Higher Ed Marketers Are Losing the Last Click War. Here Are 3 Ways You Can Reclaim Your Value

January 14, 2020

As a Higher Ed marketer, you don’t always get the credit you deserve.

And frankly, Higher Ed marketers can be their own worst enemies. We spend countless hours combing through data to uncover any potential advantage. We labor over minor copy iterations to squeeze out a few more clicks.

And when we’re asked to bottom line it all into a last-click cost per enrollment, those hours all go to waste.

Here are the top three ways last-click measurement is diminishing your value – and three things you can do to claim your rightful worth.

Failing to Assign Enough Credit to Paid Marketing

Partnering with higher ed advertisers on LinkedIn, our analysts assess the impact of paid marketing on new enrollments. The data often shows a disproportionate amount of credit attributed to organic or website conversions. In one case, an online school credited 68% of their enrollments to unpaid channels.

Are we to believe that over 2/3rds of new students chose this school’s MBA program, of all possible MBA programs, through word-of-mouth and were not impacted by the millions spent on advertising?

How did these prospective students hear about this school and how did this school make it onto their  initial shortlist? Consider the average Higher Ed school enrollment cycle is 4.6 months. Focusing only on the last action of that student journey devalues the impact of our marketing efforts along the way.

Inaccurately Assessing Marketing Channel Performance

Last-click tunnel vision also makes it impossible to accurately assess the performance of each marketing channel.

In one study, a school identified 106 students whose final click prior to enrolling was on a LinkedIn paid ad. Our analysts found over 4x more students clicked on that LinkedIn campaign prior to enrolling (see below). Moreover, we found that 29x more students were exposed to LinkedIn ads prior to enrolling:

An outdated attribution method inflated impact of channels that are part of the student’s natural online progression – as we saw bulk of credit going to branded search or website.

Underestimating the Impact of Your Marketing Mix

Each of your channels can drive a unique impact at different stages of the student journey. It’s crucial to understand how these channels work in concert to move students forward.

LinkedIn data shows significant growth in enrollment rate on all channels when prospects are exposed to or engage with campaigns on LinkedIn:

As this school engages new prospects on LinkedIn, their funnel is becoming cleaner – filled only with the most qualified and most professionally ambitious prospects, benefiting all channels.

How to Get the Credit You Deserve

Based on best practices of our most sophisticated partners, here are three ways you can earn full credit for the value you deliver:

  • Measure the impact of marketing efforts on outcomes over the full length of the student journey. Consider a multi-touch attribution partner or an assisted lead conversion calculation to correlate marketing efforts with enrollments.
  • Create hold-out audiences to evaluate a channel’s impact on your marketing mix. By excluding a segment of your audience from seeing your ads on one channel over 1-2 terms, you can assess performance changes with that audience & compare to overall performance.
  • Consider your cost per poor-quality lead. There’s a reason for the adage, “You get what you pay for.”  Poor lead quality not only leads to higher acquisition costs, but also sacrifices performance of your admissions team who have to follow-up with prospects who are not right for your program.  High quality leads convert better and perform better throughout their time in your program. For example, according to LinkedIn data, students with LinkedIn profiles before enrolling have a 2.5 x higher graduation rate and take 25% less time to graduate.

Reach out to LinkedIn for help earning the credit you deserve!