, specifically from nearby colleges that would be interested in summer classes
- Traffic driven by social increased 253% year over year
- The transient student page saw 21,454 page views, a 136% increase from 2015
- Mobile targeted campaign around 6 campuses garnered 16,316 clicks and achieved an overall CTR of .97%