GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency


GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Alicia Lyons | March 29th, 2019

Awareness Ads vs. Remarketing Ads: What’s Missing from Your Online Campaigns?

At GPRS we employ a full funnel approach. You may be comfortable with search and display ads, but how experienced are you with awareness and remarketing campaigns? Without them, there’s a very good chance you’re missing out on critical leads.

Awareness Campaigns

Ad awareness on computer, tablet and phoneAn awareness campaign lives at the very top of the funnel. They are the simplest campaigns to deploy. A potential lead has never heard of your program. They may be considering going back to school to further their career but don’t know yet which college they’d like to attend. They may be researching through Google when they come across your awareness ad.

An awareness ad is directed at a large audience, often using broad keywords in order to cast a wide net for potential leads. These ads take a much softer approach to sales than remarketing ads, which many times encourage prospective students to “Apply Now!” or push them with an admissions deadline. In an awareness campaign, you might choose to highlight that you are a top-ranked university with the kind of program that would interest them. They may not be familiar with your school, or the options you provide, but a well-written awareness ad could entice them to explore further and request information – or a contact.

An awareness ad can be a search, display, or social media ad. A search ad should include general information about your school and the degree program. You can peak their interest with words like – “No GMAT” or “Fixed Tuition”. You could try highlighting degree length or overall ROI. Display ads should include welcoming or interesting images that will catch the browser’s eye. The Call to Action (CTA) is usually a term such as “Learn More” and will lead to the homepage of your degree program’s website. This way candidates are given the opportunity to educate themselves on your programs.

Things to remember when creating an awareness campaign:

  • Don’t overcrowd ads with information but use brief enticing headlines
  • To optimize your budget, work on your geo-targeting and audience demographics
  • Employ an omni-channel campaign incorporating all of the marketing platforms including Google Ads, social media, your website, and SEO

Most leads will not convert with an awareness campaign alone, but it is a critical step in filling the funnel for the long term. And a foundation for remarketing campaigns to activate.

Remarketing Campaigns

There may be times when you’re browsing Facebook and you suddenly start to see ads from a website that you have visited in the past. This is an example of a remarketing campaign. A remarketing campaign is aimed at a much narrower audience. These individuals have already visited your website but haven’t yet converted.

A remarketing campaign typically has a much stronger sell. You can encourage prospects to apply by stressing your admissions deadline, advertising an upcoming event, or encouraging them to contact an admissions counselor. Remarketing campaigns can have a CTA of “Apply Now!”, “Download our Brochure”, or “Contact Admissions”.

Things to remember about remarketing campaigns:

  • Start remarketing with your top performing ads
  • Back up your results by tracking your campaigns
  • Choose the optimal frequency cap to not over saturate your audience

Great marketing plans start with a solid awareness strategy to capture the top of the funnel audience, followed by a strong remarketing campaign strategy to nurture those leads into conversions. Remember the audience that is being retargeted has already been imprinted with your brand, and has shown a level of interest – now you have a foundation from which to build on.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | March 15th, 2019

Why your local marketing agency won’t help you meet your enrollment goals.

There’s a firm in town that’s been reaching out.  They’re really nice, and have a great website.  Some of the other departments are using them and seem to like them.  Sounds like a no-brainer for your graduate program’s needs, right?

Unfortunately not, and this is a very common mistake.  Further, it holds especially true if the program was looking for qualified lead generation that could be directly associated with enrollment, and not simply a brand advertising campaign.

So why is the local agency the wrong choice?  It’s not because they’re local, but because they’re generalists.  Of course they’ll tell you that their marketing expertise can be applied across industries, and is transferrable.  And even show you successful examples of that.  But this is different, graduate program marketing and recruitment is a unique animal.  The consumers are savvy, they’re difficult to pinpoint and connect with, and the decision making cycle can be lengthy before they choose to enroll.

Contending with very specific personas which require unique messages is another challenge.  Like veterans, stay-at-home-moms looking to return to the workforce, future entrepreneurs, those looking to change careers, and the more typical professional looking to advance their career or add to their skill sets.

Industry experience, mastery of lead generation channels, and highly capable measurement platforms for optimization and match back ROI are some of the most important factors you should consider when hiring support.  Graduate programs do not have the luxury of gambling with their marketing budgets – they need as close to a sure thing as they can find.

I recently talked to an MBA program that chose a local firm 9 months ago because their colleagues were using them.  Now that program director is panicking because she’s at risk of having her marketing budget cut by her superior.  Why, because though the firm got them exposure, and they received a lot of clicks, and some leads, applications are down and the enrollment window is quickly closing.  She shared that her boss was convinced, as a result of the previous efforts, that digital marketing doesn’t work for their program and that there’s less demand for MBA programs.  That’s exactly the opposite of what we’re seeing across our clients.  But then again that comes from highly specialized experience, exposure to programs across the entire country, and a data warehouse full of patterns highlighting the path to enrollment success.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Alicia Lyons | March 6th, 2019

SEM and SEO – Working Together to Boost Recruitment ROI

SEO and SEM are two very different animals, but they can be finessed into working harmoniously together. In order to create a complete and comprehensive graduate program marketing strategy, it’s best to apply them both holistically.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s how high your program appears in search results.  It uses free, algorithm-driven methods to achieve a high placement in search engine results.

The Keys to SEO:

  • Strong keywords in your titles and content
  • Keyword rich and fresh original content
  • Building backlinks
  • Faster page loading times

The good thing about organic SEO is that it’s free. However, unless you have an extremely niche market, which an MBA program does not, then it’s difficult to compete on SEO alone. Organic SEO is always something to consider when developing a website. And you want to harness it when looking to raise awareness of your programs, but it is further up the sales funnel and it will take longer to convert leads. However, don’t dismiss it, as you are likely to have a stronger paid marketing campaign if leads also see your organic SEO results. Now, let’s look at SEM.

What is SEM?

SEM or Search Engine Marketing is the process of using paid methods to garner search engine conversions.

Some examples of SEM are:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Google Ads
  • Google Display Ads

SEM is also conversion focused. Most of the paid advertising is targeted at landing pages or contact pages. This pushes students through the enrollment funnel faster than SEO. It urges them to take an action and convert.

SEO: earning traffic through unpaid means

SEM: acquiring traffic through paid means

How can SEO and SEM work together?


Your paid ads could also increase backlinks. Backlinks are links on external websites that lead back to your website and as a result give your website more credibility and a higher SEO score.  The more visibility that your website has then the more options for backlinks. So, although your backlinks don’t affect your SEM they do affect your SEO score. Your paid efforts will increase your visibility and therefore increase your organic results.

Promoting Your Content

A website is a great way to share fresh content, but it can be hard to find an audience.  Best practice is to write quality content that serves as an answer to the questions posed by users. Then you should promote the content using PPC ads and display ads.  The paid ad will take the user directly to the content, but it will also improve your search results and your position on the page. This makes it more likely for a user to click on your organic link.


When creating your PPC campaigns you will be asked to choose your relevant keywords. Keywords could be things like EMBA, EMBA program, best MBA degrees, and high ranking MBA degrees. These keywords are how a search engine will know what searches to serve your ads to. You can also use the same keywords on your website. This way search engines will pull your website for the same searches for free. Sprinkle a few keywords in the content of your website for the best results.

Using SEM and SEO together not only increases your search engine ranking, but in the long term it will also save you precious budget!



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For over two decades, GPRS has been a trusted higher education marketing agency, offering custom solutions to institutions of all sizes and degree types. Admissions directors, marketing directors, deans, and presidents rely on GPRS to provide a depth of services, including strategy, lead generation, digital marketing, nurture communications, recruiting, and analytics.

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