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Recruiting International Students

According to the Institute of International Education, more than one million college students studying in the U.S. are international students, and 47% of those are from China or India. Due to limited funding, more than half of these students elect not to make a campus visit before starting classes. The US has always been the destination of choice for international students, making your digital marketing strategy around an international audience even more necessary.

We’ve outlined some strategies below to help universities marketing to prospective international students:


If you were an international student, how would you go about searching for universities in the United States? You would probably search for something like: “programs for international students in the United States” or other similar phrases. Having your university’s web page appear on the first page of that search’s results will enable you to be visible to international students. If you are a very small university it may be hard to compete with larger ones through organic search results, which is where paid search can help. 

Digital Content

Digital content is all about knowing who your audience is and writing for them. Use relevant and useful content to attract prospective international students, like rates specific to international students, as well as information, and answers to frequently asked questions to help make their decision easier. By providing as much relevant information as possible, you will be a step forward ahead of your competition. Remember, your content strategy will elevate your SEO rankings, too.


study by showed that international students use their mobile device to visit websites, download university apps, take a virtual campus tour, and view university social media. Having a mobile-friendly website that is engaging and has a fast response rate will allow you to make a good impression on international students. But before you have prospective international students looking at your website university, you need to get noticed. Mobile marketing will allow you to reach the audience you have intended while getting your university’s name out there for prospective international students to notice and research.

Social Media and Other Grassroots Strategies

International students want to communicate with admissions counselors, international services, and students during the admissions process.

  • Use your international alumni to intrigue prospective international students. Create testimonials that you can quote and refer to on your social media accounts. You can also use your international alumni to create a page on LinkedIn. Invite current and former international students to join the page so that perspectives can view it and find someone to connect with that went to college abroad and can give them valuable advice.
  • Use your social media account to promote materials that are important to international students. You can promote materials about the number of international students there are on campus if they are relatively high, or you can promote materials about clubs/organizations that are on campus to help international students feel acclimated on campus.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Using Instagram is second nature for current teens which is why utilizing your university’s Instagram and advertising on the platform will help increase your university’s brand presence with international students. Posting pictures of campus and students will give international students a feel for campus life without physically being there. Keep in mind that generic photos of campus are no good, make sure the pictures capture candid moments.

How Do You Engage Students Who Don’t Always Apply During the Traditional Periods?

With factors like value, influencers, available information, and well-timed communications, any university can make an impact at the end of the decision-making journey. For higher education marketers, this means that the last few weeks before deadlines are a critical time that some universities may be missing out on.

Read more about the last-minute student recruitment measures, outlined by our friends at Advance Ohio.

Accelerate Intent for Prospective Students

Imagine the Admissions Department of a four year college that can name their desired admissions yield.

Picture an online MBA course that fills to the desired capacity, semester after semester. Envision an ongoing education department that attracts business leaders and keeps them in the pipeline long enough to engage them in returning to school an finishing their degree. With Intent Acceleration, these become reality for the Education industry.

Intent Acceleration is the process of guiding your audience from initial awareness to decision with speed and accuracy.

It’s the process we deploy, the art of combining relevant media, marketing and financial principles to create the most effective and cost-efficient solutions for your marketing team and stakeholders. We integrate science by conducting extensive audience exploration across multiple media and data sources to know your audience from an emotional and logical perspective.

Intent Acceleration blends compelling content, creative design and 360 degree media exposure with effective frequency to influence decision.

 This effort:

  • Pinpoints a consumers exact location within the decision journey
  • Serves the precise creative message at the appropriate time
  • Delivers the optimal call to action to advance the consumer in their journey
  • Clearly convinces consumers to take action in their decision
  • Functions progressively (iterates to adjust) in an ever forward fashion

Reducing the Cost Per Acquisition in the Education Space

In 2015, private four year institutions spent $2,000 per new student acquisition. Two year public institutions used fewer staff for their recruitment and admissions operations, using a ratio of 225 students to 1 full time equivalent. With the rising costs of tuition increasingly in the public eye, and colleges insisting on more return for less spend, goals tied to admissions are under more pressure than ever. What can be done to shrink the cost of marketing dollars while simultaneously increasing yield of those already in your CRM? One area to take a closer look is the user experience or UX.

Perform a  User Experience (UX) Audit

The best audits are highly detailed, with more than one user studying the performance and usability of a site. Consider using a group of individuals with complementary strengths: one who is a “visual learner,” another data-driven. One male, one female, one a traditional student, one non-traditional. However you choose to mix the users, let diversity do what it does best – informing you about the perspectives of different types of people. Translate their feedback to guide improvements for your UX.

Areas To Examine

How does the user enter the eco-system? Regardless of entry point, a clear path to finding more information or applying online should be visible. This means an established hierarchy of visuals that includes type size, colors, button shapes and sizes, and other graphic visuals.  If the user is on a mobile device, especially a smartphone, are they able to reach those areas upon entry, and within each scrollable area of the page?

Clear and useful should be the goal for every user interaction. Special attention should be paid to areas that attract the highest traffic, and also those that you wish to be your conversion points on the site.

Begin by determining your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A question to ask yourself: what interactions can I measure? Perhaps the metric is signups for campus visits, a request for more information, or a gated download. The path to conversion for a first time student is 9 months or more, so remember that these measurements should be made as the student progresses through the system, not upon entry. Google Analytics offers custom dashboards and reports, and can track visitor behaviors for you, making gathering data for your decision even easier.

If you have access to heatmaps or other materials that describe page interactions, there’s even more insights at your disposal! What images are most compelling to your visitors, where does the cursor absentmindedly hover? There are so many ways to measure engagement and each can tell you something more about your audience.

In the education space, the goal is and will always be finding the right-fit student, and enticing them to apply and ultimately enroll. How you interact with them and on what device they can access your information will dramatically impact the conversions on your website and the ultimate yield your institution experiences.

With the rising costs of tuition increasingly in the public eye, and colleges insisting on more return for less spend, marketers with goals tied to admissions are under more pressure than ever. 

Improve Your Search Performance with Content Marketing

Content Marketing has become one of the most important ways for a business to market themselves online. 

Not only does targeted, relevant, frequently updated content on your site nurture your prospects and give them a deeper way to get to know you and your products, if done well over time, it gives good “Google Juice” so that you are ranked higher in searches! Improving your organic search rankings with Content Marketing takes months of consistent publishing on your website. It is for that reason that we work with clients on annual engagements, rather than producing “one-off” pieces.

Click to download our most recent travel content guide.

Optimize Your Trade Shows with Location-Based Targeting

Many B2B marketers are struggling with finding a balance of the traditional pieces of marketing and the new digital trends that are creeping in. The truth is, digital marketing should be an essential piece of every B2B marketing plan, but it doesn’t have to be implemented instead of the traditional route, it should be used to complement the long-standing traditional pieces that are already in place. B2B marketers know – trade shows and conferences are not only the norm but are still an essential part of marketing for a B2B company. These events are great for B2B businesses, but also come with a great price tag – so it’s important for businesses to make the most of the time and money spent at trade shows. One way to optimize your trade shows is with location-based targeting.

By targeting the event location or nearby sites during a particular time, your business can capture the active devices of attendees. Once these devices are captured, your business can use them to your advantage. These devices can be targeted with ads during the trade show and on top of that the data can be collected and you can continue to serve your message to these attendees well after the event. So how does this help your business? We’ve outlined 3 benefits of location-based targeting for your trade show:

Boost The Awareness of Your Brand

A study by Deloitte found that on average, people in the United States across all age groups check their phone 46 times per day. At events like trade shows, the audience that is attending is likely to already be in the industry that your targeting so targeting the physical location will help you reach more people. By targeting attendees with ads at trade shows, it’s likely that they will start associating your name with the industry and you will earn recognition and credibility.

Drive Traffic to Your Booth

Are you giving something away at your trade show booth? Do you have an interesting presentation or demonstration of your product? Target attendees with ads that let them know your booth what value you’re bringing to the event and you will not only receive traffic but more qualified and interested traffic. As a trade show participant, you’re often vying for attention from attendees, so make sure to let attendees know in advance what your booth will have to offer.

Gather Information

What about the people that didn’t get a chance to stop by your booth? Or the people who showed some interest in your product or service, but didn’t want to pull the trigger just yet? One benefit of location targeting is that devices can be collected for remessaging in the future. Ads can be remessaged to trade show attendees for up to 90 days after the event – so why not use that opportunity to send some additional valuable information to those attendees to show your expertise in the industry and to tip the scales in your favor towards a sale.

Does your business have a trade show coming up? Let Advance 360 help you make the most of the event with location-based targeting. Contact us today and let’s chat about building a strategy.

Digital Healthcare Marketing Strategies that Really Work

Constant change has become the norm for healthcare marketers these days, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down as a new administration will inevitably mean changes to the healthcare system. That being said, there is one trend that isn’t going away in digital healthcare marketing, and that’s the focus on the patient. Healthcare has made the shift towards a value-based system, and healthcare organizations depend on patient satisfaction to not only maintain their current patients but to get referrals and gain new ones.

The good news is that organizations that promote themselves digitally will benefit from the increasing consumer involvement in healthcare. Providers are at an advantage, because health is one of the most important topics in people’s lives, and digital marketing is facilitating an exchange of information between these providers and their patients. But what are the best strategies for reaching patients? We’ve outlined some of the most effective ones below:


The goal of many healthcare organizations should be to focus on brand awareness, as well as gaining and retaining patients. The best way to do this is to draw patients in by framing your healthcare facility as a caring and engaged organization. Your story needs to be about putting the patients first. These days, patients are turning to the internet to research their healthcare. By consistently providing them with up-to-date information about diseases and conditions, treatments and procedures, and the doctors and health care professionals in your organization, you can engage the patients that are out there researching. In addition, healthcare marketing is cyclical and should focus on what the patients are experiencing throughout the year. During Mother’s Day, you can run maternity stories, weight loss after the holidays, flu shot information in the winter, and men’s health around Father’s Day. Of course, healthcare organizations need to keep in accordance with HIPAA, so focusing on general and educational information should be the priority.


Don’t forget – content doesn’t just mean the written word. Video marketing is extremely effective for healthcare organizations. Creating videos to post along with your content can greatly enhance your content marketing strategy: according to a study by Moz, posts with videos receive nearly 300% more inbound links. Consider creating patient education videos that explain a complex subject in a short but compelling way, or interview doctors in your office to bring the human factor to your healthcare organization. Make sure to post these videos on your website and share through social platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

Social Media

Engaging with patients means that healthcare organizations need to take it one step further than just posting information on a website. That being said, social media is an important component of healthcare marketing. In fact, 90% of adults 18-24 say they would trust medical information shared by others in their social networks, while 41% of all patients say social media impacts their choice of healthcare providers. Replying to patient concerns in a timely manner is important for healthcare organizations, and encouraging patients to provide feedback on their experience can be an effective social strategy. Healthcare providers should be using social media as one channel to amplify their story. Another great way to use social media to the benefit of a healthcare organization is by creating groups and forums where patients can discuss various aspects of the healthcare field. Keep in mind though, that social media is only effective if it is consistently managed.

Website and Search Engine Optimization

All websites these days are at the mercy of search engine algorithms, and healthcare organizations are no different. If you want your organization to be discovered online, you need to have your website content optimized for that purpose. So what does that mean? In terms of Google specifically, there are two primary metrics: relevance and authority. Relevance is a measure of how relevant your website content is to your business. This used to only be measured through content related to keywords and back-end tags and meta descriptions, but the algorithm has gotten much more sophisticated and can now understand the content as it is related to the intent of the search. Authority is the measure of how trustworthy and valuable a page is based on rankings that include how many times people share or link back to content, how well the site runs, and if it is optimized for mobile usage. In basic terms, the best way to optimize your website is to make sure the content you create to tell your story is valuable, up-to-date, and of good quality.

Email Marketing

The truth is, email marketing is still the standard for business reaching their audience, it just needs to be done in the right way. The best email strategy is a targeted and personalized one that reaches the right audience with the right message. Use personalization techniques that enter in recipient’s names when sending, include a catchy subject line, fill the email with relevant and useful content for the readers. It always goes back to the story and making sure that the patient is getting quality information that aligns with your brand.

By using digital tools to communicate relevant information and educate your patients, you will inevitably build relationships that will help you retain your current patient base and build a community of well-informed and engaged patients that are loyal to your organization.

For NonProfits: The Importance of Understanding Your Donors and Their Motivations

To well-informed marketers, it’s no longer a question of whether they should be diving into digital marketing. The answer to that is a resounding “YES!” The question now is: “How do I integrate digital marketing into my organization’s strategy?” While this is a valid question, marketers should be asking an even more important question before even considering the development of their digital marketing strategy: “Who is my audience?” 

Many nonprofit organizations assume they know who their donor audience is, and develop strategies based on these assumptions. There are two problems with making these assumptions: 

1. How do you know these assumptions are accurate? 

2. Even if these assumptions have been accurate in the past, are they still accurate, and will they continue to be accurate in the future? 

This lack of audience clarification is an important reason why it is crucial for a nonprofit to define its donors. 

Data is one of the most important parts of any digital marketing strategy. Eighty percent of nonprofits use donation amount as their primary, and often only, data point for their targeting strategy. Only 34% use age and birth year data in their targeting. In order to more effectively increase engagement and conversions, nonprofits need to expand their use of data. 

Rather than blindly sending out a message to any available audience, a data-driven strategy can be used to identify and target specific segments of donors. For data to make sense and be valuable, you need to have numerous and accurate data sets. Think of data like a black and white picture. Adding one set of data – like donors – would be like adding the color red. Another set of data, possibly social media followers, would be green, and then adding a third set of data would be like adding blue. Suddenly, you have a full scale color picture. When you analyze and organize the data, it’s like adding a nice frame around it and now the picture is ready for viewing. 

When an organization truly understands its donor base, everything can be planned around those audience members and what they’re looking for. Content can be created that speaks to what’s important to them and what drew them to the organization in the first place. E-newsletters can be timed to agree with a donor’s schedule and filled with content that is important to them. Social media interactions can be more meaningful and create further conversations through sharing. The fact of the matter is that people are more likely to respond to campaigns that resonate with them. More than just knowing an audience, digital marketing helps build strong, loyal, and long-term relationships with donors, so they feel a connection to the organization and continue donating on a regular basis. By knowing who donors are on a more specific level, organizations can understand their habits and behaviors, and relate to donors even more.


Smartphones Take Over

Smartphones have transformed us. We are anxious, even edgy, if we are without our phones, panicked over the potential to be disconnected. We use these devices for the functions once performed by specialized technologies: music players, e-book readers, cameras, and gaming devices. Smartphones have shifted our culture, changed our behavior, and connected us globally. We reach one another differently, manage our personal lives, and share ourselves with others using this device.

Screen-Shot-2017-03-10-at-2.49.35-PM Smartphones Take Over

Exposure Does Not Increase Retention

While dated 2014 (which in today’s market seems outdated), note the crux of this Media Dynamics, Inc. study. Over time (70 years!), despite a dramatic increase in exposure to media, the amount of ad retention remains relatively static. Remember, too, that in 1945, there were significantly fewer advertisements in the media space. It appears that there is a cognitive ceiling to the retention of a traditional ad unit, like a television commercial or periodical display ad. 

 As far-fetched as it seems, we know that with the right audience targeting and frequency, new messages can be learned, retained, and converted to action. Some more than others, but in truth, we do recall the tag line, website, or brand. Knowing that there is a retention ceiling for media users, it is even more important to find the right person to receive your message at the right time. Without someone primed to retain your message, it becomes wallpaper, falling on deaf ears – an audience that simply isn’t prepared to take action. 

This regression, from thousands of messages to just 12 brand engagements illustrates one point clearly: the value of an engagement far exceeds the value of a broad-stroke branding message. If, those engaging are the influence-able few that can be driven to conversion (whether that conversion is a sale, website visit, or entry into an organization’s CRM), then they are the few that must be reached. 

Screen-Shot-2017-03-10-at-2.53.11-PM Exposure Does Not Increase Retention