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As I spend more time in higher ed, it seems like more and more conferences are popping up each year, with dozens happening across the world. That being said, it can be tricky in this industry to decide where to put your time and money when it comes to professional development and industry networking. Whether you’re working in leadership at an institution, or working on partnerships with institutions, the decision can sometimes be crippling. It can help to know beforehand how to make the best use of your time, and which events can be the most fruitful for your situation.
 

So what will make a good conference choice/experience for you? Here are some things to consider:
 

1. Does the conference have a history of valuable, actionable content?

Do the research on any conference that you’re interested in. Ask around to industry peers and see if they’ve attended before. Did the presentations have a focus? Were the presenters focused on teaching and creating thought provoking discussions, or were they focused on trying to sell something proprietary?
 

2. Does the conference’s expected audience align with my situation/program/role?

As the number of conferences becomes more segmented, that segmentation will become more important as you choose where to spend your time and money. You want to make sure the audience and content are going to make sense for your situation, but don’t get caught in the chase of hedging yourself into a corner. If you spend your conference time in an echo chamber, with the same people in the same situation talking about the same topics, your professional growth is going to stagnate.
 

3. What is my professional development goal this year?

Are you interested in making more professional connections? I would advise that you go to widely attended conferences that align closely with your current role. Are you looking for new vendor partners? You should look for conferences with industry/service alignment that have an exhibit hall.

This might sound like a no-brainer, but entire offices easily get caught in a rut of going to a specific set of conferences each year, and don’t think about the purpose behind the trip. Write a list of goals, and pick conferences that align with those objectives.
 

4. What will the off-site event be?

Seriously, you are there to have fun too! No one wants to go to the conference with the lame bus ride to a Journey Cover Band. Avoid those.
 

With these tips in mind, next week RNL + Converge will be presenting at the annual GMAC conference in Denver. If you work at a business program, I hope to see you there. I’m incredibly excited about the Data Analytics presentation we’re bringing with our partners at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, and in general I think that GMAC is a fantastic conference for the graduate business program space. It’s a very well attended conference, and this year they are expecting over 800 attendees. It’s a prime event for industry networking, and the content selection for presentations is top notch (if I do say so myself).
 

At the annual GMAC conference, you can expect data driven keynote presentations, in depth market research that’s aimed specifically at the graduate business school space, and compelling discussions about the reality of the enrollment/marketing drop the industry is currently facing. I have always come away from the GMAC conference with a bevy of relevant information, exciting new relationships and new insights to consider.
 

If GMAC 2019 checks all the boxes that I spoke about earlier, then I hope i’ll see you there next week.
 

The post The Top 4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Conference appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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Are you a higher education marketing leader? Are the deans and provosts of your schools and programs asking you for visibility into return on ad spend (ROAS) or marketing spend? Is it a challenge connecting your ad spend to prospective student engagement and to inquiries, applications and enrollments? You are not alone.

Whether your monthly digital ad spend is in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions, you deserve to know the engagement and results that come from that spend. A lot of the times, the digital agency will only provide you with high level monthly roll-ups in a presentation. Some may even provide a dashboard with performances by campaign. Very few connect the dots and provide you with the impact of applications and the platforms and channels that leads to a prospective students inquiring.

We have developed a solution that enables our clients to see the benefit of full funnel reporting. From marketing spend and website engagement down to applications in their CRM, this capability helps our clients gain insights across the user journey, enables end-to-end tracking and measurement, and provides further insight into marketing performance of the channels/ tactics, campaigns, creative/messaging and other dimensions. By tying the applicants to prior touchpoints and web sessions, we are able to understand the activity of those individuals prior to application and analyze what differentiates them from the non-applicants. We are able to analyze their path, determine the drop-offs, improve our website, messaging and other marketing components to create a more engaged and relevant experience.

 

We helped one of our clients analyze the lead-to-app rates for the various digital campaigns and were able to identify the ones that performed the best. The performance was based on applications with a “lower funnel metric,” which is a far cry from impressions, or cost-per-impression, which are typically provided. With this information, the marketing leaders in the institution can make better decisions as to which channels to utilize, and which pages on their site are the most engaging. Now wouldn’t that be great?
There are requirements, constraints, and recommendations when deploying a Full-Funnel Solution which we’ll discuss in a future blog. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to send me an email at gdao@convergeconsulting.org.

The post The Ultimate ROI Product: Full Funnel Reporting appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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As businesses and individuals are moving towards storing their data and information “in the cloud”, so too are higher education institutions and the agencies that service them. At Converge we have successfully built a data warehouse on the Google Cloud Platform. Let’s talk through why you might need a data warehouse, if it is right for higher education, and the architecture of our Converge data warehouse.
 

Why do we need a Data Warehouse?

The concept of a data warehouse is to create a permanent storage space for the data needed to support reporting, analysis, and other business intelligence (BI) functions. While it may seem wasteful to store data in multiple places (source systems and the data warehouse,) the many advantages of doing this more than justify the effort and expense. The overarching goal is to be able to connect and integrate all of the data from various sources for a client and create a comprehensive dashboard while pulling advanced analytics.
 

Is it Right for Higher Education?

Our clients consistently ask for additional insight into the student journey. For example, which students enrolled after interacting with a campaign or how prospective students are interacting with client web pages. Some of these questions can only be answered if we combine and report on data from various sources – campaign data to CRM data (where applicant data is recorded). To be able to make any significant analysis, we need to gather and store historical data; hence, the need for a data warehouse.
 

Google Cloud

So why did Converge choose the Google Cloud Platform?

  • Ease of implementation
  • Less costly due to no physical hardware
  • Ease of scaling up/down
  • Pay per use

Also, Google Cloud comes with a low cost trial. Initially, this helps you play around with some of the cloud applications before committing to a contract. The Google Cloud console provides an easy-to-use interface, where you can view various applications available on the cloud to launch and use.
 


 

BigQuery

BigQuery is the built-in data warehouse set up on the Google Cloud Platform. BigQuery allows users to upload data files directly from a local device, cloud storage, Google drive, or even put live streaming data to BigQuery tables.
 


 

These files are usually uploaded in JSON or CSV format. If a file is directly uploaded as CSV, the system automatically detects the data type of each field. At the same time, users can edit the schema if they do not want the system generated schema. Once the table is created, only a limited amount of changes can be done to edit the model. Also, the interface allows users to preview and run queries on the tables where query results can be exported into a CSV or Google Sheet. Users can directly pull tables or queries into Google Data Studio to build different reports and dashboards.
 


 

BigQuery enforces us to maintain the tables in the structure as Project -> Datasets -> Tables. We keep separate datasets for CRM, campaign, Google Analytics data. With each dataset we keep a different table for each entity such as applicants and inquiries in a CRM dataset.
 

Converge Data Warehouse Architecture

 


 

In our current architecture, we are receiving data from the client’s CRM, Google Analytics, and campaign data from various platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Ads. The client is exporting their CRM data daily in CSV format and keeping them on their file server. We created a custom script to connect to the client’s FTP (file transfer platform) for pulling these files into our cloud storage. The client’s campaign data is pulled into Google Sheets, utilizing a third party tool that is integrated with various advertising platforms. Using a custom shell script with gsutil & unix commands we pull the data from Google Sheets to the cloud storage. Both the shell scripts are deployed on virtual machine server, in other words, set up on Google Cloud. These scripts are scheduled to run at specific time daily. This server is also used for keeping our backup and log files. Once the files are in cloud storage, “data prep” flows pull and transform the files. Dataprep is a third party tool that’s integrated with Google Cloud which makes the ETL (extract, transform & load) process easy and interactive. Below is a sample screenshot of Dataprep.
 


 

For getting real-time live streaming Google Analytics data to BigQuery, we deployed an application on Google Cloud using a custom script reference.

Data warehouses on the cloud might be an excellent business solution to be considered if your institute has data stored in various source systems and have difficulty sharing data and reporting from these multiple data sources. It is simple and affordable to implement as a solution.
 

The post Setting up a Data Warehouse on the Google Cloud Platform appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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There was a time when websites could be designed and forgotten, at least for a couple of years. That is no longer the case. Today, visitors expect to find current and relevant information on your site — and if they don’t, they’ll move onto another website altogether.

This means that website management should be a daily to-do on your communications checklist. If you are already feeling overwhelmed by all you have to do, there are a few steps you can take to plan and streamline website management so that your website stays continually fresh.

Based on the success of other colleges and universities that have gone through a recent website redesign, the following tips can help you save time, money, resources and headaches:

  1. Capitalize on your existing website’s strengths – and strengthen its weaknesses.
  2. Define and design the flow of information.
  3. Invest in the tools you need to do the job well.
  4. Be inclusive.

 

1. Capitalize on your existing website’s strengths – and strengthen its weaknesses.

This is an obvious starting point, but you’d be surprised by how many schools jump in to a redesign project without being strategic in their initial assessment of what works and what doesn’t. Consider the following:

  • Do you have strong content that can be reused or repurposed on your redesigned site?
  • Does your current website reflect your school’s branding and messaging accurately?
  • Is your school’s mission implied throughout your website? For example, is it clear that you focus on technology or liberal arts?
  • What pages are the most popular on your current website and why?
  • What features and forms are effective, and how do you know?
  • Do you have the human resources you need to maintain the redesigned website that you want?
  • How does your website compare to your competitors?

Questions like these uncover both the strengths and weaknesses of your website and give you a starting point for a redesign.

Hope College in Holland, Michigan, realized that their existing website was lacking in several key areas. Rather than piecemeal quick fixes, their web development team decided to conduct a major overhaul of their website. They enlisted feedback to discover what worked and what didn’t, then devised a strategic plan for their website redesign project. This included revising content, refreshing the design for better functionality, implementing new processes to clarify roles and workflows, and creating structure and organization for optimal information flow.
 


Hope College implemented a new content management system and redesigned their website simultaneously to address ongoing issues with their digital presence.
 

2. Define and design the flow of information.

More than ever, the way information is presented determines whether your audience will read, stay on your website, and ultimately follow through to action. If you are a business, then that action would be purchasing a product. If you are a college or university, that action could be requesting a tour or applying to your school.

If you are taking the time to think through a redesign, you will soon discover why it’s imperative that you define and design your flow of information. Some of the most compelling reasons include the following:
 

Ease of Use

Prospective students – and their parents – live online, so it’s essential for you to incorporate features into your redesign that make the time they spend on your website easy and informative. Think about your own web surfing habits: If a website has too many steps, has confusing graphics or images, makes simple information hard to find, and doesn’t give you the answers you need, are you going to stay on that website for any length of time? No.

The truth is, ease of use gives you a competitive advantage. Think about how Amazon communicates with customers. Using their gazillion-dollar success process as a guide, your strategy would look something like this:

  1. Drive people to the information they want as quickly as possible. Engage quickly.
  2. Make sure the homepage has a clearly defined and distinct value proposition.
  3. Optimize the “shopping process” for your academic program offerings.
  4. Highlight “product features.” Showcase specifics with effective program pages.
  5. Personalize the experience so different audiences can self-identify their journey.
  6. Offer “cross-shopping” by including paths to related programs.
  7. Offer opportunities to engage further. These include information requests, campus tour sign ups, and emails.
  8. Build trust with quotes and testimonials.
  9. Always include a call to action on every page.
  10. Be intentional with SEO strategy.
  11. Capitalize on strong imagery.

 

Smart Design

A beautiful website invites your audience to linger and explore. When redesigning your website, don’t fall victim to the idea that you have to be flashy with graphics and images. Many of the most effective website designs have a simple color palette and use variations on just a few templates. This approach streamlines your design and produces a clean, polished website.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, use some of the same design principles that your competitors feature on their sites, including impactful images, engaging videos, and an up-to-date interactive calendar. For example, unique typography, minimal text, and beautiful images and videos are only a few of the design elements that Queens University of Charlotte employed to capture the interest of their various audiences.
 


Queens College in Charlotte customizes the engagement experience with an attractive, polished website that caters to the different audiences they serve.
 

3. Invest in the tools you need to do the job well.

College football coaches invest in facilities and expertise to enhance their recruitment efforts: Why wouldn’t you do the same? Often college and university administrators and admissions officers think that by tasking the IT department with developing and maintaining a website will save them money. What they are not factoring into the equation is the lost opportunity costs. These folks already have a full-time job, so pulling them away to complete a website redesign only delays completion of work at their “everyday” job.

Furthermore, the students you are trying to recruit are more tech-savvy than you will ever be, and they can easily recognize a patched together website. Accustomed to instant answers found in one click, these students give you no more than eight seconds to engage them. How many of them will you lose by not investing in the tools you need upfront to do a website redesign project well?

The most essential tool needed for your website redesign is a quality content management system (CMS). A CMS is literally the backbone of your website. It’s what makes your forms display and process accurately. It provides a framework for presenting information in a cohesive way. It affects performance and responsiveness.

In fact, your redesigned website will be only as good as the framework it’s built upon. With 25 years of experience redesigning college websites, Elliance has found that systems architecture, customization, domain architecture, and a CMS are vital in ensuring your website’s success.

Consider these guidelines when evaluating content management systems:

  • Don’t be cheap—be smart when it comes to budgeting for your site. The cost of web design or a web content management system (CMS) can vary widely depending on your goals, time frame, and resources, and the least expensive is not always the most affordable in the long term.
  • Choose a CMS specializing in higher ed so that the tools built into the system are designed specifically for marketing, communications, and web professionals who work in higher education.
  • Include customer support and automatic updates on your “must have” list. If you don’t have a large staff to manage your redesigned website, you’ll want the backing of a support team who can answer your questions and help you resolve issues. The same goes with updating your software. Do you have the time to add constant plug-ins? If not, it’s well worth the cost to invest in a CMS that does this automatically.

 

4. Boost your user experience.

Take this test: Put your sunglasses on and read the following:
 


Accessibility compliance has become an all-encompassing definition for an optimal user experience for all website visitors.
 

Everything clear? Or did you have trouble reading certain lines? When text and its background color have a low contrast, the readability of your content decreases drastically. It’s hard to read if you have no visual impairments; just think how hard it is for those who do. This is one of the many reasons why you want your website to be inclusive and accessible to all.

Accessibility has long been a concern for higher education, but the trend is now shifting to encompass a better user experience for everyone in your audience. According to eCampus News, 11 percent of post-secondary students report having a disability. Consider this — if thousands of students visit your site, hundreds may interact with your website via keyboard, screen readers, or other tools to help find the content of interest. How does their experience with your website fare? When you take the time to create a better experience for impaired users, you make the experience better for everyone.

To make sure every aspect of your site adheres to ADA and web standards, build it correctly from the ground up with the right architecture, CMS, and compliance checks. Most people aren’t accessibility specialists, so the following resources can also help you maximize your website’s user experience for all:
 

Check in to a central knowledge base.

Look no further than the A11Y Project for technical articles, tools, checklists, and more to learn how to incorporate best practices into your website redesign. The College and University Website Redesign: The Ultimate Guide is another resource that offers a detailed look at the complete redesign process.
 

Navigate with your keyboard.

Are you able to tab through the navigation of your website in the expected order of items? Can you discover and access every option as if you are using a mouse? Is this process consistent across all pages of your site?

Keyboard navigation exposes navigation and discoverability issues on your site. These two major components contribute to a great user experience, and by resolving any issues about them quickly, you will improve your site’s overall usability.
 

Navigate your site using a screen reader.

A screen reader bypasses design to ensure that your website can be understood by someone who has impaired sight. Think about it: Images usually are used to grab a reader’s attention, but they don’t have the same effect on users with impaired sight. This is where your code and content become important factors. Provide quality alt descriptions, check for misspelled words, and check that forms have labels and aria-attributes. This article by WebAIM provides a primer on screen readers and their importance.
 

Conclusion

Updating your existing website is a project that once complete, contributes to more effective communication, increased enrollment, and even donor contributions. By thinking through the steps before embarking on the process, you’ll finish with an intentional, intuitive website redesign that both looks and performs effectively and efficiently.

Ready to embark on your redesign journey? Download College and University Website Redesign: The Ultimate Guide for a step-by-step look at the redesign process.

Heidi King is the content writer for OmniUpdate, creator of award-winning OU Campus®, the most popular commercial content management system for higher education professionals.
 

The post The Old College Try: Updating Your University Website appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to evaluate several marketing organizational structures across industries. My review of research included functional marketing areas, and what the marketing structure of the future could look like.
 

The current higher education marketplace is as complex as it gets with university wide, program specific marketing goals and budgets spread across the institution. Most marketers either have a point of view in which they are monitoring activity across different parts of the funnel or ROI on major initiatives. Without goals, tools and an organizational structure that solves for duality of strategy focused on short term growth and long term innovation, attribution is difficult to set up and measure. This specific blog focuses on how we can start to solve both short and long term organizational structure.
 

Below is my favorite organizational structure for marketers that I would encourage you to review. This is Hubspot’s marketing organizational structure and is called TOFU which stands for Top of the Funnel.
 


 

So what do we love about this structure?

  • Focuses on providing a buyer-driven inbound experience
  • Adds value through content and contextual marketing
  • Is steeped in buyer personas and delivering experiences
  • Organizes content as a dedicated function in the organization

 

Most modern college marketing organizational structures address the brand and buzz function very well. The product specific and demand generation piece tends to be very decentralized based on who the audience is: undergraduate, graduate, online, adult, continuing education, etc.
 

The key takeaways from this marketing organizational chart and key areas of interest that you may want to consider further are:

  • Search Engine Optimization (generating traffic to your website that you can capitalize on and turn into inquiries), with a specific content function this model plays off of what colleges are best at, creating amazing content that people are interested in and getting prospective audiences to opt into your funnel.
  • Product Specific Expertise (individuals who own the specific program or major and are experts in that area), with a specific nod to who the persona is, and how we engage that specific prospective student in a major or area with custom and personalized content.
  • Demand Gen Expertise & Sales Enablement (perhaps the area most college’s outsource or handle through inbound inquiries and admissions) as the ability to proactively communicate what your unique value proposition is to the consumer with a specific interest.

 

As we evaluate and review many different iterations of organizational structures, we realize that many of these functions are covered in one way or another within an organization. However, to truly move to a top of the funnel organization focused on bringing in the right prospective audience, there are a few pieces that could be thought about or organized in a different way.
 

For more conversations related to marketing organizational charts and how higher education can evolve their structures to better realize today’s enrollment and marketing goals, shoot me a note at ann@convergeconsulting.org
 

The post Evaluation of Your Marketing Organizational Structure in a Time of Digital Disruption appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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Limited budgets and limited staff—challenges that every marketing team can relate to. How can you expand your efforts without necessarily expanding your dollar spend or employee count?
 

Consider an often-untapped resource: faculty. (Yes, faculty!)
 

Our friends at Columbia University’s Teachers College have some tips and tricks they use to engage their faculty in student recruitment efforts. Taking a cue from Brooks Terry, director of enrollment marketing—and adding a few of our own ideas—here are seven suggestions about how your marketing team can work with faculty to optimize engagement with prospective students.
 

1. Analyze Program Web Pages Together

Sit down with faculty and walk through their program websites. Is the published content (program information, curriculum, course descriptions, and bios) up to date? As concise as it can be? Have they had any recent conversations with students that might translate well to testimonials? Are there clear and easy calls to action for students who want to apply, contact the department, or ask a question?
 

2. Partner on Program Advertising

Ask faculty members to collaborate with you to develop a marketing strategy and campaign that will raise program awareness and target the right audience. They might have insight into what potential students will want to hear and see about the program, as well as know about untapped channels to reach these students.
 

3. Encourage Faculty to Use Social Media

Personal social media channels can be good places for faculty to share clips of their work or student/alumni success stories they hear about. Ask them if they’re willing to try this. If so, provide some guidance on what/how to share, as well as dos and don’ts—and how to follow and share content featured on your university’s main channels.

Once they buy into the strategy, the content they share will often give your department good fodder for your social media channels as well. There will be lots of stories you can share with your followers.
 

4. Streamline Communication with Potential Students

To prepare faculty to respond to questions from potential students, work with them to create an email message they can easily personalize and send out as needed. Consider developing an FAQ document—whether it’s posted online or kept as a PDF—that faculty can share with prospective students, too.
 

5. Ask Faculty to Participate in Open Houses

Including faculty in panels or program-specific events during open houses and info sessions is a great way to start the relationship-building process with students. During an open house or info session, make faculty easily accessible for networking and questions. Share their contact information afterward so potential students can reach out later.
 

6. Ask About Hidden Talents

It’s very possible that there are faculty members on staff who excel at things like photography, videography, etc. By asking them to put their skills to work for your department, you’ll save time and resources while also helping them get involved in something they love.
 

7. Prompt Faculty for Stories

People don’t often recognize the stories woven into their daily jobs and interactions. Every once in a while, ask faculty members a question about what they’re up to, recent student interactions they’ve had, or alumni they’ve heard from. You can even create a quick and easy story sharing form to start the conversation. The stories they share will give you ideas to follow up on for social media, marketing collateral, testimonials, alumni magazines, and success stories.
 

Benchmarking for Success

Once you’ve implemented some of these ideas, start collecting data for benchmarking purposes. What’s working and what isn’t? Are faculty responsive to sharing content on social media but don’t want to participate in open houses? Are there early adopters who can help coach/engage other faculty members in the cause?

Based on what you notice, there are opportunities to make adjustments—or to have an open dialogue about how they prefer to assist with recruitment and enrollment. Be sure to share positive results with faculty, too, so they know their time and efforts are truly making a difference!
 

The post 7 Ways to Tap into Faculty for Your University Marketing Efforts appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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In digital advertising we have several methods we can implement using lists or websites with user data in order to serve advertisements more effectively. Three of the methods I will explore are retargeting, lookalike audiences, and list targeting.
 

Retargeting

Retargeting is the method of showing advertisements to a user after they have taken a specific action. These actions can include visiting a specific page on a website, filling out a request for information (RFI), or enrolling at an institution.

We can use retargeting to generate awareness of the brand through many of the popular digital advertising platforms including Google Ads, Facebook & Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. In addition to generating awareness, we can exercise tactics to drive users to a specific action such as completing an RFI, attending an event, or enrollment. These retargeting advertisements follow the user around the internet to keep your brand top-of-mind and help drive conversions through a longer customer journey which is lost when only implementing standard advertisements.

By being strategic about your remarketing efforts, you can tailor your message to complement where the user is in the marketing funnel. Let’s say you have prospective students or customers going to an RFI page and you want to keep serving ads to those that leave without converting. In this case we can tailor the message in our ads to drive them to “Learn More” and send them back to that RFI page when they click. Similarly, when your prospective student is further down the funnel, “Apply Now” messaging can be more appropriate. Accordingly, sending the user to the application page for an institution makes more sense here.
 

List Targeting

List targeting is essentially retargeting but using a list of customers or users instead of entering a URL to retarget from. List targeting can be useful in many ways. One example could be a list of prospective students that “melted” or stopped responding to emails or did not enroll and specifically targeting them. Another example could be targeting specific users that attended a conference or event.
 

Lookalike Audiences

A lookalike audience is when you take a list of users or customers that have taken a specific action (completed an RFI, enrolled, etc.) and upload them into a platform which then matches that audience to the population using an algorithm or machine learning. A list is then created that is most similar to your list based on demographic information available to that platform. We often see lookalike audiences perform very well in terms of leads and Cost Per Lead (CPL) and generally recommend their implementation as a best practice in digital advertising. In summary, you can reach new users who are likely interested in your product or service based on the characteristics of individuals who had actually converted.
 

All of these methods have their place within modern digital advertising and generally we find the best results when utilizing all three methods. By taking the time to implement these we can expand our reach to prospective students and serve our advertisements throughout the entire customer journey.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about these methods, feel free to contact me at patrick.hagan@convergeconsulting.org or any of our marketing or business development staff.

The post Knowledge Share: Retargeting, Lookalikes and List Audiences appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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Google announced recently that they will be implementing new measures in their Chrome browser, giving users the ability to further protect their browsing data. While in the past, browsers first gained traction by making content on the internet look visually appealing to viewers, security and user privacy quickly took a back seat as browser giants competed to be faster and more reliable than the competition. With this growth came more invasive ad tracking, but lately it seems concerns about online privacy, and maybe more so concerns for fines and scandals arising out of it, have caused these tech giants to make new updates putting user privacy at the forefront.
 

The new Chrome update will give users the ability to customize the tracking of their browsing activity with personalized dashboards showing cookies tracking them and the option to disable these third parties.
 

For example, if I visit a website samplegraduateprograms.com to learn about graduate programs I might be interested in, a third-party cookie could be placed on my browser to track my activity from another domain collegeforfree.com. This third-party cookie tracking could detect that I’m in a custom intent audience for a graduate program and place ads on websites I visit in the future. Currently, Chrome users do have the option to block third-party cookies, but it’s a little hidden in Advanced Content Settings.
 


 

While Safari and Firefox have already implemented some restrictive cookie tracking, Chrome holds a 63% market share. These new updates come in light of continued efforts towards data transparency started by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and according to Google are six years in the making, involving the rework for millions of pages of code and negotiations with many other companies. Some are criticizing Google, not for it’s supposed focus on customer data privacy, but for giving users the option to block out every other vendor but them, furthering its own dominance in the industry.
 

“This is about giving users more control of their data, but it also gives publishers more control of their own data. There has been too much reliance on third-party data as a way to understand audiences. This puts the power back in publishers’ hands.” – Amit Kotecha, marketing director at DMP Permutive

 

Facebook is also joining in this effort by offering a “clear history” tool, letting people erase their personal data from websites and apps outside of the social network that would traditionally be utilized for advertising. With these updates from both Facebook and Google, targeting audiences created from cross-site cookies such as retargeting and custom intent will be affected. While this might be a sigh of relief for those of us followed by various ads as we browse the internet, it might mean the ability to drill down in targeting options could take a further hit if many users decide to opt in to use these features. However, blocking these cross-site cookies will also make it difficult for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities easily intercepted, modified or stolen over non-secure connections.
 

With the large concern around data privacy coming to light in the past few years, it may seem that users, advertisers and tech giants will be forced to weigh the pros and cons of valuing the privacy of individuals navigating the web with the accuracy and tracking capabilities of the past. While we expect updates like these to affect attribution modeling and audience building for cookie-based audiences, such as interest, custom infinity and custom intent, we can also hope that the future audiences we are capitalizing on are more engaged and better defined according to regulation than ever before. And while this may come as a shock to advertisers utilizing cookie-based technology, advertisers can turn to companies like El Toro, who use only first-party, offline data. In addition, most websites offering login-based services utilize first-party cookies and support persistent person IDs, which oftentimes paint a more thorough picture than third-party cookies not able to track between various browsers, devices and channels.
 


 

Other areas to take advantage of in light of these updates include customer match and contextual signals such as placements, topics, and similar audiences.
 

To continue the conversation around privacy updates and what will be in store for the future of advertiser targeting, let’s get in touch. Send us a direct message @ConvergeOrg or an email at info@convergeconsulting.org.

The post Chrome, Cookies, & Custom Audiences – How Evolving Data Privacy Measures Affect Advertisers Targeting Capabilities appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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A common trend has started in the past 5 years. Institutions and cities are now paying students to relocate for an incentive. I speak from personal experience on this topic. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Technologies from the University of Northern Iowa, I instantly received messages from the Tulsa Remote program. This program offered people $10,000 to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a year. With a life goal to pursue my Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS) license, I strongly considered this incentive. Now, it’s not just cities offering money to reallocate, but specific institutions.
 

The largest technical college in Kansas is now paying relocation and housing costs for students to move to the area, many from other states, to deal with a workforce shortage in the local aviation industry. The workforce shortage in the aviation manufacturing industry was the driver of the technical college’s experiment with paying potential students to move from across the country to enroll at the two-year institution. The program is called, “Wichita Promise Move” and is being advertised on all social media platforms to bring a specific crowd to the Kansas area.
 

“There are all kinds of opportunities in manufacturing and aviation here,” said Sheree Utash, WSU Tech’s president.

 

With the help of a one-time $500,000 grant form the Wichita Community Foundation, they received over 1,000 applicants offering a scholarship to 50 individuals. Only nine of the fifty students to receive a scholarship were from Kansas. While the Wichita Promise Move program has proved successful, there is no source of income. Despite the funding challenge, WSU Tech has big plans for the scholarship saying, “the goal is to put together a program we could scale and maybe create a national model to encourage people to gravitate towards markets where this is an industry need.”
 

On the flip side, cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma are offering workers $10,000 to move, discounted rent for the first 3 months, plus plenty of programming, events and community-building opportunities to help newcomers get settled. The Tulsa Remote program is part of a series of efforts to attract new talent spearheaded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a $3.5 billion charitable endowment that is committed to addressing poverty in Tulsa and creating a more vibrant city. If you are interested in reading more on the Tulsa Remote program, check out this detailed Forbes article.
 

In recap, new incentives are popping up daily through social media advertising. If you are an institution, organization or foundation looking for digital advertising efforts, then Converge is your one stop shop. We craft high-impact integrated media mixes that combine the power of paid social advertising, search engine marketing, programmatic display, traditional media and strategic New & Next channel opportunities to deliver your target audience segments from awareness to enrollment. As always, if you have any questions or would like to get in contact, please DM us @ConvergeOrg or send us an email at info@convergeconsulting.org.
 

The post Institutions and Cities Paying Students to Move appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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“For the past several years we have partnered with Converge for their best in class digital marketing expertise. At the same time we’ve enjoyed a great relationship with RNL, partnering in numerous areas. We are thrilled with the news that they’ve now “joined forces” to become even more effective in the higher ed space. Combining two industry leaders like these goes beyond taking things to the next level, creating a new ecosystem of higher ed solutions. It’s a great day in marketing!” – Mark Cork

Northwest Nazarene University, a Christian comprehensive university, offers over 60 areas of study, 18 master’s degrees in seven different disciplines and two doctoral degrees. In addition to its 90-acre campus located in Nampa, Idaho, the University also offers programs online as well as in Idaho Falls and in cooperation with programs in 35 countries. Founded in 1913, the University now serves over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, more than 6,000 continuing education students and over 2,000 high school students through the concurrent credit program.
 

As a faith-based, private liberal arts school in Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University had trouble reaching its target students and needed a way to express their quirky, fun-loving personality coupled with its academic rigor and spiritual quality. NNU needed to get the word out about their undergraduate programs, so Converge stepped in.
 


 

Interested in how Converge + RNL could help your brand? Over the next few months we will be hosting a series of webinars to further explore how this joint combination of services can impact the Education space. Reserve your spot for our webinar, From Inquiry to Enrollment: Comprehensive Higher Ed Solutions From Converge & RNL. Join Converge Vice President of Digital Strategy, Hayley Warack, RNL’s Vice President of Product Management, Matt Krov, and RNL’s Vice President of Digital Marketing Strategy, Kayla Manning, to discover how RNL and Converge are partnering with schools to complete their digital transformation to enrollment.
 

The post Case Study: Northwest Nazarene University appeared first on Converge Consulting.

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