How to Engage Students Using Retargeting
A student comes to your education institute’s website. He clicks over to the Music courses and stars browsing through the different qualifications. Then he closes his browser and leaves for work. Is that it? Is there any other way to re-engage lost website visitors who may still be interested in studying at your institution?
Luckily, there certainly is a way with retargeting. This method of marketing involves tracking the movements of leads across different sites and using what is known about them to redirect them back to your site. This can be done through Google Adwords, banner ads and tracking codes, similar to what Facebook does with its ads.
So how can you effectively engage students using retargeting methods? What are some retargeting best practices that you should be implementing. Here is our complete guide to retargeting for education institutions.
Understand the Student Lifecycle
Choosing a place of study is not the same as choosing what to have for breakfast. Many students toil over this decision for months and do plenty of research so that when they send out applications, they feel confident that they’ve made the right decision overall.
Not all students are at the same place when they visit your website or check out your Facebook page. That’s why it’s so important for you to understand the lifecycle of a prospective student so you can better understand their needs and tailor your content and marketing strategies to address those needs.
Consider this lifecycle:
Stage #1 – Not Graduated: You can start targeting prospective students long before they are eligible to enter your institution. Obviously, you can’t retarget here, but you can send out ads on certain websites. For example, Facebook advertising allows you to market to certain demographics. If you market to 18 year olds, you can introduce your institution to them before they even start searching.
Stage #2 – First Google Search: Students are just starting to think about studying at a TAFE or university. Most of the time, they don’t know what they want to study, they might have idea about which city or state they’d like to study in.
Stage #3 – Course Search: Now searches are getting a little more specific. Students are bouncing around among institutions that offer qualifications mainly in one or two fields.
Stage #4 – Realist Search: After students get a better feel for what they want to study, it’s time to start looking into the financial side of things. Students will want to have a clear idea of how much they will have to pay, and they will want to be more prepared for book costs and well as housing costs.
Stage #5 – What Else? Search: Once students have a better idea about where and what they want to study, they can start looking at competing factors between education institutions. They might look at what is available to do around campus, teaching credentials of staff members and other perks of a certain institution. Anything that can help sway a student from one institute to another will be leveraged here.
By this point, a student should be ready to make an informed decision about his or her education. At the very least, the search should be down to two or three schools. With the right retargeting advertising strategy, you can keep your institution in the back of your prospective student’s mind.
Identify What Visiting a Page Could Mean
For any prospective student, an education institution’s website is going to be the best source of information, which is why it’s so important that your website is high quality. Assuming it is, you can track the movements of visitors on your site and send them ads based on what they’re looking at.
When a student visits certain pages of your site, it usually correlates to one of the stages in the lifecycle we mentioned above. Identify these actions and start retargeting:
Home page: Students who don’t make it past the homepage have probably just started their search. To keep them on your site longer, make sure you have pages for prospective students that provides basic information about your institution and encourages them to look around.
Course page: Students looking here are probably at Stage 2 or 3, depending on how well a student knows what they wants to study. Remember to make these pages as welcoming and inviting as possible. Use tabs to make it easier to organise information while still making each tab accessible to all visitors.
Financial ad pages: As student finances are a huge concern at Stage 4, these pages should be your most polished and clean. Be sure to include contact information here for students who read the information but still have questions.
All of your pages should include links to your blog, where students can sign up to receive newsletters. As your blog should be posting useful articles on the application process, students may find this to be an excellent resource, and it presents your institution in a positive light.
Visiting a blog or other pages about campus and housing are strong indicators of a Stage 5 student. Now is the crucial time when you should be remarketing to your leads. Using Google Analytics, you can track the movements of site visitors and retarget them in a way that better coincides with their needs.
Retarget the Lead
Now comes the fun part: the remarketing itself. Using all the data you’ve collected about your leads thus far, it’s time to use it to remarket your institution and brand to prospective students who have left your site. Try a few of these methods:
Site remarketing: For students who visit course pages and financial aid pages, you can create specific ads to remind visitors why they would want to come back to your site. To track pages, Google Analytics will provide you with a snippet of code that you will embed in each page. The ads will appear to other websites that have contracted with Google, and their message will mirror the prospective student’s behaviour. If a student is browsing a certain course, the ad will be promoting the course.
Email remarketing: After a lead opens an email from you, you can start displaying ads based on that email, even if the receiver never clicks through on it. Since parents as well as students often sign up for these ads, you can send a positive message about your institution to parents so you can keep them interested.
Social media marketing: As most of your students and parents will be on social networking sites, you can also retarget them using Facebook advertising. With the Custom Audience feature, you can target coinciding email addresses in your database that match up with Facebook accounts and send them advertisements and promoted posts that showcase a relevant blog article or promote an upcoming information session.
Retargeting keeps your institution fresh in the minds of students and encourages engagement throughout the application process. If you’re diligent about remarketing, then your leads will never be more than a few clicks away from your site.