Mastering the Mid-Funnel: How One School Measured Its Way to Success With LinkedIn

May 7, 2021

A female student sitting at a library desk focused on her computer. Another male student is seen in the background studying.

One of the largest, online universities in the country watched enrollment across its colleges nearly double over the past six years. Even as a pioneer in online education, the school needed to stay competitive through a savvy and integrated mix of brand-building, mid-funnel engagement, and lead generation. 

But it can be challenging for higher education marketers to gain a holistic, full-funnel view over the duration of a prospective student’s decision journey, which can easily be six to 12 months. With LinkedIn as a partner, the school succeeded in connecting the dots in a way that aligned marketing teams and drove higher conversion rates. 

A Matter of Measurement

The school’s marketing team was keeping its midfunnel packed with engaging content that was driving high-quality traffic to the website. The warm leads, however, went untracked and were essentially invisible to the direct response team. 

The direct response team needed to know how mid-funnel tactics were impacting the two most important KPIs: application volume and cost per application. In addition, determining which platform was driving the best ROI was essential to making smart marketing investments in real time. 

The solution was leveraging LinkedIn’s in-feed video and lead gen forms as part of their marketing mix to retarget the existing mid-funnel video viewers and generate new apps. By creating distinct mid-funnel segments, the mid-funnel team was able to create high-intent audiences that viewed at least 25% of the video, opened a lead form, or submitted their info. 

The Direct Response team was able to segment these high-intent audiences into distinct retargeting groups and aligned the school’s marketing teams to easily track cost per acquisition (CPA) and compare the CPA to other campaigns not using the same mid-funnel retargeting pools. These methods, paired with new retargeting abilities, allowed the school to understand blended costs for a prospect moving through the funnel from awareness to application.

With the newfound ability to connect mid-funnel and direct response efforts by using retargeting segmentation, the school realized a 30% reduction in CPA with campaigns retargeting the mid-funnel audience. That’s 70% more efficient than the quarterly average. At the same time, application volume increased by 13% and a shift of investment on LinkedIn yielded a 3X return. With LinkedIn as a partner, the school succeeded in connecting the dots in a way that aligned their marketing teams and drove higher conversion rates. 

Building on what Works: 3 Key Tips for Engagement, Measurement, and Optimization

The school’s experience is not unique. As a new wave of students considers degree and certificate programs, it is critical higher education marketers put a premium on accurate measurement as prospective students move from awareness to consideration and enrollment. 

During my time as a Client Solutions Manager, working with higher education marketers, I’ve identified three essential practices that help connect the dots in what can be a complex process. 

  1. The first tactic is well known to higher education marketers but it’s one that often gets short changed in the day-to-day struggle to drive fresh leads: Developing the right mid-funnel strategy, which includes choosing the right content to engage prospective students. You’ve already invested in brand awareness, now’s the time to engage with prospects in the consideration phase of their journey. This is the place for alumni features, faculty profiles, success stories, and narratives that show prospects how your school fits with their personal journey. 

  2. Once you’ve got your mid-funnel stocked with plenty of content geared towards prospects considering your school, make sure you can measure what’s working and retarget accordingly. Here’s where LinkedIn tools play an important role. With video ads and lead gen forms, you can see which audiences are connecting with which pieces of content. This allows you to tailor your retargeting messages, deepen your engagement with prospects, and drive more conversions. 

  3. Finally, with a well-tuned retargeting operation in place, higher education marketers are in a position to optimize their investments and grow the channels that are yielding the best results. When upper-funnel marketers augment retargeting pools, they are creating more opportunities for direct response teams to convert prospects and drive applications. 

The more sophisticated and integrated a higher education marketing operation becomes, the more effectively it can take advantage of LinkedIn’s portfolio of tools to make every interaction count more and realize more enrollments. 

This is an exciting time for higher education. As the economy adjusts and adapts to the disruption of the pandemic, many people will turn to higher education in search of new skills. 

To find out how to drive enrollments and reduce CPA, please contact your sales representative or visit our website

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