How Converge Effectively Incorporates Conversation Ads into Higher Education Marketing Campaigns

December 3, 2020

A woman sits on a step outdoors looking ahead confidently.

Editor's Note: This guest post was co-written by Reshma Massaro, Paid Social Channel Manager at Converge.

When it comes to converting prospective students currently in the market, reach and engagement are essential elements to success. Because today’s prospective students have more options than ever, it’s marketing’s job to cut through this noise and stay top of mind throughout the research and decision process.

So how do you do this? Platform selection, or the places where you market to prospective students, is one key. Research has shown that LinkedIn members are 2x more intent driven and 1.7x more receptive to ads thanks to the unique mindset they’re in when using our platform. If you’re reading this post on LinkedIn, take a moment to consider how your own engagement on LinkedIn differs from other social platforms. 

Another key to “winning” the consideration phase of a prospective student’s journey is through quality engagement. That engagement hinges on delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. But for too long, Higher Education marketers have been forced to infer what information their audience wants. I have a simpler solution: let prospective students tell you what they need and then deliver that information to them in the moment. 

Learn from real-world success

As a Client Solutions Manager at LinkedIn, I’ve seen this approach yield success using our recently launched Conversation Ads.  But don’t just take my word for it. Converge – a marketing agency that works with many Higher Education institutions – has seen the power of this ad format firsthand. The agency was one of our first partners to pilot Conversation Ads and saw an immediate increase in open rates, conversion rates, and lead quality.

In a recent discussion, Reshma Kharawla – a Paid Social Channel Manager for Converge – shared her agency’s experiences and advice for taking advantage of our newest ad format.

As she explains, “Especially during this time of uncertainty, there are more macro factors affecting the consumer buying process. We can customize the Conversation Ads CTA to meet potential students wherever they are in the conversion funnel.”

The agency uses Conversation Ads in combination with Sponsored Content as an effective way to nurture prospective students. According to Reshma, “We’ve always taken a multi-format approach with our campaign structure, so we align this unique ad format with the conversion funnel. Doing so helps us identify the right type of language and conversation to prompt within the experience.”

Converge also recognizes the combined strength of Conversation and Message Ads. “Both work really well as conversion drivers, but we’ve seen success within both formats for different types of programs and objectives, so they are always working collectively.” 

5 best practices for using Conversation Ads

Based on the success of Converge’s campaigns, here are five best practices Reshma and I recommend to successfully use Conversation Ads.

1. Enable a full-funnel marketing approach

Taking advantage of the right ad formats at the right time enables schools to stay engaged with students from awareness through to application. Conversation Ads complement our Sponsored Content and Message Ads options to help address the full funnel. Sponsored Content is great for branding and thought leadership and Conversation Ads can deliver mid-funnel engagement like driving webinar registrations and ebook downloads. From there, Message Ads are effective for sharing special offers, such as application fee waivers, that help students finalize their decision.

2. Tap into the flexibility of Conversation Ads

Conversation Ads are flexible enough to be used for middle and upper-funnel tactics like encouraging content consumption. You can also connect them to our Lead Gen Forms to drive lower-funnel actions, such as getting in touch with admissions personnel. In fact, you can present multiple options to prospective students via Conversation Ads to see what resonates, helping you narrow in on the most relevant offers for your audience.

3. Use templates for easy campaign launches and lead collection

Because Campaign Manager includes pre-built templates aligned with common marketing objectives, launching a campaign with Conversation Ads is quick and easy. Once you select your advertising objective, you’ll see a pre-populated template with relevant copy. From there, you can also easily attach one of  our in-platform Lead Gen Forms to provide a seamless experience for prospective students raising their hands as leads and looking for more information.

4. Embrace a personalized, customer-centric approach

A quick and easy way to pull this off is by sending messages from a recognized person, such as the head of a program, department or school. At the same time, stay authentic to the school’s brand by using language in line with its web presence. Reshma underscores that it’s smart to lay a foundation before launching your campaign. “Ensure your school has a strong LinkedIn presence so the audience is already familiar with the brand.”

5. Take full advantage of Conversation Ads’ unique format

Don’t waste the opportunity to let your audience tell you what they want to engage with.  As Reshma explains: “If the questions in the conversation are too short or very binary, you’re not taking full advantage of the conversation to provide a potential warm lead with a nurture path or convert someone who is ready to apply.”

Start engaging prospective students

If you’re looking for a way to boost enrollment numbers, consider adding Conversation Ads to your marketing mix. In addition to serving personalized content aligned with the prospect’s journey, this ad format can help your prospects instantly access the content and offers most interesting to them, driving higher-quality engagement. Watch this on-demand webinar and learn how to turn conversations into conversions with LinkedIn Conversation Ads.

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