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One thing we have mentioned often on the Higher Education Marketing site is Return on Investment, or ROI. As we’ve said in the past, increasing your ROI is one of the major goals of all Internet marketing activity.

But what exactly does ROI mean? Here is a handy primer on the basics of ROI.

First steps

Essentially, the idea behind the ROI is that schools should be undertaking practices to know the exact effect of every marketing dollar.

As always, the first step involves knowing what the goals are. In the case of a school, the ultimate goal may be to register students, but they could also have goals involving inquiries or lead generation. Generally, Higher Education Marketing would work with a school at the beginning of a mandate to define these goals. Often schools know what their end goals are, but they need some assistance to translate those objectives in a way that is measurable and tangible.

Once your school knows what Web marketing goals it’s trying to achieve, you can then set up the system to know whenever those goals occur. Conceptually, what we’re trying to do is know how many times a goal is completed, where that goal originated from, and what the cost of that initiative is. Once we know that, we can do some simple mathematics to know what the ROI is. Typically, Higher Education Marketing uses Google Analytics to help track the ROI of the marketing.

What’s next?

Once goals are set we would make sure schools are equipped to measure ROI. A lot of schools have great marketing departments and a lot of great marketing minds, but often they are not prepared or trained to effectively implement and measure the ROI. We would, therefore, set up Google Analytics to give them this ability.

Keep in mind that there are also conversion tracking mechanisms within Google Adwords and other Pay Per Click marketing channels, like Microsoft adcenter and Facebook ads. This, in essence, measures and reports on specific actions that are completed within the context of the website, like a submitted lead form or a student registration. Once that occurs, a conversion has been accrued.

Increasing your ROI

Once you can measure it, you want to do it better. Every time you measure a cycle, you typically refine the process of that measurement, and the more actionable data you have, the more you can then improve your metrics.

The best advice here is to optimize one channel at a time. If your school, for example, uses Google Adwords, Facebook, twitter and in newspapers, as well as lunch and learns and career fairs, you have to look at each of these initiatives separately. What are the separate ROI for each initiative? Once you know that, you can then figure out the aggregate ROI. If you want to improve the aggregate, you have to improve each individual tactic. This can sometimes mean stopping an initiative altogether, or simply increasing one in favor of another. Other times it can mean revisiting your creative, your calls to action, your Web design and more. All these variables have an effect on the ROI, but you can only access them and play with them when you have the ability to track and measure.

To find out more about increasing your ROI contact Higher Education Marketing today.