At the time of this post, the Caylor Solutions team and I are at the end of a traditional undergrad search campaign with an amazing client.
I’m proud to be working alongside our university client in this campaign, and I’m really proud of the work of the Caylor Solutions team.
In this post, I wanted to pull back the curtain, so to speak, by highlighting the leadership team after their stellar accomplishment on a huge, multifaceted project.
This post is about giving you crucial insights into the message creation behind the project so that when you dive into your own search campaign, you’ll be better prepared to get the best results possible.
What is a search campaign?
Let’s define our terms first.
If you have experience in digital marketing, you might be thinking that we’re talking about a search engine ad campaign.
But that’s not what I mean.
“Search campaign” is a historical industry term for a campaign using purchased lists.
That means you buy a list of prospective students’ names and contact information.
In this project, we purchased about 55,000 names.
In this roundtable discussion episode of The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, Troy Singer and I chat with the Caylor Solutions team – Matt Bloom, Content Director and Strategist; Jenni Roberts, Creative Director; and Jessi Robbins, Project Manager – about the inner workings of successful message creation.
The Discovery Phase of Message Creation
The very first step in message creation is the discovery phase.
Getting the best results from your search campaign requires a meaningful look at your institution’s values, goals, and differentiators.
Skipping this part of the process puts the whole search campaign at risk.
Jenni Roberts explains how we approach this crucial step.
One thing we have discovered over the years is to get started and really get to know our clients. This is really the fundamental and foundational aspect of how we do what we do. It always starts with getting to know our client with the discovery meeting.
In this instance, those discovery meetings kind of grew and grew because we wanted to ensure that we’re not reinventing [the brand]. We want to highlight the brand’s strengths and come alongside our clients for the ride, inviting them to celebrate their victories.
Then, we hone in on those victories to meet the communication goals.
Defining the Prospect’s Journey
Once we’ve spent time looking inward at the brand strengths and victories of the institution, it’s time to look outward to the prospects themselves.
Matt Bloom shares a helpful tool he uses to help get into the mind of the prospective student.
I tend to think of the prospect journey using the AIDA framework:
In some cases, it’s a little bit of an oversimplification. It’s not always a perfectly straight line the prospect goes through.
Oftentimes, you can attract them with some advertising or something that gets them into your communication flow. They might spend a whole lot of time bouncing back and forth between learning about your institution (that is the interest phase) and then building desire to take action. And then maybe something happens in their life, and they’re not quite ready yet, and then they’re bouncing back to the interest phase.
But basically, what we’re trying to do is move them systematically through these different stages.
From a content writing standpoint, that means you’re not going to talk to somebody who is just learning about your institution for the very first time the same way you’re talking with somebody who has already expressed interest.
You don’t treat somebody who has come to be a friend of yours the same way you would treat a stranger. The overall strategy is fairly straightforward but executing it and incorporating personalization into automation [can then become more complicated].
Creating Relationships through Automation
Some amazing things happen when you take the time to do the discovery phase and work through the AIDA framework.
First, the prospective student feels heard.
Secondly, they feel like the school knows them.
The research shows clearly that Generation Z especially wants to have that personal interaction.
They want to be known! They want to have their opinion heard.
When you’re talking to 55,000 people, that can be hard to do!
But through careful message creation, automation, and personalization, we can begin to create a genuine relationship with our prospective students even during a massive search campaign.
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 the Caylor Solutions team to get even more insights into:
- Focusing on client victories during the discovery phase
- The AIDA framework: attraction, interest, desire, action
- Creating uniform messaging that is also personal
- How automation is like a magic trick
- Our top takeaways after the execution of the project
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