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 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!


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Alicia Lyons | February 28th, 2019

LinkedIn InMail:  Hyper-Targeting Prospects for Enrollment

Computer with LinkedIn website on screen

How LinkedIn Can Benefit Your Recruiting ROI

LinkedIn is a platform often overlooked by most schools, as they prefer to lean towards SEM or Facebook, but LinkedIn can be a viable and essential medium for marketing graduate programs. LinkedIn is a networking platform that targets working professionals. It is also the number one platform for B2B marketing.


Statistics show that
  • 61 million LinkedIn users are senior level influencers
  • 40 million are in decision-making positions
  • 44% of LinkedIn users earn more than $75,000 a year


Sound familiar? This audience demographic is precisely the target market for graduate programs. Some of the benefits of targeting this demographic through LinkedIn are:

  • The majority of users interact with LinkedIn while at work. Also, some employers will contribute to on-going graduate education. Therefore if your prospective student sees your message while at work, this may spark an exploration or conversation with their employer about professional development.
  • Users on LinkedIn are looking to increase their skill sets and worth in their employer’s eyes. A majority are also looking for new career opportunities.
  • LinkedIn users treat the platform as a social network, following thought leaders, consuming content and forming personal/professional connections.


LinkedIn offers two forms of paid advertising:
  • Sponsored Content which is much like Facebook’s boosted posts. They are images, ads, and blog content that will appear on the users’ news feeds.
  • Sponsored InMails are specific to LinkedIn. InMails are messages that include the member’s name that will appear in the user’s LinkedIn messages. They are a personalized form of both awareness and remarketing ads.


How does InMail work?

InMail is simple and effective and works much like an email campaign. First, determine your budget and audience demographics. InMail can be pricey, so it is important to target well and develop compelling messaging.  Audience demographics should be determined by location, education, and career background.  Messaging needs to include a clear call to action and should be personalized.

How to write a good InMail

Write a brief but pointed message — 3 paragraphs of no more than 100 words each. Introduce yourself, why you are writing to them, what you are offering, the benefits to them, and why they should contact you. The message will be sent to a user’s inbox. The message will only be sent to users that are currently active on the platform, and there are strict frequency caps (a user can only receive an InMail every 45 days from any organization, not just yours specifically) to ensure that users don’t get inundated.

How does InMail generate leads?

InMails employ a combination of awareness and remarketing tactics. When a school introduces their program through an InMail, they are starting the awareness process. This tactic is at the top of the marketing funnel. These users are just becoming familiar with your programs. However, within that same InMail, the school can start encouraging the user to connect by advertising upcoming events, admissions deadlines, and calls for more information. Therefore, through one message a School has the opportunity to appeal to multiple points in the decision making/funnel process.

Beginning a Dialogue: When Leads Become Conversations

Engagement is much higher with InMail campaigns. The average open rate for most of our clients is 94%. A well written InMail with a solid CTA and a sense of urgency can quickly turn into a conversation or a request for more information on the program.


For more information on social marketing for graduate programs or other topics discussed in this article, please visit our blog.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Alicia Lyons | February 22nd, 2019

Know Your Audience – Graduate Program Audience Personas

In order to develop a marketing plan with impact, you must first determine who your prospective student should be. In order to do this you must ask yourself three questions:

  • Who are we?
  • What makes us stand out?
  • What individual would benefit the most from our program?

Who are we?

This may seem like a simple question, but you need to be specific if you are going to determine the types of prospective students that you want to attract. How large is your program? What tracks do you specialize in? Where is your program located? These are just a few questions that you could ask yourself. Try to keep it concise, yet targeted.

What makes us stand out?

What makes your program different than the others? Do you have professional mentoring, affordable tuition, or an international immersion experience? What values do you look for in candidates and what culture are you looking to foster? Why should a prospective student attend your program?

Who would benefit the most?

The best way to tackle this question is with audience personas. An audience persona is a semi-fictional representation of the prospective student that you are looking to attract to your program. You can shape your perfect student. Then Graduate Program Recruitment Solutions (GPRS) can get them through your door.

How to Create the Perfect Audience Persona

Ask the right questions:

  • What are their demographics? Gender, Age, Location.
  • What are their motivators?
  • What industries are they working in?
  • Where are they in their career trajectory?
  • What are their career aspirations?
  • What does your student enjoy? What are their interests? What are their hobbies?

These are just a few questions that you can ask as you create the perfect graduate student profile.

Create a Great Profile

Start to put this information together and create a hypothetical dossier for that student. Maybe include a photo or and sample student ID to add some realism.


  • If you need inspiration, look at some of your current students and alumni. What do they have in common? What patterns can you spot?
  • Try to keep them grounded in reality. Personas should reflect the best student opportunities for your program.
  • Don’t spend a great deal of time putting together the aesthetics of the report, it’s the information that counts.

Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Alicia Lyons | February 5th, 2019

4 Key Metrics to Track Your Graduate Program Marketing Efforts

Metrics for Graduate Program MarketingThe equation is simple:
Graduate Program Marketing = Solid Leads = Conversions and New Students!

It’s that easy right? Wrong. If you are relying solely on conversions to track the success of your marketing efforts, then your marketing plan is failing. The most proactive way to produce a string of leads and conversions is to measure their effectiveness and create quantifiable marketing analytics.

Where are my conversions?

Let’s give you an example. Your program executes a LinkedIn InMail campaign that aims to target a nice sized crowd. You send out a series of awareness InMails and then wait for conversions. After a week, you become frustrated when you don’t receive any conversions.  You begin to question your advertising investment.

Just because you’re not seeing conversions from your marketing efforts doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted. Quality leads need to be nurtured into converting. You must track all of the metrics in a campaign to highlight quality leads and to nurture them into conversions.

Lead Generation

Find out how well your lead generation efforts are working by tracking the number of new leads generated by each campaign. For the most accurate measurement of lead generation, we use GP Insights™. Some of the metrics we track are Performance Metrics, such as Click-Through Rate (CTR), Cost per Click (CPC), and Cost per Lead (CPL). We track by channel, impressions, audience demographics and geotracking.

Most Effective Channels and Mediums

Find out which platforms and mediums are most effective in attracting new student inquiries, including those most likely to convert. Be sure to look at channels like social, paid social, search, and paid search for a complete picture.

Spending Efficiency

To understand how efficiently you are investing your marketing budget, take the average cost of lead generation versus your average spend on marketing efforts per lead. Measure the effectiveness of your investment month over month and year over year. By consistently aiming to outdo prior performance, you’ll continuously improve your marketing efforts. Always take into account outside factors, such as enrollment dates, events, and the academic calendar.

Return on Investment (ROI)

A graduate program’s tuition costs are typically set every year, making it easier to determine the ROI needed from marketing. It’s important to take this into account when determining your spend and investment in each lead. You are not looking for hundreds of customers, there is a limit to how many students can attend – therefore it’s the quality of the lead that matters. How much money do you dedicate to each lead?

GP Insights

We report on our metrics with a laser-focus on results. We prove it in great detail through our proprietary campaign measurement and graduate industry benchmarking platform. GP Insights was custom built to not only track campaigns but also optimize results. Without that level of detail, we could not ensure campaign success.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Alicia Lyons | December 15th, 2018

3 Ways Consistent Marketing Can Save Your Graduate Program

Do you feel like you are constantly paying for digital marketing and garnering little results? Most programs are unsatisfied with their Return On Investment (ROI), but when they try to fix it, they don’t know where to start. What most programs don’t know is that it’s likely your marketing plan that’s to blame. But it isn’t the plan itself that’s the problem, it’s that you’re not following it consistently. The majority of marketing plans fail due to inconsistent posting, overextending platform use, and reactionary responses.

Stick to a Consistent Marketing Plan

At the beginning of each academic year (before the start of the semester) your team should create a marketing plan. The plan should be consistent and utilize a marketing and social media calendar. You should know what and when to post no later than a month in advance. Try to stay consistent.  This is key. Marketing efforts consisting of events, networking, newsletters, speaking engagements, and deadlines are considered targeted marketing and create a sense of immediacy that attracts leads and creates conversions. This doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to market them. As soon as an event is scheduled you should include it in your marketing plan.

Don’t Overextend Your Platform Use

Another trap most graduate programs fall into is overextending their platform use. Efforts pay-off when you use a level of constraint. It’s easy to want to post on all of the social media platforms. This heightens awareness, right? More platforms, more leads! If your marketing department cannot handle this workload or if you don’t have the content to support the plan this may end up hurting your program. Try to stick to one platform at a time and work your way up. Consider your audience personas and choose the platforms that best suit your prospective students. Also, remember these widely accepted rules:

Facebook = Awareness

LinkedIn = Connections

Twitter = Spreads the Word

Instagram = Is Hardly Ever For Over 25-Year-Olds

Don’t Fall into the Trap of Knee-Jerk Posting

The three pitfalls that can lead to reactionary posting are:

  • There are so many new inquiries, you no longer feel the need to market. A few weeks or months later, there is not a single prospective student in sight.
  • You are not receiving the ROI that you expected, so you utilize a knee-jerk response by randomly posting everywhere. Here, you lose the consistency that we spoke about before, and this leaves your audience confused or bombarded.
  • You didn’t plan accordingly for an upcoming event or deadline. At the last minute you post anywhere and everywhere to increase exposure.

Reactionary posting leads to marketing plans that are never executed. At the beginning of the year, you spent a great deal of time and effort formulating the perfect marketing plan. Why abandon it now?

Inconsistent marketing can confuse and frustrate your audience. It may leave them feeling unsettled and as a result they may find your program untrustworthy. A thoroughly planned and consistently executed marketing plan will result in more leads, more conversions, and more students.



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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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