Boston College Admissions Season: Marketing Report Card

As we near the end of Admissions season at BC on May 1st, our Office of University Communications has been looking back on a lot of our efforts and trying to evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what we still need to improve.

Successes

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For the first time at BC, we designed a main Welcome2022 landing page to which we could drive all of our marketing content.  Designed by our class speaker, Melissa Lesica Beecher, the site contained video content, profiles on students, links to financial aid and campus tour registration, a tagboard of Twitter posts from other Admitted Students, and even links to join the BC Admitted Student Facebook page.

We definitely saw the benefits of having such a page, especially given the capacity to install a Facebook pixel to track the user data and target ads toward that group.  More to come on that front below.

Another success was the two-pronged stragetic approach to video content, and our ability to tailor videos to each specific platform, which I referenced in my last “Making of Special Delivery” blog post.  We definitely hope to continue this “BC Branded” and “BC Creative” approach in coming years.

Additionally, BC became more digital than ever – de-emphasizing our print resources and starting to move more and more toward these digital web and social efforts, which will only continue to improve in years to come.

To be Improved

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For the first time, we also began a small Paid Facebook Pilot campaign, hoping to draw meaningful conclusions from the small amount of money we invested.  Overall, we found that organic reach and shares is still king on Facebook, but we are trying to learn more about specifically targeted ads and budgets, and we still need to answer many of the following questions:

  1. What kind of budgets should be allocated to paid Facebook Ads?  How much does dollar amounts invested tie to success of a campaign?  We need to understand how much money to invest in many different types of content – especially different types of video and  photo content – to achieve the outcomes we hope for.
  2. How can we measure these campaigns meaningfully?  With our goal being “yield,” not more applications, what should be the “Call to Action” components of the Facebook Ads, and can we actually link our marketing efforts to the Enroll Decision by the prospective students? What are the outcomes we should be measuring – conversions to websites, enrollments, time spent on the Admitted Student page?
  3. How can/should we use applicant information?  Today, we neither have access to/nor would we ever import a list of admit emails into Facebook, so given that limitation, how can we meaningfully target certain demographics of BC applicants and tailor content to their needs and interests?  We need to better optimize our Facebook pixels and use it to serve ads directly to prospective students who visit our landing page upon Admission.

Ideally, these specifically targeted “Yield Campaigns” would happen after we send out the Regular Decision letters and content, and in the weeks leading up to decision day on May 1st, we would be serving tailored content to our top admits.  For example, Nursing Students would receive links to our recent Nicaragua Service Immersion Documentary, or CSOM students might receive links to programs like TechTrek – content and offerings that could conceivably be a decision maker for prospective students.

Conclusion

Overall, we are excited by our huge digital strides this year.  With the addition of the landing page, our newly redesigned BC websites for each major school, and our video strategy, BC Digital Marketing has become far more “circular,” navigable, savvy, and purposeful.  With Paid Social becoming our major focus for Yield time next year, I am hopeful that our digital improvements will only continue year over year here at BC.

Having heard from Melissa and myself, experiencing this BC content as current students, and evaluating digital efforts throughout the semester in our class – how would you evaluate BC’s Admissions marketing efforts?  What are we doing well?  What could be improved?  What would you like to see more of?  Please comment below!

 

 

4 comments

  1. Jobabes121 · ·

    Great post! I think the Welcome2022 landing page was a superb idea. What you mentioned about the places of improvements are valid as well. I personally think that the videos (Agape Latte, or the Harry Potter video at Bapst) are the best ways to increase the number of organic reach more than anything else (which I know that you are a big part of and am very grateful for your time and amazing skills!). Not only do BC alum connect with the content, prospective students who use social media to check their admitted schools may find such videos not only entertaining but also indicative of BC’s school spirit. Instead of putting too much emphasis on paid marketing tactics, I believe such authentic and quality contents that you spent large time on will play a significant role in BC’s Admissions marketing efforts. Great work, John!

  2. kkim312 · ·

    This was a great closing post! I have to say the Boston College social media group was one of my favorite guest lectures. This outlines all of BC’s accomplishments within the digital space for the past school year really well! I think BC has done a great job on social media and engaging their audience. We have a great user-generated Instagram page and it is nice to hear a different voice on it compared to Facebook. I think BC does a great job of portraying on all platforms how much everyone loves BC and why it’s such a great place to be!

  3. Molly Pighini · ·

    As a grad student returning to BC and someone without social media of my own, I did not personally experience much BC content this year. After Melissa’s presentation and your blog post, however, I do believe the school is making great strides. The landing page, in particular, seems like a fantastic decision. During my own college decision process, I remember interacting with various school sites. Most were outdated, unclear, and fairly limited for those who had been admitted. The new site seems to provide clarity and ease, bringing those admitted into focus and making them feel valued. I agree with the idea of limited paid ads initially until their value and strategy are cemented. There is no reason to throw money at something without direction. Lastly, I think your ideas about how to improve yield are spot on. Targeting admitted students during the decision making time with content aligned to their needs/interests is a great way to reach them. If BC is showing a prospective Nursing student information about an opportunity for them (i.e., the Nicaragua Service Immersion trip) while Northeastern is sending standard content related to extra-circulars, the student may be swayed toward the school who picked them out of the crowd.

  4. mpduplesmba · ·

    I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look into the BC Communications Group that you provided in your blog posts throughout the semester. Talking about social media and marketing campaigns is easy, but as you point out with the many questions in this post, putting it into practice is another story. During Melissa’s presentation I was thinking about how difficult it must be to measure success of a campaign. It’s even difficult for companies who can tie campaigns to sales. It will take some time and trial-and-error, but I’m sure your group will find a metric that works for your needs.

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