Indiana Tech

Media Planning and Buying for a Diverse Institution

Recognized for its inclusivity, student-centered faculty, and career-focused approach to learning, Indiana Tech is a regional leader in online and on-campus education. However, in a competitive industry and ever-evolving digital landscape, there is always pressure to attract new students. The private university needed to expand its reach beyond its Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois campuses to engage a variety of student types: traditional, online, and working adults. Since 2015, Asher has helped Indiana Tech buck national trends by consistently exceeding industry standards for digital performance while also maintaining a strong traditional media presence.

Interior photograph of Indiana Tech building
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Consumer Insights

Asher approaches Indiana Tech’s enrollment campaigns by studying the individual needs of its primary audiences: The College of Professional Studies (CPS) audience—working adults returning to college—and The Day School (TDS) audience—high school students, recent high school grads, and their parents. With CPS, which represents 80% of the university’s student population, there are further complexities, as Indiana Tech seeks to reach active and former military, master’s, and Ph.D. candidates, and employers considering tuition reimbursement incentives.

So, what methods do we use to understand students across diverse geographic and demographic markets? We often start with focus groups of stakeholders and students to gather student perceptions, motivations, and challenges while also pinpointing opportunities for the college along the path to enrollment.

At this point we have started to build out robust student personas. For example, some TDS students prioritize the ability to develop close connections with faculty for mentorship and networking while others focus on cost, community, and professional development opportunities. In contrast, our CPS audience values flexible scheduling and accommodating faculty who understand the struggles of juggling school and work. By being equipped with this knowledge, we can reach our audiences with the most targeted, relevant messaging.

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Image portraying the key audience personas for Indiana Tech
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Planning and Buying

With our market research compiled, we develop an integrated campaign that speaks to the specific needs of all audiences. Targeted messaging is segmented with a funnel approach, meaning that we engage with prospects at all stages of the student journey: awareness, consideration, and inquiry.

Our media plans are based on a seamless integration of traditional and digital channels. These annual plans create a cohesive, always on strategy that allows us to stay top-of-mind all year round rather than exhausting our budget during peak enrollment periods.

For traditional media, we use a broad range of vehicles, including broadcast, cable, radio (including streaming), outdoor, and print. Since our media coverage spans a wide range of DMAs, we partner with a variety of media sources to profile the media habits of consumer groups to find the top stations in the market. Additionally, we continuously nurture relationships with local, regional, and national media partners to generate added value.

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Infographic demonstrating funnel approach
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We maximize success for digital campaigns by pairing granular audience intelligence with a robust set of targeting capabilities. Some of the targeting practices we use for campaigns include:

  • Custom Audiences: The ability to reach customers who have already interacted with your brand through targeted messaging
  • Lookalike Audiences: The ability to reach an audience who closely resembles your current customers
  • Addressable geofencing (developed through curated lists): The ability to reach prospects based on their physical address
  • Interest: Reaching an audience based on affinities, such as wedding dresses or cooking
  • IP: This method delivers personalized content to a website visitor’s mobile or desktop device based on its physical location
  • Device Targeting: Targeting media to specific electronic devices (desktop, phone, tablet, etc.)
  • Geographic targeting (“geo-targeting”): Targeting media to national, state, DMA or zip code level geographic locations
  • Contextual: Ads that appear on site that are relevant to the content a user consumes
  • Demographic
  • Behavioral: Delivering messages based on past site or app usage
  • Keyword
  • Retargeting

We then layer a series of digital tactics together. Some common channels we employ include the following:

  • Paid search
  • Social display and video
  • Programmatic display and video
  • Social listening
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Results

The results of our campaigns over the years would be notable under any circumstances but are especially impressive given the impact of COVID-19 on student enrollment.

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CPS: 2020 vs. 2019

Year-Over-Year

  • Web users: +29%
  • New web users: +29%
  • Web sessions: +40%

CPS Search Engine Marketing:

Year-Over-Year

  • CTR annual increases:

– 2018: 4.2%

– 2019: 7.61%

– 2020: 9.35%

  • +222% increase in past 3 years

TDS: 2020 vs. 2019

Year-Over-Year

  • Web users: +15%
  • New web users: +22%
  • Web sessions: +10%

This relentless focus on optimization and a deep understanding of how students spend their time has helped Indiana Tech build on its past successes in recruiting both traditional and adult students. Whether we’re driving enrollments, generating demand for a new program, or supporting student retention, Asher’s campaigns further Indiana Tech’s mission of empowering students to reach their full professional—and personal—potential.

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