Why a Full-Funnel Strategy For Education Marketers Is Important On LinkedIn
A full-funnel marketing strategy is key to increase business. While most marketers are focused on short-term metrics, a full-funnel approach allows marketers to influence prospects early in the decision process and generate the most qualified leads. This strategy is particularly beneficial to marketers in the education vertical as they can see a conversion cycle anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. According to LinkedIn, education prospects make a short list of only three schools, and 93% end up enrolling in one of these schools. There are four phases education marketers need to consider when creating a full-funnel strategy on LinkedIn.
Our top of the funnel starts early by showcasing who the university is and what sets them apart. It is important for universities to start with a strong organic presence on LinkedIn with a University Page. This not only engages prospects, but alumni, donors, and employers. A university’s LinkedIn page is useful for publishing news, events, and encouraging organic engagement. This is also an easy way to collect follower and engager demographic data, which gives marketers a good starting point for finding a university’s most engaged audience.
Once a strong organic presence is established, education marketers need to reach beyond their followers. LinkedIn provides advanced professional targeting options to help marketers reach their most qualified audience. Targeting can be done through numerous categories and can be layered on top of one another to hit the most niche audience. Some examples of categories include company, company size, industry, job title, job function, member schools, fields of study, and degrees. The ones most useful to education marketers are industry, job title, job function, and field of study.
Once prospective audiences have been established and LinkedIn’s Insight Tag has been added, marketers have a number of advertising products to choose from. In the top of the funnel, it is encouraged to utilize Sponsored Content and Dynamic Spotlight Ads.
- Sponsored Content - Brand Awareness: This ad product allows advertisers to run native ads across desktop and mobile using organic posts already on a university page or direct sponsored content (content created only to be shown to your target audience and not seen on the university page). This ad product should be used throughout the entire conversion funnel, adjusting content and targeting along the way. In the top of funnel, universities should utilize student or faculty testimonials and video content. Generally, universities will already have this content on-hand which makes this ad product easy to start with.
- Dynamic Spotlight Ads: Spotlight ads provide a personalized ad experience for your audience. Depending on your objective, you can gain new LinkedIn followers, drive traffic to a landing page, or generate content downloads. In the top of the funnel, marketers want to introduce prospects to the university and utilizing a follower objective is a great place to start. Selecting a follower objective will make LinkedIn’s optimization algorithm serve audience members most likely to become a follower. Once prospects convert (follow), they will be served organic content from the university page within their LinkedIn feed.
Now that these top of funnel tactics have been carried out, there should be enough data to retarget interested prospects and narrow the audiences to hit those most likely to convert.
From here, marketers should take another look at their prospect targeting. This starts by looking at the demographic data LinkedIn has collected from your previously run campaigns. Marketers can look at which targeting selections in each category produced the highest click-through-rate (CTR), highest conversion rate, etc. Layering targeting exclusions is important to eliminate audience members that are unlikely to convert. Job Seniority and Degree categories are a great place to start. Generally, we will see a low CTR and conversion rate from Master’s degree holders, directors, VPs, and CXOs when advertising for a master’s degree.
Once mid-funnel audiences have been established, there are several LinkedIn ad products marketers can utilize:
- Sponsored Content - Conversion Objective: Rather than focusing on brand awareness as suggested in the top of funnel, promote conversions here using direct sponsored content. This allows marketers to tweak creative according to the audience. For example, if promoting an MBA program, target business students with a creative text overlay mentioning app fee waivers, expected salary post-program, and monthly program cost. This encourages the audience to click through and learn more, which pushes them in to our remarketing audience.
- Text Ads: Text ads are a desktop-only, affordable, and flexible ad product. You can pay-per-click and set your bid, so you do not pay unless you are seeing results. Text ads generally produce a lower CTR, but a higher conversion rate, meaning they attract an extremely qualified audience.
- InMail - Engagement Objective: This tactic allows marketers to send personalized messages to prospects. Messages deliver in real-time to members who are currently active on LinkedIn, increasing open rate. As opposed to email, InMails won’t go to spam, and instead show up in an uncluttered, professional context. LinkedIn users will also not be served an InMail more than once within 60 days, so inboxes are not cluttered with ads. InMails are a great way to get across all selling points of the advertised program such as: What is required to enter the program? How much will it cost? When will I graduate? What salary can I expect?
At this point, the LinkedIn Insight tag has collected a large amount of data on lead demographics and site visitors, which will be taken advantage of in the lower funnel.
In the bottom of our funnel, marketers want to hit audience members who have expressed an interest. A large amount of bottom-funnel budget should go to towards retargeting. This audience includes site visitors, “dead” leads, and followers.
- InMail - Conversion Objective: It is pivotal to remarket with InMails. These can be utilized for more than just gaining leads. They are great for events or other registration type messaging as well. For education marketers, this is a great way to advertise information sessions, especially to help push those prospects that are not quite ready to commit.
- Lead Gen Forms: This is an easy way to collect leads or event RSVPs right in the platform. Rather than having prospects fill out a long form to produce a conversion, LinkedIn will auto-fill a lead gen form for audience members. Generally, all they need to do is input an email address.
Bottom of funnel ads are a great place to create a sense of urgency to drive potential leads home. This could be advertising app fee waivers, app deadlines, or test waivers (no GMAT required).
LinkedIn is also a great platform to retarget leads a marketer has deemed “dead”, meaning a prospect that could never be reached by phone or never answered emails. If access to a CRM list is available, LinkedIn can match lead information back to LinkedIn profiles and retarget these dead leads.
How Rise Can Help Marketers
Using our data expertise and leveraging our close relationship with LinkedIn, the Rise Social team has a strong understanding of how all LinkedIn products work together. We are able to generate and nurture a lead for education marketers, all while utilizing budget most efficiently. We are continuously making optimizations to all partners and programs based on new data coming through. Our relationship with LinkedIn has also given us access to exciting new betas (such as self-service spotlight ads) and the most up to date news on new LinkedIn products.
If you are interested in learning more about how our expertise can help you, contact Rise today.