Top Q&A from Our Webinar on Reaching the Right Audience for Your Noncredit Program
Earlier this month I co-presented the webinar Reaching the Right Audience for Your Noncredit Programs, with Jessica Merrick, Boston University Metropolitan College’s Associate Director at the Center for Professional Education. We discussed how to effectively implement marketing tactics for your specific audience, and how to maintain a consistent brand, message and mission throughout. You can go here to view the recorded webinar. Here are some highlights from our Q&A:
How did you make the initial decision to launch the programs in the beginning … initial marketing research?
When helping our partner schools determine to launch a certain program, we support them with market research. Among the factors we look at are:
- Workforce need the program will provide
- Jobs or skills that people can get when completing the course or program
- Current state and growth projection for the industry or specific career/skill track
- Local business that could support the growth through cohort based approach
- Other environmental factors or trends
- Competitive landscape
- Program keyword search volume
Developing the customer personas makes so much sense! But how do you truly target new people? Are you using Facebook tools like custom audience to generate leads?
There are a variety of ways we are capturing new people for our university programs.
- Social channels allow you to target people in certain locations, using demographics like education, profession, life events, and behavior. We can match these criteria to our personas. Lookalike Audience targeting allows us to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your program because they’re like your existing students.
- Retargeting visitors to our school’s program sites through AdWords, Facebook, and LinkedIn helps identify highly qualified prospective students.
- Using keywords in AdWords campaigns that appeal to our custom personas is another tactic to target new students
As we mentioned during the webinar, we believe in a multi-channel approach to marketing.
With minimal budget, what tactics do you use to begin to know your audience?
When marketing budgets are tight, it is often hard to justify doing market research to better understand your audience. Fortunately, there are ways to learn more about your audience that do not require extensive investment.
- Look at your current students in the program to gather demographic information. Are there similarities they share (i.e. age, geography, industry career changers)? If your audience is diverse, break it into key segments.
- For a new program, look at similar programs from your competition to see who they are targeting.
- For both new and existing programs, think about what people can do upon completion from this program. For example, will they be able to get a new job? If so, research profiles of people that work in that industry to better understand them.
- Learn as much as possible about prospective learners, including their lifestyle, habits, preferences, needs, dislikes, favorites, and more. Ways to do this are to attend conferences that they attend, subscribe to news sites (most often free) that they read – to better understand what is important to them.
- Interact with prospective learners. Conduct mini-focus groups and pay them in pizza. If you have people that speak with students directly, ask them what they are hearing. For example, we use the information we gather from our call center to understand student’s needs and concerns. Course evaluations can be also be valuable resources of demographic information.
- Look at data from tools like Google Analytics and your CRM (Salesforce,for instance) to identify behavior patterns. Identify which pages your prospects are frequently visiting on your site or which channels or lead sources are driving them to your website. Understanding where learners are coming from and their web behavior gives you lots of marketing insight.
We have offered similar programs, but have been challenged charging a fee that will cover the cost of marketing, particularly with the first two courses.
This is a common issue with new programs. It’s important to look at the level of investment necessary to get a program up and running knowing that the initial few years may not be profitable. MindMax has helped many institutions determine the appropriate budget and marketing strategy based on expected return on investment. To discuss specific department and program goals, please contact us today.
What systems and SaaS are you using for outreach and for student admission counselors?
For our Boston University online programs that we support, we are using Salesforce and Pardot. Salesforce is supporting our Enrollment Advisors with outreach tracking and follow-up. Pardot is supporting our lead nurturing sequences and campaign tracking.
At MindMax, we are technology agnostic. We can work with a school’s existing systems or use our systems on behalf of the schools.
How does MindMax work in a local market targeting local people in our area?
Using AdWords and social channels, we geo-target campaigns for our school partners. In addition to geo-targeting, we do work with the school to determine if there are any local targeting or niche targeting opportunities. Some examples include:
- Local newspaper or online publications
- Business to business outreach for programs that would benefit from business or organization cohorts
- Local press outreach for a newly developed program that is meeting a work force need in the local community
Who do we contact at MindMax to discuss the business model for partnering?