Home » Blog » Segmenting & Targeting New Students Online

Segmenting & Targeting New Students Online




Digital advertising has two widely known advantages over traditional marketing. While the tracking capabilities improve ROI measurement, the ability to target a very specific audience who is highly interested in your programs is also crucial. Hone your marketing in on a group who is looking for your courses, and serve them ads in the places on the web where they spend their time.


Who Isn’t Your Student?

Before we walk about how to target a potential student, we need to address the elephant in the online world. Out of the thousands of people who would love to attend your university, there are likely hundreds of thousands who would not. Understanding who will not become one of your students and filtering them out of your campaigns is just as crucial as identifying those who may become a student. The following groups are key to consider:

  • Existing Students – Ensure that you are filtering out those who have completed a program application and/or course registration, unless you are promoting a secondary program which can be done concurrently.
  • Students at Other Universities – In most cases, your university is unlikely to achieve a profitable ROI by convincing students of other schools to migrate to yours. This is specifically apparent in specialty programs where other universities may be the bigger fish in the pond.
  • Degree Holders – If someone already has a degree in a specific field, they will most likely only be looking for higher level programs.
  • Admission Requirements – Certain aspects of your admission requirements, such as having finished high school and speaking a certain language, are easy to filter in or out of campaigns on many platforms.


Who Is Your Student?

Defining your target market is crucial to receiving the best return-on-your-investment possible. Understanding who your typical student is and committing your marketing efforts to them as an audience is key to your success. Keep in mind that depending on your program and campaign goals, how tightly you define your targeting may change. For example:

  • A campaign aimed at encouraging young adults with an interest in technology to attend your weekend computer science course may be fairly loosely defined.
  • In comparison, a campaign aimed at promoting your Masters of Psychology program would be precisely targeted to recent grads of undergraduate programs or those who are nearing completion.

When deciding your target market, try to define all points in a language which translates to targeting options available in digital marketing platforms. These include:

  • Demographics, such as age and gender.
  • Location and language.
  • Psychographics, such as interest groups.
  • Education and employment history.


Where is Your Student Online?

Every single person engages with the web in a unique way. But, once you understand who your student is (and who they are not), you can begin to understand where to appropriately target them across the web. For the purpose of digital marketing, there are two typical methods of targeting available:

  • By the Placement – What pages and websites will your potential student browse?
  • By the Audience – Target your potential student, regardless of where they are on the web.

In a nutshell  – we recommend targeting by the audience 99% of the time. Why? When targeting by the placement, you will be reaching a huge volume of people who have no interest in your program. After all, just because someone is reading a Forbes article on finance does not indicate definitively they would like to acquire a BBA. However, a student who has an interest in BBA program will still be attracted to your ad, even if they are on the weather network’s website.

When designing campaigns, bear in mind the ability of certain platforms to reach and target specific audiences. It’s no secret that Facebook knows a great deal about their users, the wealth of data available enables you to reach a very specific audience. However, the search results are a great place to advertise to people while they are researching programs to register for. Different platforms, for different reasons.


Enrolling Students in a Barrel

With targeting and segmentation knowledge in hand, your institution is ready to take their digital marketing to the next level. By understanding who your potential students are and who they are not, you can reach only people who have an interest in attending your school. Then, by targeting them wherever they may be online, you can cut through the clutter and keep your school’s brand top-of-mind when they decide to place applications.

Want to talk segmentation strategy? Book a free consultation today!