December 07, 2017

Written by Beth Bauch

Why Higher Education Should Take a Closer Look at LinkedIn

Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all recently faced backlash ranging from Russian meddling to antitrust violations, video censoring and more. While recent polls have shown that most Americans still have a very favorable view of these tech companies, the recent negative reporting may have marketers looking for other avenues to reach their target market. If you are in the higher education vertical, you might be looking for alternatives, too. I suggest taking a closer look at LinkedIn, which is starting to catch up with Facebook and Google to offer audience targeting tools.

Google and Facebook Set the Pace

The robust targeting measures offered by Google and Facebook have long been attractive to higher education. Google continues to add to its demographic targeting with the addition of household income along with age and gender. Audience targeting is clearly a primary focus as demonstrated by Google’s addition of in-market audiences, which are generated by tracking the online behavior of searchers and classifying them based on their demonstrated in-market behavior and purchase intent. Although in-market audiences are currently only available for display campaigns, they will be coming to search in the near future. Soon, Google will be able to categorize searchers who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education based on their online search behavior.

While Facebook and Google have made audience targeting a strong feature in their platforms, LinkedIn has been slower to make advancements in this area. However, earlier this year, LinkedIn took a significant step forward when the platform rolled out Matched Audiences.

LinkedIn Matched Audiences

LinkedIn’s rollout of Matched Audiences is welcome news to higher education marketers who understand the importance of tailoring their message to specific audience segments. The LinkedIn Matched Audiences include three new tools to reach audiences that matter most to your organization. These include Website Retargeting, Contact Targeting, and Account Targeting.

LinkedIn Website Retargeting

Website Retargeting requires the placement of a lightweight JavaScript code on your website. Once the tag is installed, you can define specific audiences based on pages they’ve visited on your website.

This feature is particularly useful for helping to identify potential students and their program interests.  For example, if a LinkedIn member visits a college website and researches communication degrees, they would become a member of an audience of people who have visited that specific web page, which allows marketers for that college to serve ads specifically tailored around communication degrees.

Not surprisingly, LinkedIn has seen much success with this type of retargeting. Over a period of six months, LinkedIn ran a pilot program with more 370 participating advertisers and saw a 30-percent increase in click-through rates and a 14-percent drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting.

Contact Targeting

Contact Targeting offers the ability to market to prospects and known contacts by uploading email addresses or connecting to your contact management platform. Most colleges have extensive lists of prospective students who have requested information, attended open houses, or otherwise demonstrated an interest in the institution. These lists can then be matched through the LinkedIn platform and be used to deliver tailored content and convert prospects.

Account Targeting

Through Account Targeting, A list of company names are uploaded and matched against the nearly 12 million company pages on LinkedIn, which lets you support account-based marketing programs by reaching decision makers at your target companies. Although there might be cases for incorporating Account Targeting for marketing in the higher education vertical, Website Retargeting and Contact Targeting seem to be the better fit for reaching prospective students.

Dynamic Ads

In addition to the new forms of targeting discussed above, LinkedIn also offers Dynamic Ads, which dynamically populate with LinkedIn member profile images and relevant content based on skills, interests, and career history of the individual member viewing the ad.

LinkedIn points to a recent successful use of Dynamic Ads by ESCP Europe, the self-described World’s First Business School with a variety of campuses in different countries.  ESCP Europe was looking to generate high-quality leads for a Master in European Business (MEB) program.  The institution incorporated dynamic ads, pulling in LinkedIn member profile pictures, and invited prospective students to connect. This strategy allowed ESCP Europe to deliver more than two million impressions to potential students and resulted in more than 40 enrollments in less than a month at a conversion rate that was two times higher than its average.

It is important to continually evaluate your marketing strategies to maintain a strong presence in the highly competitive field of higher education. Check out the new features in LinkedIn to see how they can help you reach your marketing goals in the new year. And contact True Interactive to help you manage your online marketing – it’s what we do 24/7.

Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash