Lead Gen Campaigns – Digital Marketing 101

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Niche Digital Marketing 101

Part of the 101 series, an introduction to various topics for enrollment marketers.

What are Lead Generation (Lead Gen) Campaigns?

A lead generation campaign, often shortened to lead gen, is a paid or unpaid campaign whose goal is to increase the number of “leads.” To put that in education terms, these would be students or parents who are inquiring about your institution. The goal of lead generation is to find engaging, memorable, and timely ways to interest users so much that they ask you to tell them more. This is the key difference between lead generation and prospecting: prospecting is a cold contact to someone who may have never heard of you while lead generation is making content that piques someone’s interest enough that they come to you as a warm lead. In business terms this would be a market qualified lead, an MQL.

The campaign itself differs from a branding campaign in that the goal is not merely building awareness with those who don’t know you, but to reach the right people who will also be interested in you enough to request more information. This requires more segmentation and care in the content and landing page to not just provide the surface level information. There should be a reason to take that additional information and a trust on the users’ part that you will provide value in return.

Benefits of Lead Gen Campaigns:

  • A lead gen campaign allows you to reach students and families who otherwise wouldn’t find you. 
  • A lead generation campaign using search ads enables you to find students and families who are actively researching schools and colleges.
  • A well targeted campaign can be inexpensive, generating new inquiries for just a few dollars.

How to Plan and Launch a Lead Gen Campaign

Before starting a lead generation campaign it’s important to know who your audience is and where you will be reaching them. If you want more inquiries from parents, you should focus your campaign tactics around the platforms they’re on, Facebook for example, rather than TikTok. Your search and display targeting should also use keywords and audience characteristics that fit how parents behave when looking for a school for their child. 

A campaign to generate more inquiries from potential art majors should also look different from a campaign to generate more inquiries from engineering students. The language used, visual assets, and landing pages should all speak to who you are trying to reach. A one size fits all approach may still generate some interest, but not as well as it could. 

Once you have your audience defined, networks assigned, landing pages built, and assets collected you will want to design your experiments. If you need help getting started there’s the Niche Guide to Digital Marketing Experimentation and Optimization to help with that. Be sure to track the results of the experiments and optimize over time, but more importantly share the results of your experiments with your team and document them somewhere so you can remember for future campaigns. 

It can be helpful to have your inquiry form collect the source and medium of the user as well so you can track the actual results of your campaigns. How this is done differs by CRM, but usually there is a hidden field which will collect it. Contact the CRM admin at your institution for support. This is important because you will be able to track and report on the actual enrollment impact of your campaigns, which will help with budget requests in the future.

Speaking of budgets, setting the budget for your campaign should be done strategically and not using a “Well, I have X amount so that’s what I’ll spend” mentality. Work backwards by first knowing the value of an inquiry and setting your cost per acquisition less than that so that your campaign will have a positive ROI. You can also start by using a CPC (cost per click) campaign if your audience and targeting are well planned as well, but a very broadly targeted campaign will yield higher bounce rates and unproductive clicks.

Lead Gen with Niche

The easiest way to generate leads with Niche is to become a partner. Niche is the most used platform for PK-12 grade, college, and graduate school search. One in every two college bound seniors has a profile on Niche and uses it to add colleges to their virtual backpack and track their interests. These inquiries can be directly imported into your CRM. Additionally, Niche Intent-Based Remarketing displays ads across the web to prospects that have signaled interest in institutions like yours. Our proprietary data allows us to expand your reach to a broader pool of people you aren’t able to reach on your own. We are able to reach a user who we know is currently searching for colleges/K12 schools and is interested in a college/school like yours. These are the people who have engaged with your profile, competitor profiles or performed relevant searches on Niche. If you’re interested in learning more you can request a demo of our products.

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Will Patch

In addition to the Enrollment Insights blog, webinars, and podcast; Will is a frequent conference speaker and podcast guest. He has presented at NACAC, AACRAO-SEM, Indiana ACAC, CASE V, EduWeb, and EMA. Will's work has been featured in Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, CNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times among other outlets.

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