This is an exciting time for digital marketing. The platforms, technologies, and analytics available to marketers have never been more plentiful, and the ways in which your prospects respond to their usage is changing every day.

At the same time, more and more brands are understanding the importance of digital marketing. The result is continually rising costs, and fierce competition for prospective students’ time and attention. 

As the landscape of what works in digital marketing – and what appeals to prospective students searching for reasons and locations for going back to school – changes at such a rapid pace, it’s crucial your marketing strategy evolves alongside it.

For example:

  • Programmatic advertising is changing the landscape of digital ads so quickly that almost 90% of U.S. display ads are expected to be programmatic by 2020.
  • People are 15 times more likely to use the phrase near me in their searches than they were just five years ago. At Archer, we’ve found nearly 12% of our traffic comes from search terms including ‘near me.’
  • 60% of people performed voice searches in 2017 (a 3400% increase from 2008 that just keeps growing).
  • By 2020, 80% of enterprises will use chatbots, and they will help businesses save over $8 billion a year by 2022.

When Hubspot learned that its users were 21% more likely to click a red CTA button than a green one, it also learned that the test didn’t just affect this single click.

“A 21% increase in the conversion of this page is potentially a 21% increase to all downstream metrics,” it said. “So by getting 21% more people to click at the top of this process, we added 21% at the bottom as well. This is why optimizing pages is so valuable. We did not have to increase traffic to the page to see improved results.”

However, testing without a long-term plan and strategy does not set your institution up for success. By creating a plan, defining what you want from your enrollment marketing campaigns, and determining how you will measure the success of your efforts, you will be on your way to a winning testing strategy.

Here are 3 tests you can begin today to improve your enrollment marketing ROI:

Test Your Target Audiences

Before diving into any more specific tactical tests, it’s important you’re getting your message in front of the right audience. The people you suspect will be most likely to enroll (or those you just want to enroll) may not be those who actually are. Figure out which audiences are most likely to respond to your message before doing anything else. Make sure you are testing audiences against each other on the same channel, so you’re comparing apples to apples. Don’t, for example, test one audience on Facebook and another in your display ads. Test one against the other on a single platform before moving on.

Test Your Value Propositions

As students become more aware of their higher education options, you need to work smarter to determine what is different and unique about your university and its programs. Can you differentiate yourself by cost, outcomes, flexibility, program offerings? Which of these is most likely to resonate with your target audience? Testing them against each other is the best way to find out. Here’s how to get started:

  • Use Google’s responsive search ads to gather some preliminary data with which to make better-informed decisions, then take what you learn and A/B test on other platforms.
  • A/B test, or split test, to see which value propositions perform best. This means show one half of your audience version A of a piece of marketing, and show the other half version B. Depending on platform, there may be automated ways to do this, or you may have to do it manually.
  • Focus on just one or two value propositions at a time. Trying to test all of them at once will leave you with less clear results than focusing on one against another. Think of it like a vision test at the eye doctor: test option one against option two, then test the winner against option three, and so on.

Test Your Creative Formats

What type of creative resonates most with your target audience? Flat images, image carousels, videos? Overarching digital trends and best practices can give you a place to start, but it’s likely your audience is unique and won’t always respond the way it’s “supposed to.” Luckily, you can find out what works best for your institution:

  • Split testing works best for creative, too. Once you’ve determined which value prop is most effective, present it to your audience in different ways. Do they respond better to a carousel of images showing career outcomes, or a short day-in-the-life video snippet of that same outcome?
  • Give testing enough time. Some institutions want to pull back from testing too quickly, afraid of wasting money on marketing tactics with low ROI. However, we encourage sticking it out. Not only do certain tactics require time to build up and reach the correct audiences, but a more significant testing timeline will provide you more data with which to make decisions in the future.
  • Along those lines, don’t be afraid to test again. If one tactic or creative format wins, even if it’s by a landslide, consider testing the other again in the future. The digital landscape is still changing rapidly, and it will continue to.

If you’re looking for assistance in crafting your digital enrollment marketing strategy – from target audience all the way down to tactic testing – consider partnering with Archer. Our expertise in enrollment marketing and our proven ability to keep up with changing trends and technologies will help ensure an increased ROI. Reach out today!