Marketing of any kind can be just as much art as science. While there are certain practices that often lead to effective marketing results (e.g. tailored audiences, prominent calls-to-action, etc.) the mantra of “one size fits all” rarely works for any industry — particularly as it relates to enrollment management marketing in higher education.
When you run marketing campaigns is just as important as why. Many marketers lean on the notion that campaigns should run for as long as their budget allows — known commonly as Evergreen Campaigns. However, running campaigns during specific time blocks (Flights) allows marketers to efficiently utilize their budgets as best suited for that program.
Below are the Top Three Pros to using Flights vs. Evergreen Campaigns:
1. Better Qualified Leads
Higher Education marketing comes with many obstacles like audience responsiveness, competitor offers, and namely the timeframe of available courses for a particular program. For example, JMH works with a client that offers an Autism Spectrum Certificate that is only offered once per calendar year (during the Fall term). Because this program is offered so sparingly, running the online campaigns only during the 6 months leading up to the program yields “hotter” leads who are more likely to enroll in the program.
2. Better Use of Budget
Using the aforementioned program to further illustrate this point, a flight-based approach also works well for programs with smaller budgets. The Autism Spectrum Program not only faces the challenge of limited program offerings, but is also coupled with a small marketing budget. Rather than blowing through budget money for the sake of increasing lead volume, we strategically use the budget at pivotal times during the year to ensure successful campaigns.
3. Seasonal Messaging
Running a campaign in flights allows marketers to tailor the language on their landing pages to specifically suit the audience at that time. This was a methodology we employed for a client offering a Master’s degree in Elementary STEM Education. We decided to run flights during their Summer and Winter breaks that spoke to career advancement during their off time. Conversions Rates on landing pages spiked from 1% to 7% because of the seasonally tailored language.
While Flights provide a measurable benefit for many clients, there are cases where they are not as effective. Below are the Top 3 Cons to employing a Flight approach:
1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Using a client’s marketing budget wisely should always be a marketer’s top priority. However, shutting down campaigns ultimately results in decreased visibility and keeps a program from remaining at the front of mind for potential prospects.
2. More Nuanced Campaign Management
As if the demands for campaign oversight were not already high, using a flight-based approach requires marketers to more frequently implement new techniques and language in ads and landing pages that wouldn’t be necessary for an Evergreen campaign. In addition, flights require meticulous management in scheduling when campaign should be turned on and shut off.
3. Best Suited for Certain Platforms
While it may be tempting to use a flight approach for every platform, there are cases where one should run ads continuously (if a client’s budget allows). Paid Search is a prime example. Staying visible on search engines is always a good idea since you can’t control when prospects might be searching for your programs. However, this requires maintenance of two campaigns (Evergreen and Flight-based) which speaks to the aforementioned point of more nuanced campaign management.
Overall, marketers should always assess the services they offer before jumping towards any particular technique. However, if given the option to use Flight Campaigns (particularly as they relate to clients with smaller budgets and fewer program offerings), the pros far outweigh the cons and often come with a greater return on investment. There are few better gauges of effectiveness than campaign results – and from the higher conversion rates and lower costs per lead that come with seasonal messaging, flight-based campaign literally pay in the end.