February 3

Big Data: How Higher Ed Marketers Can Use It!


Knowledge is power. Big data can give your marketing the edge you need to reach the right prospective students.

There are thousands of marketers across a variety of industries that are leveraging big data to promote products and services, almost in real-time.

But in higher ed marketing circles, many marketers are still wary of it.

In many cases, a knowledge gap exists—they simply don’t know how it works.

For some, questions on how big data is collected to the legalities and ethics surrounding it hold them back.

That’s why in this episode of The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, we talk with Roosevelt Smith, Principal CEO/Executive Chairman at Ewebdata.com.

Together, we explore the in’s and out’s of using big data to see if and how higher ed marketers can leverage this powerful tool.

What is big data?

Let’s start with the obvious question. Roosevelt breaks it down like this:

“Big data” is an aggregation of a lot of data, a lot of information that is utilized every day through marketing channels for everything from real estate to e-commerce to automotive dealerships. Big data is used every day. 

As higher ed marketers, is big data available for the target audiences that we are trying to cultivate?

There’s so much data available on every user, every consumer. 

And it’s not an anonymous value. It’s more of an opportunity for individuals and marketers to be able to promote services or products that are in line with the interest level of that particular prospect.

Even higher ed marketers can leverage data analytics and web traffic information to craft messaging that better fits the interest level of prospective students and their families.

The level of personalization available to you as a marketer through big data is amazing.

As Roosevelt says, it’s not “an anonymous value” like when you’re working on a search campaign.

It’s much more robust information so you can get to know your target audience better.

How Does Data Capture Work?

Recently my family moved. About the same time, we cut the cord on cable and instead use all of our streaming devices.

It was fascinating to me when we moved and we were watching something on Sling or on Hulu that the ads that were getting served up were things about gutters, roofs, and a lot of home stuff.

There were also some ads for retired physicians and others for parents of teenagers.

It began to dawn on me.

I had an older house. The gutters would need to be replaced. Soon, we’d have to do some roofing.

My wife’s a retired physician, and we were parents of teenagers.

These ads were based on who we are.

They know who we are, and they’re serving these ads up based on that.

Ads in the past were much less interesting to me as a person.

If I were watching a Colts game, I’d see random ads about things I didn’t care about or need at the time.

But now, every ad was something that I needed or wanted.

With big data, these ads were a lot more specialized to what was going on in my life at that time.

They didn’t feel like an intrusion.

Instead, they felt serendipitous. The information about stuff I needed was coming right on time.

How did the advertisers know who I am?

In the podcast, we reveal a lot of the technical details about how this works.

At the basic level, companies are able to track where I’ve been on the Internet using pixel technology and cookies (which may be going away).

If they know where I’ve been on the Internet, they have an idea of what I’m interested in.

Why You Should Use Big Data

First of all, big data is a part of our everyday lives.

Whether we like it or not, it’s here, and it’s not going away.

We live in the Information Age, and data capturing methods and analytical technologies continue to grow.

With other industries, like gutters and roofs, we don’t seem to mind that our Internet habits are being captured and analyzed.

In fact, we actually like it!

That’s how we get advertisements that are not interruptions to our lives.

While using big data might feel invasive sometimes, it is a reality that we all enjoy.

Truth is, when you use big data, you can create messaging that is much less invasive.

Big data gives you actionable insights.

With data analytics, you can know who’s coming to your website, capture that data, and then be able to turn that data into actionable items.

For example, you can harvest contact information so that you can reach out to prospects who’ve been visiting your digital spaces.

Again, it’s the right information that they’re already looking for coming right on time.

Big data gives you business intelligence that you need for graduate enrollment marketing.

With traditional undergrad, there have been years and years of buying lists for search campaigns.

In these search campaigns, we’ll go to the SAT or ACT scores and purchase the information on the students taking those tests.

We buy their names, and then we’ll market to them based on their demographic information.

For traditional undergrad marketing, you’re probably already buying data analytics.

But what about adult and graduate programs? Where do you go to buy your info for those campaigns?

There are a lot more students in the graduate and online space than there are in traditional undergrad.

But they’re not taking tests. Which means, we can’t buy lists, necessarily.

So we’ve got to come up with other ways to generate leads.

And now that test-optional enrollment is getting way more popular, what will you do when you don’t have the information to buy from the SAT and ACT scores?

The largest part of higher ed marketing is in adult and graduate studies.

Big data is a big part of the solution.

Discover more when you listen to the podcast!

Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.

Listen to our interview with Roosevelt Smith to get even more insights into:

  • Why big data is relevant to higher ed markets
  • How smart pixel technology factors into capturing big data
  • Why how you use the data matters

Don’t want to miss a future episode?

Subscribe to The Higher Ed Marketer podcast today!

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