Why Search + Display = A Gold Medal Win

In some corners of the digital landscape paid search and display advertising are bitter rivals, pitted against each other in a fierce competition for your marketing dollars. But here at ESM, we know that when those two worthy marketing strategies work together, it’s a beautiful thing. Here’s how to make a match made in heaven:

Consider the funnel: You need to recognize that not all your prospects are in the same place in their decision-making process. Don’t treat them like they are. At the top of the funnel, concentrate on what your school is all about and what you offer prospective students. Top and mid-funnel strategies might include public relations, search engine optimization, content marketing, email campaigns, social media marketing, community management, and digital advertising.

Use digital ads for higher funnel engagement: Digital ads are push advertising, similar to old school television ads, in which a broad group of people is targeted with big brand names. Luckily, unlike television, today’s platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and the millions of sites throughout the Google Display Network, allow you to hone in on the demographic that makes the most sense for you. It’s a vast improvement from the wide net approaches of the past.

Digital ads help build brand awareness, loyalty and lift. They are also instrumental (although they often don’t get credit for it) in lower funnel actions. Your future students may notice an ad for one of your programs on their Facebook feed, but because they’re not far enough along in their decision-making journey, they don’t click through. Still, those creatively produced ads with compelling call-outs can have significant influence when prospective students are ready to take action.

Use search lower in the funnel. Search is pull advertising, an approach that is less interruptive than display. Search advertising uses a competitive bidding structure to place ads before prospective students who are already searching for what you have to offer. These future students are more focused in their pursuit and more likely to convert.

Paid search masters will point to high conversion rates, brought in for low cost-per-clicks to prove the effective ROI of their methods. However, they’re often assisted by those digital ads prospects saw months before. When digital ads and paid search unite, they introduce students to your school, guide them on their journey and become the answer to their educational queries –and maybe their future.

If you’d like to learn how an integrated marketing approach can help increase enrollments –and graduation rates, contact the HigherEd Geeks at Effective Student Marketing today.

~Linda Emma