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Effective Facebook Ad Strategies to Attract Higher Education Enrollment

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Higher education marketing comes with many difficulties and challenges, primarily due to the consistent decline in college enrollment over the last ten years. Many experts predict that decline will continue for several more years before we experience an upward trend.

Competition is one of the reasons, with consumers having several options to choose from, including more low-cost local options as well as multiple online educational offerings. Educational institutions must now cater their marketing the same way a consumer brand does – with a focus on customer service. The narrative of the marketing message also needs to be changed for it to be effective in the current marketplace.

With colleges and universities having to invest a much higher percentage of their revenue into their marketing activities, it’s crucial to maximize each channel’s ROI. Educational marketing strategies that are measurable, scalable, and deliver results have the most potential. Facebook ads check off all those boxes.

Social media marketing, and Facebook ads specifically, need to be a part of every educational institution’s marketing strategy. To help your institution achieve the best possible results, consider these educational Facebook ads best practices.

Optimize Your Educational Facebook Ads for Mobile Users

Approximately 9 out of 10 Facebook users interact with the platform on a mobile device, and that is higher for users in the age demographic of those interested in pursuing higher education. Your campaigns need to be optimized for mobile users – and take full advantage of the mobile location data available.

Facebook’s targeting options are superior to any other platform, enabling you to set a geofence to target users within a certain proximity to your college or university. The targeting is based on the location data of the mobile device – not the user’s profile location.

If someone is interested in pursuing higher education and taking classes, they are more likely to bite on an offer from a school that is close to them. Targeting too wide of an audience will result in a much lower conversion rate.

Facebook users on mobile are typically moving at a fast rate, scrolling through their feed looking for posts to engage with. Visual content works very well to stop users from scrolling – even just for a quick second.

Using the Carousel format, you can include multiple images in one ad, which can be used to highlight multiple aspects and benefits of your educational program and offer. You can also leverage this to highlight several different programs or areas of study – this allows you to deploy a much wider net and appeal to a larger percentage of your target audience.

Market to the Correct Audience Using Interest-Based User Targeting

Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to target users based on their general interests, what they are likely interested in, their location, as well as their education. That last one is very important.

If you are running a campaign to drive awareness for some undergrad programs, then you wouldn’t want to target users who have already completed their undergraduate curriculum. This can help you get the most high-quality exposure for your ads. Reach alone isn’t a strong metric, as being seen by users with no interest in higher education programs won’t help enrollment.

You can also use interests to location users who have an interest in other local institutions. If someone doesn’t have an undergrad degree, yet follows some local schools, it’s a good indication that they may be looking into current offerings and the options available.

There isn’t a cookie-cutter playbook when it comes to creating Facebook ad campaigns for an educational institution. You often have to think outside the box and get creative to target the correct audience.

Generate Education Leads Using a Facebook Messenger Bot

Consumers have zero patience these days and demand answers to their questions immediately. You can use a Facebook Messenger bot to answer typical questions 24/7, turning it into a lead generation tool that never needs to take a day off.

Facebook Messenger has become one of the most widely used communication channels among Gen Z, making it a great tool to pair with your Facebook ads strategy. There are many ways to integrate a bot, but one of the most effective is running a questionnaire to determine how serious a potential student is about pursuing higher education.

A successful Facebook Messenger bot campaign will push those users that engage throughout the automated sequence to a registration and application page. When done correctly you not only increase your application submissions, but you also generate more warm leads that can then be further remarketed down the line.

So, in this situation, even a “non-application” action still creates a lead – it’s a win/win situation and overall it drives down the cost-per-application. It can be tricky to set up the bot and align it with the campaign, which is a great example of why so many educational institutions partner with Facebook ad agencies to handle that aspect of their marketing effort.

Use Lookalike Audiences to Reach New Prospects

Do you know what audience is the best performing in terms of conversions for most brands and businesses that advertise on Facebook? If you guessed Lookalike Audiences, then you are correct. They consistently outperform all others.

So, why are they so good?

Lookalike Audiences include users that are identical to your target customer, yet have never interacted with your institution. So, even though they aren’t familiar with your school yet, they have interests and traits very similar to users you are currently targeting and finding success in doing so.

Running ads against Lookalike Audiences that are designed specifically to introduce them to your school and its programs and offers is a great first interaction. After that first interaction, they can then be remarketed to, along with all of your other audiences.

It’s an effective way to push more prospects into that next stage of your Facebook ads funnel. Here you can offer free online programs and offers, as well as other programs and specials to help them become more familiar with your school.

ROI on Lookalike Audience campaigns tends to be higher due to the targeting – you are marketing to interest groups based on what has proven to be successful in the past. It’s as calculated as you can be in terms of marketing to “cold” users.

One mistake many first-time advertisers make is creating a large Lookalike Audience. It’s better to create smaller audiences, using as many interest-based targeting options as possible.

Use Valuable Education Resources in Your Facebook Ads to Attract Leads

When marketing a college or university online there aren’t any gimmicks that will outperform credibility. It’s what most would-be students look for and base their final decision on. If they are going to invest in their education it’s going to be with the institution they believe has the most to offer and what school’s degree will give them the most credibility after completion of the program.

When you are thinking of what kind of offer to use as a lead magnet, always focus on showcasing the credibility of your institution. Highlight awards and achievements in your ad copy, as this can instill the confidence needed for the individual to opt-in or claim an offer you are promoting.

Consider using an irresistible offer like a free mini-course or a free online course to get the prospect into your database. The average person isn’t going to be ready to fully commit to full tuition – most simply aren’t in a financial position to do so.

Giving them a taste of what they can expect for free is a great way to build trust, highlight your credibility first-hand, and get them to convert to full-time enrollment down the line.

Final Thoughts

While online marketing and running Facebook ad campaigns may be somewhat new to many education marketing departments, there is help available, and hopefully the information shared above will help you reach your goals.

If you have specific questions about Facebook ads, campaign setup, and management, or tracking and analysis, feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to help you navigate through the waters, as we know the educational space requires a very specific approach to achieve the desired results.

As a leading education marketing company, we have a team of Facebook ads experts that can handle campaign setup and management, helping your institution reach its enrollment goals. To learn more about our full-service Facebook ads management contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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