The BGSU eCampus Masters of Criminal Justice program is ranked #12 in Ohio and 15th in the nation by the 2020 U.S. News and World Report. The program averaged 23 students per year between 2015 and 2020. As of August 2021, 15 students were enrolled for the year. While the decline could be attributed to a variety of factors, BGSU eCampus leadership wanted to be proactive with their marketing efforts in order to increase enrollment in this prestigious program.
Prior to working with Cooper-Smith Advertising, the BGSU eCampus team relied solely on paid search to promote their programs. While our media strategists understood the value of search as part of the mix, our recommendation was to include digital tactics to give their previous efforts a boost. This strategic mix of search and digital advertising, in combination with the right messaging, would reach a larger audience and drive traffic to the eCampus web page.
Cooper-Smith recommended a two-pronged strategy using Digital Display and Retargeting. With a $20K budget and limited creative asset availability, display ads were selected as the primary driver of media for this campaign. Display allows for multiple layers of targeting that align with the prospective audience for the Criminal Justice program. Specifically, those individuals that show an interest in higher education, online education, law & government, criminal law, etc. Additionally, display ads are generally the most efficient with CPMs, allowing for maximized messaging of ads for this program. Ads were targeted to Adults 25-49, who were currently employed in various fields of social work and law enforcement, within a 70-mile radius of BGSU.
For Retargeting, Cooper-Smith worked with the BGSU team to place a pixel on their website that tracked activity specific to the eCampus Masters of Criminal Justice program. Visitors to those pages, whether organic or driven by other tactics, would be retargeted with display ads throughout length of the campaign. Retargeted ads would be served nationally.
After some delays, the campaign was implemented on July 5, 2022 and ran through September 5. Prospecting (PT), Behavioral Targeting, Contextual Targeting (CT) and Custom Contextual Targeting (CCT) that focused on keywords related to grad school, master’s program, criminal justice, criminal law, online education, etc. were used as parameters to serve display ads to the target audience. The Retargeting campaign ran simultaneously with Digital Display advertising. Over 5 million impressions were served during this two-month campaign window, which achieved our goal to reach a larger audience.
The eCampus Masters of Criminal Justice website’s number of unique site visits increased by a whopping ten times year over year. By implementing new tactics beyond just paid search, there has been a remarkable 250% increase in organic traffic year over year. An integrated media strategy, including Display and Retargeting contributed to campaign success.
Display – Branding achieved CTR of 0.17% and Display – Retargeting achieved 0.22% CTR. Both exceeded the industry benchmark of 0.15%.
Consequently, the fall of 2022 saw an increase in applications for this degree program.
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