Rising Above the Noise in the Education Space
09 March 2015
→ Rebecca Ryan, Digital Program Manager, MDR
Educators are like everyone else: every day they are getting deluged with emails—from The Gap, from Scholastic, from their cousin—and marketing campaigns relying on email alone are having trouble rising above the background noise. Educators are also similar to other consumers in their increasing use of digital and social media as an alternative to email. According to The Radicati Group’s 2014 Email Statistic Report, by 2018, business email will account for over 139.4 billion emails sent and received per day. At the same time, consumer email traffic is slowing down. Consumers on average are sending and receiving fewer emails and are opting instead for other forms of communication, such as social networking sites. So the digital communication world is shifting—and marketers need to shift with it!
The Five “Rs”
There’s a mantra in marketing: reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. Today, we need to add two other “Rs”: in the right places and repeatedly. If you asked someone “where do you go to get an online degree?”, they will have one school in mind. That’s not because that is necessarily the best or only school offering online degrees, but because that brand came out everywhere, loudly and repeatedly, to create that association in our minds. In a noisy marketing world, speaking to your audience in the right places and repeatedly needs to be part of a new marketing mantra.
While we are in a time when marketers can’t rely on email alone to drive results and create associations, email will always be the foundation of any digital campaign. You can do more with email than you can with banner ads or in the 140 characters of a tweet—especially when 60 of those characters have to be allocated for non-messaging content. That is why integrated marketing is the right approach for this fragmented marketplace and for capturing educator’s distracted attention. Integrated, cross-channel campaigns are how marketers are achieving all five “Rs.”
Amplifier: MDR’s Digital Marketing Loudspeaker
MDR created the Amplifier program as a way for our clients to take advantage of the reach and engagement of digital channels without having to become a digital media expert overnight or having to make a big investment to test out an integrated program. With Amplifier, we have shown that we can lift the results of email campaigns by amplifying and repeating a client’s message across web ads, Facebook, Twitter, and through WeAreTeachers, our educator social community of over 500,000 fans and followers. Even better, we have been able to target the same contacts across all of these mediums.
The advantage of this kind of integrated, repetitive messaging is that even if the educator doesn’t open the initial email, two weeks later they’re looking at ESPN and they see your ad again, and they may see it again later on Facebook or Twitter, etc. Human minds are designed to see patterns and make associations. That’s what makes this kind of repetitive messaging across multiple venues so effective. It stands out!
MDR is uniquely qualified to act as an advisor to our clients on how, when, and where to reach educators, and we have extended that deep understanding to the digital realm. We know that 50% of teachers are using social media in some way, with “exchanging ideas” with peers as a top activity. We know educators use Twitter for professional conversations and that it is a particularly good platform to reach district-level educators and education IT professionals. We know how and why teachers are creating Pinterest boards. These insights allow us to make informed recommendations to clients on how and where to amplify an email campaign to lift results and increase engagement.
Amplifier in Action
Amplifier is designed to work on a campaign basis. Any of the components of Amplifier (Web ads, Facebook, Twitter, or WeAreTeachers) might be used, individually or together, in support of a year-long branding effort, but our Amplifier product is best suited for a focused, specific-message campaign. Our client’s experience with Amplifier thus far has proven the concept. Although each Amplifier project is unique enough to defy an apples-to-apples comparison, we can report that for MDR clients as a whole, on web ads our client’s average click-through rate is.16%. On a Facebook social push through WeAreTeachers, our clients have seen click-through rates ranging from.5% all the way up to 1.6% and engagement rates at 8% to 10%. On Twitter, we can report a 4.5% engagement rate and a 1.2% click-through rate. These are impressive numbers alone; when combined in an integrated campaign, we can confidently state to our Amplifier clients that they will see lift.
A Different Take on Measurement
When you’re doing a digital marketing campaign, you’re not necessarily going to know for a fact that every single conversion came from the campaign. This type of digital marketing is more akin to planting seeds for eventual harvest. With our clients, we set the expectation that repetition and being where your audience spends their time online creates the opportunity so that when your prospects are ready to apply to that graduate program, or when that student needs a scholarship to art school, they remember you. And that’s what Amplifier is about: capturing not just the responsive, ready-to-buy prospects who will click-through on your initial email but planting the seed to harvest those people who were too busy or not ready to buy at the time.
Why Amplifier? Why Now?
Amplifier is a product of the moment. It came out of conversations with our clients about the results they were seeing, or not seeing any longer, from email; the fact that mobile is becoming one of the primary ways people engage with online content; the social media habits of the younger generation; and the availability of all these digital and social channels. They all pointed to the same conclusion: marketers need to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time and in the right places—and repeatedly to make an impact in the noisy education space!
Rebecca Ryan brings nearly 20 years in the digital marketing space to her work as the Amplifier and Web Ads product manager for MDR. Rebecca focuses on the ever-changing world of digital advertising opportunities, including Facebook, Twitter, and other social media advertising platforms. Before joining MDR, she specialized in managing education marketing programs and producing interactive campaigns for Fortune 100 companies.