Driving Demand for a Niche Graduate Program

Digital Marketing Campaign for the University of South Carolina’s College of Education

A Segmented Approach to Driving Enrollment Growth

With more than 33,000 graduates, the University of South Carolina’s College of Education is the premier destination for educators in the state of South Carolina—an appropriate distinction for a college whose mission is to improve the quality of education across the state of South Carolina and beyond.

To deliver on its mission, the college continues to evolve the programs it offers as well as the modes in which they are delivered. The master’s in adapted physical education is no exception. And while the program boasts notable faculty members, innovative practices and specialized training focused on a critical need – for the first time – the College’s marketing efforts needed to reach prospective students outside of the state.

OUR CHALLENGE: Bringing a Niche Degree to a Wider Audience

Our challenge would be to advertise a niche degree to a broader out-of-state audience. In a sense, we needed to create a go-to-market strategy, with a limited budget, targeting notoriously expensive and saturated markets. A tall task, but a textbook use-case for a return to marketing fundamentals.

Fundamentals and then some flash

To meet this challenge, we knew we would need to create demand before we could capture it. Through a rigorous examination of the market, we mapped the potential total available market and determined – through state credentialing and incentive programs – the serviceable available market. Finally, we identified our obtainable market based on a combination of enrollment data and advertising reach goals. This would allow us to create realistic advertising goals based on budget.

To build awareness, we focused on display and LinkedIn advertising. Display advertising gave us the opportunity to reach prospective students through topical and in-market targeting, while LinkedIn was used to target job titles and years of experience. As our campaign evolved, we launched a robust PPC campaign and a LinkedIn Message ads campaign to capture demand. While a short-term effort for the College, we help our college partners establish advertising benchmarks, build a marketing funnel and launch their first successful lead generation campaign.


The Results

Not only were we able to establish key advertising benchmarks, we shattered a few industry benchmarks within the category. Our LinkedIn sponsored ad achieved a 1.07% click-through rate, well above the industry average of 0.65%. Our Message ads achieved a 44% open rate and a 3.86% click-through rate – both metrics beating industry benchmarks. These achievements created the foundation necessary to drive enrollment growth.


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