Duke University sees a 400 percent increase in conversions using LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

August 4, 2015

duke university campus

Duke University’s Cross Continent MBA program offers a unique value proposition that can be difficult to convey through traditional ad formats. The fact that you can live anywhere in the world, retain your current job, and attend residencies in cities around the globe—all while earning a world-class MBA—is frankly a lot to cram into a 300 x 250 display ad.

Sometimes you just need more real estate to tell your story—and a more direct and personal way to tell it. Just ask Elizabeth Hogan, Associate Dean for Global Marketing at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

When Hogan and her team wanted to educate prospects internationally about Duke’s innovative MBA program, they chose LinkedIn’s newly upgraded Sponsored InMail as their channel of choice.

Why? Sponsored InMail was the perfect vehicle for a number of reasons, but especially because:

  1. It’s personal. Sponsored InMail is the most direct way to engage prospects on LinkedIn, like tapping a colleague on the shoulder at a networking event and saying, “Hey, did you see this?”
  2. It’s professional. If you’re targeting people with a professional mindset, focused on furthering their careers—look no further than LinkedIn.
  3. It’s oh-so targeted. Duke was able to segment by seniority, geography, and degree to reach just the right prospects.

Duke delivered valuable content in the most personal way possible on LinkedIn — right to the top of member inboxes

Because InMail only gets delivered when members are actively engaged on the site, deliverability is 100% and the open rates tend to be much higher than traditional email. In fact, Duke’s InMail campaign enjoyed an unprecedented 68 percent open rate.

Phenomenal open rates aside, InMail was the ideal channel for delivering the Duke Cross Continent MBA message because it enabled Hogan and her team to get both personal and detailed with prospects. They were able to pack enough program features into their mobile-optimized InMail to pique curiosity. Plus, a sticky call-to-action helped to nudge interested students to take the next step and request more details.

Targeting by seniority, geography, and degree enabled Duke to convert interested prospects in a shorter amount of time

Hogan and her team surmised that LinkedIn members of a certain seniority in possession of an undergraduate degree were likely to be most interested in what they had to say. And they were right. In some of their target countries, like India, Russia, and Latin America, they were able to start conversations that their admissions counselors were able to convert to students in as little as five months.

“One of the extraordinary things about this InMail campaign is that we have two students starting in August who had never heard of this program when they received our InMail in March. In the history of my marketing experience at this school, I’ve never seen us convert that quickly.

Elizabeth Hogan, Associate Dean, Global Marketing, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

The campaign resulted in a 400 percent increase in conversions in key regions. Just two years earlier, Duke had spent $10,000 on a successful InMail program in Russia, which delivered 150 leads. This year they spent half as much and generated twice the leads.

Hogan attributes the exceptional results in part to the upgraded delivery and optimization features of InMail, but also credits her team for continually optimizing their message and honing their target criteria to improve outcomes. In marketing, as in life, the key to success is to never stop learning.

For 74 percent of professionals, LinkedIn is where they get content that’s relevant to their career and professional interests

To reach and engage prospective business school students you have to go where they go. Duke’s marketing team knew that LinkedIn could help them target their ideal candidates in key markets across the globe. And Duke’s not alone. There are 25K+ colleges and universities currently leveraging the LinkedIn platform for the very same reason—it’s where they can not only connect with current and prospective students, but keep up with the all-important alumni segment too.

If you’d like to learn how you can reach and engage more of the right people with Sponsored InMail and other tools from the newly expanded LinkedIn platform The LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Platform Overview.