Cross-Channel Marketing is Becoming the Norm

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April Clark
Strategic Sales

Once upon a time, direct mail was the only game in town for student communication.  Then everyone predicted that direct mail would soon be obsolete.  But direct mail didn’t die, it was put on the back burner by some, until it was discovered that such communication is both measurable and predictable.  If you understand the creative component, select appropriate lists and make the right “offer”… direct mail performs!

The next chapter reveals that lo! And behold! direct mail in combination with other direct marketing channels performs even better.  So multi-channel marketing was born and prospers.  We find that direct mail in conjunction with email and mobile marketing work well together.  Response rates increase and student quotas get filled.  All is well in the kingdom.  Cross-channel marketing is becoming the norm for college student prospecting and recruiting.  The theory being if admissions marketing doesn’t reach parents via direct mail, the text may interest the student, if not the text then an email may communicate with the family.

Services such as email append, cell phone append and landline append are available.  You purchase a postal list, and add these pieces of information to the list to allow cross-channel marketing.  As long as your subject line is brief and clear, as long as all channels have matching creative content that demonstrates your school “brand”, as long as the mobile creative fits smart phone screens and as long as you reach the right people… you are good to go, right?  Wrong – there is a new player in town!

Now you can add display ads that match your marketing efforts, easily and cost-effectively.  It is all in the timing.  For example, your mail piece goes out – and a week later your matching ad shows up when each person goes on the internet – and enters one of the millions of networked web sites.  AND there is the ad for your school.  This product is billed by each impression (when it is viewed) so you know it is being seen.  There are detailed reports and you will see the increased response to your mail piece, to your email campaign – because your display ad has a link to a specific school landing page or an invitation to visit your school with a code to use, or some sort of coupon offer – a discount at the campus store??

Here is how display ads work.  Computer IP addresses are appended to the postal list.  This channel is non-“cookie”, geo-targeted and very effective.  The display ad appearance can be pin-point scheduled to start appearing right after a direct mail piece goes out or an email message is sent.  The mail or email message has been seen, and then reinforced by the display ad showing up when they access their favorite web sites.  Creative includes a call to action, which gets interested students to learn more about your school.  We find that response rates for all other marketing channels increase when followed up with a display ad.

The result?  Student acquisitions increase with the addition of the display ad channel.  Interestingly enough, students like the idea that your college is “with it” and displays your ad this way.  It adds another dimension to your marketing.  You will agree that the more times and ways you “touch” your prospects, the better chance you have to tell your school’s story and that is the marketing name of the game – the chance to tell your story.

Will this work for you?  The best way to know this is to test, test, test – just as with any direct marketing mode.  Test against your control campaign and see if it increases your response rate.  Test with different lists to see what results you get.  Add display ads to your marketing mix and test to see what the results are.

Call – Click – Visit means you can offer your prospective families response options.  Give them an 800 number to call, give them a link to a web site to click and offer them a chance to visit your campus.  All of these response options need to be readily available in all your marketing channels.  You can test response by using different 800 numbers for different marketing tests, links to different landing pages, 20% off coupons with a code to the campus store – see what works and measure everything!

You have just 3 seconds to answer the three important questions that will keep your prospects reading more about your school – “What is it?”, “Who’s it about?” and “What do I get?”  Notice that answering these questions puts the student in the spotlight quickly. They are scanning for these three answers and bug out if the answers aren’t immediately evident.  All your communication channels need to answer them.

College marketing is even more of a challenge today because of rising costs, rumors that a college education doesn’t guarantee higher income, and too many choices.  These public perceptions are changing the college student recruiting land- scape and your multi-channel marketing plan is the key to winning students and families over.  Your goals are to shore up your value proposition and confront your marketing challenges – and cross-channel marketing accomplishes these goals.

For more information on appending landlines, cell phones, email addresses and IP addresses for display advertising – please feel free to call April Clark at CAS, 402-963-2049.  I can answer your questions and give you guidance.

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