Quality B-School Leads at a Lower Cost
Learn How William & Mary Drives Leads that Enroll
June 15, 2017
The Mason School of Business at William & Mary College was able to convert over 60% more enrolled students with LinkedIn than with Google AdWords, at 2.5 times lower advertising spend. Here’s how.
As the second oldest college in the U.S. after Harvard University, William & Mary College is one of the most historic higher education institutions in the nation. Indeed four of the first 10 U.S. presidents studied there. Yet historic doesn’t mean stagnant, and for the marketing team at the College’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business forging new paths to find qualified MBA candidates meant rethinking their approach to digital advertising.
“We have specialized graduate degrees that required more targeted marketing,” said Lendora Johnson, Manager of Marketing Planning at the Mason School of Business, in discussing why LinkedIn became part of their marketing mix. According to Johnson, Mason has a very competitive undergraduate program that recently was ranked first in the country by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. However, they found that the traditional tactics they had relied on for undergraduates – including Google AdWords – were not attracting the kind of students they sought for its graduate programs.
Specifically Mason’s Executive MBA program and the part-time Flex MBA appealed to more niche markets including working professionals who could fund their tuition through their employers and individuals who due to family or work commitments required a more flexible class schedule.
With a robust alumni network totaling some 14,000 graduates worldwide, Johnson knew that tapping into Mason’s professional circles on LinkedIn could help to identify qualified candidates who fit these niche markets as well as help increase diversity, another goal for the business school. “Like all other colleges, we rely on marketing to introduce ourselves to our prospective students,” she said. “However, LinkedIn gave us the kind of hyper-targeting capabilities we needed to get in front of well-qualified prospects.”
Using specific targeting facets such as location, career types, and specific companies, the Mason School of Business ensured it was reaching the right target audience with the right message. For instance, a new Sponsored Content campaign for the Flex MBA program focused on increasing the number of female applicants to address the “glass ceiling” issue for women in business. The campaign featured testimonials from female students and graduates, with messaging focused on enhancing work/life balance.
The school also focused on targeting by geography in a “Beyond the Beltway” campaign. “There are an abundance of MBA programs in the Washington, D.C. area, so by extending our targeting outside of the area, we’ve been very successful and have been able to maintain a reasonable cost per lead,” added Johnson.
Enhanced targeting ability wasn’t the only benefit Johnson found with her LinkedIn campaigns. She also appreciated the unique ability to stop and start campaigns at any time and easily change targeting segments or adjust creative. That allowed the Mason School of Business to make the most of its online marketing budget, paying only for Sponsored Content that garnered engagement, and optimizing campaigns to decrease the cost per click.
LinkedIn campaigns produced incredible ROI beyond cost per lead,” said Johnson."
It’s a really good way to test different things without committing to a fiscal year’s worth of creative or an extensive contract. This form of advertising allows you to experiment and figure out what works. LinkedIn makes everything that a marketer does so much easier.”
The results speak for themselves. According to Johnson, the Mason School of Business LinkedIn campaigns resulted in:
- Conversion of over 60% more leads to enrolled students than Google AdWords, at 2.5 times a lower ad spend
- An average click through rate (CTR) more than 50% above LinkedIn benchmarks
- Top-performing campaigns exceeding benchmarks by more than 4.5 times the average
- Average engagement rate more than 51% above LinkedIn benchmarks
- William & Mary’s Company Page followers increasing by more than 100%