Can You Guess the Top 3 Converting Higher Education Media Channels?

March 29, 2017 Kathy Bryan

In 2016, 80% of all higher education conversions came from just three media channels. Do you know which channels drove such significant volume? Read on to find out.

#1 Converting Channel for Higher Education: Internal Website

The internal website channel is historically the strongest first-party channel in terms of share of voice (SOV), conversion rate (CVR) and share of conversions (SOC). It did not disappoint in 2016. Last year, according to our 2016 Year-End Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review, almost one-fifth of all leads and more than two-fifths of all conversions came from school websites.

The SOV and CVR were flat year over year (YOY). Meanwhile, the share of conversions grew by 3.6% from 2015 to 2016, which means the internal website channel is more important than ever. Schools that are successfully optimizing their website content and user experience with strong SEO efforts will reap the rewards in the years to come.

#2 Converting Channel for Higher Education: Affiliate Data Lead

Despite a lower than average conversion rate, affiliate data leads secured second place when ranked by share of conversions in 2016, because it is easy to scale third-party vendor campaigns. Almost half of all inquiries and one-fifth of all conversions generated in 2016 were from this channel.

The affiliate data lead SOV was down just 3.9% YOY in 2016. Considering all the talk about transitioning away from third-party sources, this is not much of a regression.

Meanwhile, the conversion rate for affiliate data leads strengthened. Averaging 3.0% in 2016, the affiliate data lead CVR was essentially flat to the average 2.9% rate achieved in 2015. But with maturation still to come (the data was pulled in early February), this conversion rate will rise further over the prior year’s rate. What’s more, the 2016 conversion rate increase was due to performance at the end of the year. Affiliate data lead conversion rates were relatively flat from Q1 2015 to Q2 2016, fluctuating only between 2.7% and 2.9%. But the conversion rate for both Q3 and Q4 2016 was above 3.0%. Due to flourishing interest in high-quality affiliate data lead sources, we expect to see the conversion rate continue to sneak up in 2017. Download the 2016 Year-End Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review to read more, including details about the average CPI and cost per conversion.

#3 Converting Channel for Higher Education: PPC

The PPC SOV was 14.3% in 2016, just slightly higher than the share achieved by this channel in 2015. This minimal growth is demonstrative of the limited opportunity for continued scaling within this channel as intensified competition persists.

From 2015 to 2016, the conversion rate for PPC inquiries fell from 10.0% to 9.0%. Although the 2016 conversion rate will rise as leads continue to mature, a 10% YOY decline is significant. Furthermore, looking quarter by quarter, there is clearly a downhill trend, which may be a sign of saturation as institutions expand their investment in this channel.

Despite the conversion rate slide, PPC was a top converter and took third place with 17.2% of all conversions in 2016.

Click here to download your free copy of the 2016 Year-End Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review, which includes a chart that shows the performance of all channels on page eight.

DMS Can Help You Maximize High-Converting Channels

Are you getting as much as you can from the top three higher education channels? Contact DMS to see if there are optimizations that can boost your conversion volume, potentially even while reducing spend.

About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), an industry leader in providing end-to-end customer acquisition solutions that help clients grow their businesses and realize their marketing goals. In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS and its subsidiary brands. Since its inception, DMS has evolved into a full-service performance marketing company that services firms within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, automotive, jobs and careers. DMS has achieved incredible year-over-year growth, which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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