Leveraging First-Party Data To Increase Enrollment
Leveraging First-Party Data To Increase Enrollment

Leveraging First-Party Data To Increase Enrollment

Digital Marketing

Jared Brasten

Sep 05 2023

Applying first-party targeting to digital campaigns provides colleges and universities with a reliable formula for using current students and alumni to drive future admissions. Every college and university has a goldmine of first-party data at their fingertips waiting to be utilized. While leveraging this type of data for marketing purposes seems like a no-brainer, it’s not uncommon for marketers at institutions to underutilize or forgo this powerful marketing tool. 

What is first-party data and why is it important?

First-party data refers to the data your college or university collects and owns directly from sources such as your students, alumni, website visitors, social media followers, etc. The data collected can include, but is not limited to, names, email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses of prospective students. This data is valuable because it helps institutions be intentional with their marketing dollars and focus advertising efforts on audiences with a higher propensity to engage. 

Benefits of first-party data: 

– Cost-effective (each institution owns its own data!)
– It affords marketers the ability to create lookalike audiences
– Enhances predictive modeling
– Provides a method of matching specific people to target directly through digital advertising
– Ensures compliance under GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

How to Leverage First-Party Data To Drive Admissions

First-party data can be used in a number of ways to help colleges and universities enhance their efforts in recruiting new students. In most instances, the biggest limitation marketers face is their own creativity. The following strategies are just a few examples of how schools can improve enrollment efforts by capitalizing on their own data. 

Creating Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike audience targeting helps deliver ads to people who have similar interests, demographics, and online behaviors as your current students. Usually, the best place to start for colleges and universities is with a list of current students and alumni. The best practice is to segment your lists to get even more specific with the type of student you are trying to attract. 

If you are trying to recruit for undergraduate admissions, only use a list of current undergrad students and alumni. On the other hand, if you want to recruit for graduate school admissions, you would want to focus on using a list of current graduate school students and alumni. 

Applying this same concept to recruitment efforts for specific programs ensures that your lookalike audiences will be incredibly relevant. For example, if you are trying to attract students for your school’s law program, where better to start than with a list of current law students and law school alumni? 

Marketers have the option to use all visitors to the website or choose from specific pages on the site. Lookalike audiences enable you to prioritize the most valuable customers and prospects, while at the same time providing an opportunity for broad reach. Adtaxi helps college and university marketers find that balance, strategically targeting their audiences through an array of channels tailored to the specific goals of each campaign. Through lookalike audiences crafted from website visitors and social media followers, we’ve seen tremendous success in our campaigns.   

Matching Specific People to Target Directly

Most colleges and universities have lists of potential students from events like college fairs, mailing lists, or high school events. This 1st party data can be used to match these people, find them online, and serve them ads directly through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat or programmatically through platforms like Spotify, Connected TV, Pre-roll Video, Native, and Display. 

Layering this audience into the marketing mix can enhance other marketing efforts by giving potential students the opportunity to interact with your school digitally rather than through print or events alone. 

Nurture Accepted Students into Enrollment

Deciding what college or university to attend is a big decision. It is common for a potential student to be accepted, but not commit for a while (or at all). Targeting a list of accepted students who have not enrolled provides the perfect opportunity for these potential students to re-engage. 

The messaging of these ads should contain a stronger call to action with the goal of getting the student to take the final step of the admissions process. Making a student feel wanted by your institution goes a long way in improving enrollment. This simple additional targeting segment gets overlooked by many schools, yet this could be the difference in enrolling a prospective student in your institution over a competing school. 

Importance of Messaging and Understanding the Student Journey

Choosing the right school is a long-tail decision usually spanning multiple years and dozens of touchpoints. This is why omnichannel marketing campaigns tend to be the most successful within the education space. Addressing prospective students with the right message at the right time on the right platform can be the difference between missing, making, or exceeding your enrollment goals. 

Students consume an abundance of content from a variety of different mediums. Finding prospective students and nurturing them through the consumer journey from awareness to enrollment is significantly easier when utilizing first-party data. With the phasing out of 3rd party cookies, leveraging 1st party data is more necessary than ever. 

Taking advantage of first-party data is a smart way for universities to get ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape. Using first-party data can help universities understand their students and strengthen their position on the educational landscape. However, it’s not just about collecting the data, but also how to use it to better understand students and their needs. By looking into trends in student behaviors, preferences, and interests you can create tailored strategies that are more likely to be successful. This data can be used to create multiple target audience segments through lookalike audiences and direct matching, which can help enhance marketing efforts and yield more robust results. 

If you’re ready to start harnessing the power of first-party data, Adtaxi can help you make those insights actionable. Utilizing our detailed and targeted platform, we provide universities with a better understanding of their data, allowing them to make decisions that will benefit their operations for years to come and stay ahead of the competition.

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