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How WGU doubled its conversions re-engaging site visitors through remarketing?

How WGU doubled its conversions re-engaging site visitors through remarketing?

Sneak Peak:

Read this case study to know how an online university used remarketing on Google Display Network for re-engaging the site visitors and doubled its conversions at lower costs.  Company: Western Governors University (WGU) Industry:  Education Tool Used: Remarketing on Google Display Network Result: ­ 2X increase in conversions Business Type: B2B/ B2C

The Brand: Western Governors University (WGU)

An online university, Western Governors University (WGU) is committed to increasing access to higher education through online, competency-based degree programs. Being one of the nonprofit institutions formed by the governors of 19 U.S. states, the university is recognized for delivering one of the best values in online education. “We’ve always had to spend money wisely because part of our mission is to keep tuition low, and at the same time, we have to compete against for-profit online universities,” says Mandi Hudson, online marketing manager at WGU. “In marketing and across the university, for us, every dollar really does count.”

Hunting for the deserving candidates

With a growth rate of 30% over the past decade, WGU ensures to customize its marketing efforts in such as a way that they enroll only those students who aspire to become graduates and not just fill seats. Hudson, who is herself a graduate of WGU, says, “We’re not looking for students. We’re looking for future graduates. Our marketing efforts are focused on ensuring we find people who don’t just want to fill seats but are serious about earning their diplomas and moving forward in their careers.” Though WGU’s marketing team makes use of both traditional & online marketing in its marketing mix for finding these future graduates however the majority of students they get come from online marketing and referrals. She says, “Online marketing has been important to the continuing growth of the university because our chances of getting in front of the right people — people actively interested in our product — are generally higher online.”

Turning to Remarketing for prospective opportunities

Till the end of the 2009, the online methods that WGU employed included an assortment of search, Google TV ads, and a range of text & banner ads across the Google Display Network. However, the university was still in the hunt of new ideas rather cost-saving new ideas. It was the time its Google account team brought in the idea of remarketing. With the help of remarketing they could re-engage those who’ve previously visited their website while browsing the sites across Google Display Network. According to Hudson they were immediately drawn to the prospective opportunities. “It was something we had never seen before, and the idea that you could stay in front of people you’ve already worked so hard to bring to your website was mind-blowing.”

Re-engaging the site visitors through Remarketing

It didn’t even take a week, the marketing team at WGU made a few tweaking to the website code for beginning its remarketing campaign. This allowed the university to tag various pages of its website and display ads customized according to those pages to the visitors who visited the respective pages while browsing the Google Display Network. In the initial days they showed the image ads only however later on they added text and video ads. “Remarketing gives us the opportunity to stay in front of potential graduates as they continue on from our site to research other universities. We’re able to offer them additional messaging that will hopefully bring them back to our site,” says Hudson. Remarketing allowed different visitors to see different ads depending on the WGU web page they visited. Let’s say for example visitors to the home page were shown different follow-up ads in comparison to those that visit the College of Business. “As we’ve gone along, we’ve added more tags and refined the process to make sure we’re narrowing the audience and putting relevant ads in front of site visitors,” says Hudson. “The most important thing is we know we’re getting our message in front of people who’ve already shown an interest in the university.”

Doubling the conversions

According to Hudson the remarketing campaign had not just yield them the results they were looking for but even beyond that. It proved to be an efficient and cost-effective way of bringing potential students for WGU back to the site. Talking about the overall conversion rate, it was almost doubled in compare to that of the university’s search campaign. On top of it, both the cost per lead (CPL) and cost per click (CPC) for remarketing was about one-third that of the university’s search campaigns. “The metrics have been exceptional, and as we keep adding tags and refining our process, we believe they can get even better,” says Hudson. “The bottom line is we’re now bringing in future graduates more efficiently than ever before.”

Collaborating with Remarketing for ongoing marketing efforts

Remarketing is now a key component of WGU’s ongoing marketing efforts and the university continues to work out new ways for driving traffic to its website and convincing the visitors to come back. “We learned that remarketing provides a great opportunity to extend your messaging beyond your introductory hello,” says Hudson. “You can establish your brand a little bit deeper with an audience that you get to define.”

Message by Mandi Hudson, Online Marketing Manager at WGU for other online marketers!

“Keep moving, keep updating and keep testing new products. That’s the great thing about online marketing: You can adapt according to what’s working and what’s not. And for us, remarketing is a great product that’s really working.”
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