The Importance of Research in Digital Marketing Strategies

Posted: March 22, 2023

Joy George Proofreader

So you’ve signed on for a digital marketing project and you want to see all the good things happen. Right now.

We get it! It’s a natural instinct to immediately want to launch a campaign and begin analyzing results. After all, the internet is open 24/7, right? We don’t have to wait for a newspaper or magazine to be printed in order to get the word out. So why can’t we start advertising now?

But jumping into the deep end like that doesn’t usually work out for the best. 

Look, Julie Andrews said it best when she sang, “Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.”

And for your marketing plan to work, the very beginning is research. Our Vice President of Strategy, Matt Walters, agrees with Julie. “From very early in our partnerships, we start to bring insightful value to every conversation. With right-sized amount of research and discovery we do for each client partner, we can begin improving your situation from the early days of our partnership.”

For your marketing plan to work, the very beginning is research.

Why Research is Important for Digital Marketing Success

Market research can come in a variety of forms. Still, the idea behind it is the simple fact that to have an effective marketing plan, you need to know who you’re marketing to and what they want. That’s where powerful research comes in. Because companies and institutions that are focused on their audiences are 60% more profitable than those that don’t take the time to understand what their audiences or prospective students want.

While our two decades of higher ed marketing gives us some a solid foundation about what prospective students want from a higher education institution, each college serves different demographics. Each college’s students have different needs and wants. And the needs and wants change over time. It’s that in-depth research in the moment that will make your enrollment marketing efforts more successful. The research we do helps us:

  • Understand an institution’s target audience to better tailor messages and experiences to meet the needs of prospective students.
  • Identify market opportunities, allowing us to understand gaps, untapped markets, and new opportunities.
  • Evaluate competitors to help position your institution more effectively.
  • Test concepts before investing significant amounts of budget and refine messaging if needed.
  • Measure success and use data-driven decisions to adjust and reallocate, optimizing your ROI.

And it’s the information we glean from this research that sets us up for the success we often see with clients. That in-depth knowledge helps us guide headlines, descriptions, and images. It helps us target specific audiences and demographics with our ads. And it’s that insight from research that allows us to claim:

Decisions led by market research are smarter decisions than going with your gut instinct. While research does take time, the results can drive data-driven decisions that lead to success. Research can help decisions such as:

  • What channels to focus your budget on.
  • What elements to include in ads.
  • Specific keywords and demographic targeting that will generate the best leads.

All of this comes from understanding your prospective students and targeting their needs and desires rather than throwing out promises and hoping they attract people. Engaging prospective students with messaging that will resonate with their needs can only come through market research. After all, we see nearly 6,000 ads a day online. If taking a little time to research can help make your institution’s prospective students stop and pay attention, isn’t it worth it?

VisionPoint’s Research Process

With our history in the higher ed industry, we know what we’re looking for in research. Our best results always come when we have the time to fully research your institution, its strengths, and what makes it unique for prospective students. And we know how to take that information and apply it to a strategy that can consistently beat industry benchmarks with fewer dollars and more solid leads.

Matt emphasizes, “We do the right amount of custom discovery and research right-sized research reports that give immediate value. We’re good at assessing situations with an eye toward actionable strategy to change your situation for the better.” And improving your situation gets at the heart of what we do.

Founder and CEO Diane Sutton (left) and vice president Matt Walters.

So what does a research process look like at VisionPoint? We begin by establishing a deep understanding of your audiences, competition, brand promise, and the current state of your marketing efforts. All of this information leads to a strategic plan that will ensure the best ability to garner solid leads that can turn into enrolled students.

We take a deep dive into the following:

  • Brand and market review to understand your current positioning while assessing strengths and opportunities for improvement.
  • Enrollment data and student demographics to identify best-fit students, recognize trends and opportunity gaps, and better understand how prospective students engage with your institution from awareness through enrollment.
  • Competitor and peer research to find better ways to differentiate your institution through messaging and media approaches that reach your right-fit audiences.
  • Marketing funnel analysis to understand prospective students’ behavior, map out your funnel, and identify opportunities to improve “leaks” or areas of drop-off.
  • Keyword research to enable us to align your institution’s existing keyword inventory with the words actual prospects are using to find the types of opportunities your institution has to offer to help ensure each ad yields the highest return on investment.

Meet With Us

Looking to get ahead of the enrollment decline with some focused enrollment marketing efforts? Let us do the focused research that will bring your institution valuable returns. Schedule a consultation to learn how VisionPoint’s research can help you succeed in meeting your enrollment goals.