A strategic digital advertising plan helped one EMBA Program reach prospects, promote inquiries, and track leads. As a result of the efforts, the program saw an 11 percent increase in inquiries, a 25 percent increase in applications, and a 10 percent increase in enrolled students.
EMBAC corporate member Converge Consulting collaborated with the program to help them marshal digital media with the aim of meeting their marketing and admissions goals. Founded in 2011, Converge Consulting focuses on unleashing the power of the digital world in ways that help programs and schools reach their targets.
The firm just celebrated its fifth anniversary, marking its growth throughout those years in the industry and its commitment to combining strategic approaches and to staying on the frontier of the new technology and advances.
Founder and CEO Ann Oleson spent 20 years in the higher education market before starting her own firm to help universities and colleges make the most of the emerging online world.
At that time, website development dominated the digital landscape, says Oleson Now the ever-expanding digital experience encompasses many aspects from search engine optimization to digital advertising to customized strategic digital campaigns that make use of the latest in technology to identify and attract prospects.
“We know that one of the first places people turn for information is the web,” she says. Recognizing the importance of the digital experience, higher education is increasingly looking to maximize its online efforts.
“One of the biggest trends that we are seeing is graduate programs that are looking to improve their recruiting efforts,” says Oleson. “There is much work to do in the graduate space.”
A strong digital presence involves more than just a functional web site. Converge uses the latest and up-and-coming tools to bolster student recruitment and alumni engagement. For example, Converge pioneered inbound marketing, or the generation of content that draws the attention of the target audience, for higher education.
“Creating engaging content helps pull people in instead of pushing ads out,” says Jay Kelly, president and managing partner. Kelly came to Converge Consulting with leadership experience in the digital field, working for Educational Dynamics and also the New York Times digital, and leverages that experience in shaping the offerings and approaches for higher education.
The firm’s services include inbound marketing, website design, content strategy, search engine optimization, digital advertising, and web analytics, as well as digital and content strategy. It continues to grow and expand, both in staff and locations.
Launched in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Converge Consulting opened a new office Philadelphia, Pennsylvania earlier this year. The firm also has an office in Denver, Colorado.
Converge Consulting takes a strategic, integrated, and collaborative approach in working with business schools and other higher education clients, setting measureable goals, defining options, executing, and tracking results, says Oleson.
For one university, Converge completed a branding and website project that encompassed tasks such as target audience identification and research, branding guidelines, and website development and testing. “It was an incredibly collaborative process,” she says.
Converge Consulting is always looking to the digital future. “We pride ourselves on knowing what’s new and what’s next,” says Kelly. To that end, Converge has added geofencing as one such new digital option. Geofencing uses GPS technology to send targeted ads to mobile users in a specific location, such as a sporting event.
Geofencing fits with the growth of mobile use, says Oleson. In addition, video has become popular, especially with the ability to establish YouTube channels.
Converge first learned about EMBAC through an EMBAC member and was eager to join. “It offers us an opportunity to learn more about members and to gain greater exposure,” says Oleson.
“We want EMBA Programs to know that we are focusing on the new and next,” she says, and the ways that programs can benefit from applying and integrating the new and next for optimal results. “We are constantly pushing the envelope to understand what’s new and next to help develop solutions.”
Converge also emphasizes measuring the results and return on investment from their solutions. “Each project has a set of key performance indicators that we set at the beginning,” says Oleson. From there, the firm tracks the indicators, such as the number of inquiries that comes from a digital ad campaign and the number of those inquiries that turn into applications.
Technology can help higher education in evolving to the many changes that are impacting higher education, says Kelly. And the mission to help higher education succeed is indeed a satisfying one for Oleson and Kelly.
“Education is the most important way we can change the world,” says Kelly. “And higher education is one of the most important industries to support.”