Effective Online Marketing Strategies for Distance Education Programs & Courses

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1 Effective Online Marketing Strategies for Distance Education Programs & Courses Presented by Jeff Harmon Director of Marketing University of Illinois Online

2 What Is Marketing? American Marketing Association (AMA)Definition: ʺMarketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals.ʺ

3 What Is Marketing In Higher Education? Making it easy for prospective students to find your program(s) and the information they need to make an informed decision.

4 Internal Marketing Focus on academic and admin groups and departments Admissions Registration Course Catalog Student Services Student Newspaper Student Boards Cards in Library Student Newspaper

5 External Marketing High School Students (pdf s to admin) Alumni (your institution and others) Adult Learner regional/national business & corp relations/hr Newspapers (including other institutional student papers) Search Engines Educational Portals Banner Newsletters Opt In

6 Marketing is part of product development as well as the sales phase. Market analysis should be done prior to course or program development if possible. Great tools you may have online or in your own library RDS Tablebase LexisNexis Statistical Universe

7 Where are the distance ed students? Most prospective students have internet access Most prospective students are searching for educational programs online using websites such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.

8 Elements of a Strategic Marketing Plan Defined Situational Analysis Market Summary Demographics & Trends Target Market(s) Market Needs S.W.O.T Analysis Competition Keys To Success Marketing Opportunities Marketing Strategy

9 Situational Analysis What are you doing currently? Explain program and rationale for launching. Market Summary How big is the market in dollars? How many potential customers and competitors do you have? How are the competitors doing?

10 Demographics & Trends Details about your potential students such as their geographic location, income, age, type of internet access, work environment, associations they belong to, etc. Target Market(s) Define where your program fits in the educational landscape. Your target market is based upon the demographic information obtained. Market Needs Is there a niche or unfulfilled need your program can capitalize on?

11 S.W.O.T Analysis Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats Competition Research and understand offerings by all perceived competition.

12 Keys To Success 3 10 important facts that you feel are crucial to the success of your program. Marketing Opportunities The longest and most detailed section of your plan. Includes description of all marketing opportunities. A must for solid decision making present and future. Estimated cost benefit analysis should be included.

13 Marketing Strategy Your marketing map and driving directions. Details regarding what marketing opportunities you will implement, when and why. This section should include your marketing budget with planned expenditures.

14 Marketing Opportunities Online for Education Website Design Search Engines and Directories Pay per Click (search engines) Online Educational Portals PR Activities Opt In E Mail Online Newspapers Online Magazines and Journals Banners, Pop Up Ads and Pop Under Ads

15 Redesign Your Website Why? Fresh look gives you credibility Fresh content improves your search engine rankings Make important information easy to find Include student profiles both current and alumni across applicable industries. Include cost and contact information Include FAQ that will discuss the term online degree.

16 Search Engine and Directory Marketing Optimizing Meta Data Matching Content to Meta Data Submitting Your Site For Free Paid Submissions Understanding Pay per Click and Sponsored Listings Tracking your website traffic with software such as WebTrends (www.netiq.com) Tracking your search engine rankings with software such as Web Position Gold (www.netiq.com)

17 How do the search engines rank your site? They look at the following Website content Meta tags The number of quality sites that link to your site

18 Who Powers Whom? Engine Google Yahoo MSN AOL Powered by: Google (main & paid) Yahoo (main) & Overture (paid) Yahoo (main) & Overture (paid) Google (main & paid)

19 Search Marketshare

20 Search Marketshare Continuned

21 What does this mean? Google and Yahoo are all we need to care about! Approximately 95% of all search results are powered by Google and Yahoo

22 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Optimizing Meta Data Look at the title tag, keywords tag and description tag Using IE, click on View then Source to see meta data. Examplehttp://www.online.uillinois.edu

23 <title>online Degrees and Online Courses from The University of Illinois</title> <meta name=ʺkeywordsʺ content=ʺonline degrees, online courses, online education, online, degrees, education, university, classes, bachelors, masters, certificates, program, college, course, degreeʺ> <meta name=ʺdescriptionʺ content=ʺuniversity of Illinois online degrees, online courses and certificate programs.ʺ>

24 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Content is also important choose one or two phrases to optimize for. If your key phrase is online degrees, it must be present in Title tag Keywords tag (Google does not consider keywords) Your page content 3 to??? times Alt image tags (integrate key words with proper ADA description if possible)

25 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Resources for Search Engine Optimization Overture Search Word Popularity & View Bids Tool it.com

26 Review Search Term Worksheets

27 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Paid Inclusion Options Google Adwords (right side of results) Example provided at end of presentation. Bid for key words/phrases. Bid price is per click. Google Sponsored Listings (top of results) $5K minimum per month MSN Featured Sites (top of results) $25K 100K commitment MSN Sponsored Sites (below featured sites and also at the right side of results) powered by Overture Yahoo East Modular Advertisements (right side of results) Min 3 5K per month. Yahoo Sponsored Listings (top of results) powered by Overture

28 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Other Paid Inclusion Options Yahoo Directory submission supplements search results for Yahoo and MSN and may even help you in Google. Inktomi (www.inktomi.com) Has been purchased by Yahoo. Can submit via Inktomi and also purchase ads that display on right side of various sites such as Lycos. Looksmart (www.looksmart.com) Powers MSN main search results but not for long. Will continue to work with Lycos, About.com RoadRunner, Cox, Mamma.com, CNET and InfoSpace. Pricing varies from $10/month to unlimited. Also has a free nonprofit submission service

29 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Other Paid Inclusion Options Overture Content Match recently acquired by Yahoo Powers sponsored sites results that display at the top of the search results for MSN, Yahoo, Lycos, AltaVista and InfoSpace. Great way to be found on MSN and Yahoo but can be expensive. Must monitor your bid per click price in order not to overpay. Consider Overture SiteMatch always $.15 per click. Try with a special url to see if it is really helping. It may increase overall presence in Yahoo.

30 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Analyzing a Paid Inclusion Opportunity Look at your website statistics and inquiries generated How many unique visitors and actual inquiries per month does your site receive? Compute the number of visitors you need to generated one inquiry Multiply that number by the cost of one click from a Google Ad or Overture/MSN Sponsored site campaign.

31 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Analyzing a Paid Inclusion Opportunity U of I Online Numbers Phrase online degree Top three placement on MSN minimum bid is $4.41 per click. U of I Online needs 138 clicks to generate one actual inquiry Cost per inquiry from MSN would be $4.41 X 138 = $608.58


33 Search Engine and Directory Marketing (continued) Search Engine Priorities Meta tag update Content update Submit for free to be spidered by Google Submit to the Yahoo Directory Submit to the Open Directory (www.dmoz.org) Consider submitting your site via it.com, and Wait 1 2 weeks and test your results, then simply update meta tags and content if necessary. No need to resubmit.

34 Search Engine Priorities After best free results have been obtained consider Google AdWords Overture Content Match and Site Match Looksmart sponsored listings

35 Online Educational Portals Many to choose from, but only a few are good More cost effective than most paid inclusion options Interested prospective students give detailed demographic information which will help you understand your market Some have very strong partnerships with the major search engines and portals such as MSN and Yahoo

36 Online Educational Portals (continued) ClassesUSA.com (pay per lead) WorldWideLearn.com (pay per lead) GetEducated.com (annual listing) elearners.com (pay per lead) UniversityAlliance.com (joint development/delivery of courses) Petersons.com (annual listings and $50K partnerships) PrincetonReview.com (annual listings and partnerships) Ed X.com (annual listings) Degrees Online.com (free nonprofit site that is great) BacktoCollege.com (pay per lead) Careerbuilder.com (powered by CE technologies) Military.com (free, annual listings, sponsorships and pay per lead)

37 Online Educational Portals (continued) Evaluating Pay Per Lead Opportunities Ask the portal how they market their website. Search engines, partnerships with other sites (MSN, Yahoo)? Search for key phrases important to you and see if their sites are included in the results. Negotiate. These portals need your business.

38 Online Educational Portals (continued) Evaluating Pay Per Lead Opportunities My favorites ClassesUSA.com ($20 per lead) WorldWideLearn ($15 per lead) elearners (offers nice enrollment tools) All Star Directories Compare cost to pay per click advertising Basically $20 per high quality inquiry versus.. $ per inquiry from your website


40 PR Activities Start a relationship with your campus news bureau Know your target market and national news contacts Don t be afraid to send releases Faculty achievements New courses or programs

41 Opt In Best is sent via Societies and Associations Can use list brokers such as PostermasterDirect.com.5% to 3% click thorough rate ALWAYS consider importance of subject line ALWAYS place links in the first few lines of the

42 Online Newspapers Some have good programs including newsletter sponsorships and affordable banner campaigns Chicago Tribune (example) may offer home page banner & AdMail (opt in newsletter subscribers) Depends on program or course type Can target by zip and many other demographics Remember If your course or program is fully online, your market is probably national.

43 Banners, Pop Ups, Pop Unders Banners are least expensive of the three. Not real effective overall unless you have big budget Pop ups and Pop Under campaigns typically start at $25K per month. All three are popular with for profit institutions

44 Online Program Marketing Plan Outline Verify that your web server has website traffic analysis software installed. If not, get WebTrends. Purchase software that will make it easy to track search engine performance such as Web Position Gold Use Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool Update meta tags to reflect popular terms relevant to your program Update content to include the phrase(s) Submit your main url to Google for free Submit your main url to Yahoo and Open Directory Consider Overture Site Match Consider Google Adwords and Overture Content Match Consider program specific options such as society and association newsletter sponsorships and banners. Analyze, Modify and Improve!

45 Google AdWords Example

46 Thank You! Questions and Discussion