Effective Advertising Strategies for Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs By: Jillian Purner Department: UF Flexible Learning
Abstract Online learning is becoming a more prominent method for students of all ages to expand their knowledge, acquire transferable skills, and earn credit, degrees and other credentials. Because of the increasing importance of online education, my research is focused on discovering which advertising strategies are most effective in attracti for a specific form of online education, N on Degree Single Course Online C ollege Programs. The paper first compares online advertisements for various types of college programs including Traditional On Campus, Online, and Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs to get a holistic scope of the general online marketing landscape for higher education. Then, online advertising efforts currently being undertaken by institutional leaders that have successful Non Degree Si ngle Course College Programs are studied at depth Prior academic research in the fields of marketing and education are then cited and discussed to add validity to the analysis. Ideas regarding persuasive, inspirational, and informative ads are compared. I n addition, theories regarding brand reputation and market segmentation are discussed. Finally, an experiment utilizing Facebook Ad Manager is undertaken to test different styles of ad messaging and imagery. The overall conclusion of the experiment is tha t inspirational advertisements are the most effective form of online advertising for Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs.
Introduction The focus of this paper is to study the marketing of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs, but in order to better understand this p rogram type it is best to first view higher education he focus of this first section is to examine three types of programs in higher education : Traditional On Campus, Online, and Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs. All program types utilize online advertising strategies to share their message and attract the attention of prospective students. In this section, I will present the online advertisements presen ted by the three respective program types and how their messaging, general themes, and imagery compare This analysis will give a holistic view of the higher education landscape and allow the conclusions about Non Degree Online Single Course College Progra ms found later in the paper to be better understood. The advertising approaches taken by Traditional On Campus, Online, and Non Degree Online Single Course College Programs are unique. My research of this landscape has found that t he Traditional On Campus advertisements first and foremost focus on the rankings of the university. These stats are important to prospective students as verified by American Freshman Report which reveals that the primary university selection cr iteria is jobs (Eagan) The Traditional On Campus advertisements definitely hone in on these ratings the most compared to the other program types. In addition Traditional On Campus advertisements uniquely use the university mascot in most of to audience members who are interested in attending the university property and getting involved with the social scene across campus. Specific program and indiv idual student achievements are also highlighted in these advertisements in an attempt to make the prospective student envision themselves being successful at the university. This phenomena was researched in the jour nal in which Maringe Felix, of University of Southampton concluded I ssues of institutio nal prominence maintain a fairly high profile in students' decision importance is the overall reputation of the inst Similar to the Traditional On Campus advertisements, the Online Program advertisements also highlight program success by sharing ranking s. In addition, the Online Program a dvertisements take an informative approach by posting details about program stats and tips for online learners. Motivational advertis ements linked to graduation are the most prevalent in the Online P rogram section. These a ds show prospective students that gra duation is in sight and inspire online students to keep going. This extra boost of motivation is probably especially important for an ise ments also uniquely address different student demographic grou ps. For example, an entire ad i s dedicated to debunking myths about adult students returning to school. Out of all the program types, the Non Degree S ingle Course Online College Program has th e most informative ads. These informative ads are especially critical for this program type as many advert isements, these ads also spark motivation by sharing tips for success and program features that will help students on the road to victory Additionally, these advertisements exclusively
focus on specific courses. Again, this is an especially important approach since these programs are selling a specific cour se an d not a degree Later in this paper four universities that offer Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs will be examined and compared Those universities are: University of Florida, University of Texas at Austin, Louisiana State University, and University of Wisconsin
Traditional On Campus Advertisements Figure 1 1 Figure 1 2 Figure 1 3 Figures 1 1 1 2 and 1 3 represent advertisements that expound upon university wide accomplishments. These advertisements cite high rankings in various academic standards granted by reput able sources such as The New York prospective students see these ads they will most likely be attracted to the institution and feel that they can trust the university to provide them with a solid education.
Figure 1 4 Figure 1 5 Figure 1 6 Figure 1 4 represents a specific program achievement attained by the University of Texas A achievements with pop culture, further prospective audience. The ad utilizes the power of social media by creating a fun, interesti ng piece of information that UT Austin students and alumnae can share with non UT family and friends who could potentially turn into new UT Austin students. Figure 1 5 proclaims the a cademic accomplishments of the p hysics research department at LSU. Thi s ad will be specifically impactful on students who are inter ested in studying physics, who may or may not know edge physics department Unlike Figure 1 4, this ad is directly targeting the prospective student audience, not the current LSU student body/ alumnae network. Figure 1 6 similar to 1 4 and 1 5 represents another program achievement. In this case, University of Wisconsin is congratulating their Higher Education Administration team. This is a persuasive piece of information for any student interested in attending the University of Wisconsin.
Figure 1 7 Figure 1 8 Figure 1 9 Figure 1 10 Figures 1 7 1 8 1 9 and 1 10 all represent university mascots. These images are the brands associated with each university. The power of university branding is strong. Most people can identify a university based upon the mascot even i university This type of advertising and branding is especially important for Tradition O n Campus programs, as much of the campus life is connected to specific mascot imagery.
Figure 1 11 Figure 1 12 Figure 1 13 These advertisements all focus on current and previous student achievements. For example, Figure 1 11 is targeted to the newest students getting ready to join the University of Florida in the fall. This is an interactive advertisement as students get to apply the effect to their own photos and post them to their Facebook pages. Similar, to Figu re 1 4 this ad harnesses the po wer of social media by spreading the awareness of UF. Figure 1 12 focuses on a specific student story and how they are making the most of their University of Texas experience. This ad should be encouraging for prospective students as they look for a university that they can grow and develop with. Figure 1 13 focuses on an LSU alumna who has accomplished much since her graduation from LSU. This ad shows the audience that LSU grads go far and encourages them that they can d o the same if they attend LSU.
Online Program Advertisements Figure 2 1 Figure 2 2 Figure 2 3 Similar to some of the Traditional On Campus advertisements, Figure 2 1 presents the program achievements awarded to UF Online. This ad portrays the fact that the Online Program is growing successfully based on high rankings from a trusted source US News. Figure 2 2 shows prospective online students miss out on social activities. The ad sends the message that even online students can connect with fellow students and take part in sports viewing. Figure 2 3 represents a unique marketing feature of o nline programs. When one first goes to the Facebook online program a pop up box, similar to the one pictured, is displayed. This feature is not only informative, but also comforting for prospective online students as they are support from a distance.
Figure 2 4 Figure 2 5 Figure 2 6 Figures 2 4 2 5 and 2 6 represent informative advertisements that provide the audience with program. They ease the minds of prospective students by showing that other students, in similar situations as the prospective student, are succe ssfully completing the online programs, even though these programs are a non traditional form of education. For example, Figure 2 4 gives a link to all the LSU Online Programs and features a specific certification. Figure 2 5 features an infographic about the UF Online Program, providing students with information such as the student to advisor ratio. Figure 2 6 sets up prospective and current online learners up for success by delivering a list of tips.
Figure 2 7 Figure 2 8 Figure 2 9 F igures 2 7 2 8 and 2 9 present motivational advertisements that speak to different prospective student groups. Figure 2 7 speaks to both enrolled and prospective students. The ad encourages both groups that graduation is in reach and that numerous online students have already attained this accomplishment. Figure 2 8 mainly is directed to perspective students who are ready to make the move uote is very effective due to the power of inspirational advertising, which will be explored later in this paper. Finally, Figure 2 9 is directly targeted towards adult students. This ad addresses the concerns these students may have about returning to s chool and encourages them to reconsider these myths.
, Figures 2 10 2 11 and 2 12 are promotional advertisements that generate interest in specific courses offered by online programs. For example, Figure 2 10 presents an ad targeted towards geology, geography, and environmental management majors. Figure 2 12 is more general and targets all prospective online students. Both Figures 2 10 and 2 12 promote webinar sessions for students to learn more about the prog ram. Figure 2 11 represents a unique way for the university to connect with online students. A hybrid lab classes. This ad generates interest and awareness from all angles. Students participating in the cha llenge will learn something about the program and winners will receive a UW Online Program t shirt which, when worn, will further promote the program. Figure 2 10 Figure 2 11 Figure 2 12
Non Degree Single Course College Program Advertisements Figure 3 1 Figure 3 2 Figure 3 3 Figures 3 1 3 2 and 3 3 represent various ways that universi ties inform the audience about Non Degree Single C ourse Online College P rograms. These ads present characteristics of the program Figure 3 1 ), the ( Figure 3 2 Figure 3 2 Figure 3 3 ).
Figures 3 4 3 5 and 3 6 present course specific ads. The advertisements in Figures 3 4 and 3 5 describe the course in detail. In addition, Figure 3 5 provides information about students excel in their courses. The ad in Figure 3 6 takes a different approach by just providing a short, call to action. Figure 3 4 Figur e 3 5 Figure 3 6
Figures 3 7 3 8 and 3 9 are all motivational advertisements. Figure 3 7 provides an encouraging way to start of the week and inspires the student to prepare themselves for their coursework. Figure 3 8 not only motivates, but also informs students about the interaction they will have with professors and advisors even though they are taking their courses from a distance. Figure 3 9 is an encouraging message to current and prospe ctive students regarding the payoffs of success. Figure 3 7 Figure 3 8 Figure 3 9
An Introduction to Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs The remainder of m y research is focused only on the Non D egr ee Single C ourse Online College P rograms and how they fit into the digital marketing lands cape for H igher Education solutions Specifically, I will observe how four premiere universities attract a nd inform students about their Non D egree Single C ourse Online College P rograms through their marketing efforts. The four universities I have selected are: University of Florida, University of Texas, Louisiana State University, and University of Wisconsin I have further narrowed my focus to only consider their use of Facebook and their individua l program websites student can take any course, starting at any time, and they can work at their individual pace. Most courses must be completed within a cert ain period of time usual ly spanning between 16 to 52 weeks but the student can choose to work much faster if they desire. Official admission to the university is not required and in most cases, official transcripts are provided after completion of the cou rse so the credit can be easily transferred to other institutions. These individual courses are perfect for 1) current college students, enrolled in any university s (UF Flexible Learning) They are also very beneficial for 2) individuals who are seeking to return to college to complete the degree they started long ago. The final group is made up of 3) individuals who seek to increase their knowledge of a particular su bject with no inte rest in pursuing a degree. Non Degree Single C ourse Online College P rograms uniquely satisfy the needs of all three groups.
Non Degree Single Course Online College University of Florida 1 Program Name: Flexible Learning # of Courses : 43 Enrollment: Open Time for completion: 16 weeks Transcript: Available Tuition In S tate: $212.71 per credit hour Tuition Out of State: $248.07 per credit hour University of Texas at Austin 2 Program Name: University Extension # of Courses: 37 Enrollment: Open Time for completion: 5 months Transcript: Available Tuition In State : $850 per course Tuition Out of State: $850 per course Louisiana State University 3 Program Name: Online Distance Learning # of Courses: 100 1 http://flexible.dce.ufl.edu/ 2 https://extension.utexas.edu/ 3 http://www.outreach.lsu.edu/Distance Learning/Online Distance Learning
Enrollment: Open Time for completion: 6 months Transcript: Available Tuition In State : $ 184 per credit hour Tuition Out of State: $184 per credit hour University of Wisconsin 4 Program Name: Independent Learning # of Courses: 100 Enrollment: Open Time for completion: 12 months Transcript: Available Tuition In State : $ 981 per course Tuition Out of State: $981 per course 4 https://il.wisconsin.edu/
Figure 4 1 Figure 4 2 Figure 4 3 Figures 4 1 4 2 and 4 3 from UF Flexible Learning are all focused on helping students get the most out of their Non Degree Single Course Online College Program experience. These ads can be helpful for students who are already in the program, as well as students who are considering using the program. For current students, the information presented in the ads can be useful as they study and attempt to effectively manage their time. For prospective students, the ads can be persuas ive because the information presented makes online learning look feasible. These simple tips can easily turn a questioning student into an active online learner. Figure 4 1 has the most direct call to action Figures 4 2 and 4 3 actions, they still present an indirect promotion of Flexible Learning. Prospective students who see these ads will most likely be happy to receive the unexpected study tips and will trust UF Flexible Learni ng to be a suitable educator since they have already demonstrated their ability to go above and beyond through their advertisements. Non Degree Single Course Online College University of Florida Flexible Learning
Figure 4 4 Figure 4 5 Figures 4 4 and 4 5 e wants students to know that this program is specifically designed for completing these basic requirements. Figure 4 5 illuminates this point by showing that Flexible the student efficiently progress their education so that they can get to the classes in their major more quickly. The i nfographic in Figure 4 4 makes the entire process of taking a Flexible Learning course digestible and easy to understand, causing students to easily be persuaded to start classes soon.
Figure 4 6 Figure 4 7 Figures 4 6 and 4 7 advertisements. These ads succinctly describe the course material, the reason for taking the class, and a call to action. Again, t quickly so that students can focus on their major.
The University of Texas at Austin University Extension Figure 5 1 Figure 5 2 Figure 5 3 Figures 5 1 5 2 and 5 3 University Extension Program all focus on helping This idea is seen in each of these ads. Another key our Figures 5 2 and 5 3 specifically address this issue. Figure 5 2 even highlights some selected courses in the carousel portion of the ad. As summarized by the phrase on Figure 5 1 these ads are all geared towards students who want to finish their degree in four years because positioning themselves as the program that can help students most efficiently arrange their schedule so the dream of finishing in a timely manner can become a reality.
Figure 5 4 Similar to Figures 4 1 4 2 and 4 3 from UF Flexible Learning, this ad shares a relevant tip for both current and prospective students. The ad is lacking a call to action, but it still is indirectly promoting the University Extension Program. However, this ad is only speaking to a very limi ted audience California who was using the University Extension Program to take some courses. The conclusion is th at University Extension is targeting on campus students from UT Austin.
Figure 5 5 Figure 5 6 Figures 5 5 and 5 6 present course specific ads from the University Extension Program. The hashtags used in Figure 5 5 are a unique way of connecting with the prospective audience and capturing their attention. Figure 5 6 presents several courses all within the business discipline. This is an extremely helpful ad for a student who was specifically interested in brushing up on their business skills.
Louisiana State University Online Distance Learning F igure 6 1 F igure 6 2 Figures 6 1 and 6 2 present interesting Learning program that could be informative to potential students. For example, Figure 6 1 notifies the audience that the Online Distance Learning program is not just for in state students. In fact, the program is designed for and utilized by many out of state students. This information can make prospective students feel more comfortable with t heir decision to take courses from LSU even though they are out of state. Figure 6 2 praises the course development staff for the newly released courses, but also indirectly promotes the Online Distance Learning program. Prospective students who see this ad will more than likely be impressed and want to check out what the program has to offer.
Figure 6 3 Figure 6 4 Figures 6 3 and 6 4 Distance Learning program. Out of all the course specific ads, these are probably the least e ye will probably be less effective than the course specific ads presented by other universities. However, the text of the ad gets the point across and highlights the fact that the course
University of Wisconsin Independent Learning Figure 7 1 Figure 7 2 Figures 7 1 and 7 2 represent the program specific ads offered by UW Independent Learning. Both ads indicate that Independent Learning offers around 100 courses. Figure 7 1 combination of those two phrases would be attractive to students who were facing difficult courses and wanted to take the class in a setting that was less nerve wracking and more tense free. Figure 7 2 reminds prospective students that they can start their courses at any time, a common theme across all Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs. The use of the ellipses in Figure 7 2 after the be intrigued enough to click on the ad and see the list of course offerings.
Figure 7 3 Figure 7 5 Figure 7 4 These inviting course specific ads present just Independent Learning program. Not only does Independent Learning promote purely academic classes such as in Figure 7 4 but they also present ads for fun, elective st yle courses such as in Figures 7 3 and 7 5 This collection of ads reaches a vast audience and can suit many specific needs. The ads also portray important information about the Independent Learning program. For example, in Figure 7 5 tuition options are presented for full time UW students. In Figure 7 4 the idea
There are several similarities and difference s between the various Facebook advertisements delivered by the individual universities. Each school demonstrated their progra but all of them pr esented the central message of Non Degree Single C ourse Online College P rograms: The ability to take required college classes online, anytime, from any location. The magic of Non Degree Single C ourse Online College P rogram s comes when the advantages of the program are tied to the availability of the courses. All the universities portrayed this message through their advertisements. In addition, all the universities used similar adverti si ng formats including course specific a nd program specific ads. However, there were distinct differences in the advertisements that made each university stand apart from the others. University of Florida honed in on the fact that Flexible Learning offered Gen Ed courses that could help students advance to their major as efficiently as possible. University of Texas at Austin stressed the idea degree in four years. Louisiana State University emphasized that Online Distance Learning Courses are encouraged to be taken from any location, even out of state. Finally, University of Wisconsin showed that Independent Learning courses could range from topics such as Physics to French and everything in between, all of which are presented at a less stressful pace. The differences that are seen across the individual messaging styles point to the exclusive strengths of each program. I did observe that some key discriminators are missing from these ads. First a major component of Non Degree Single C ourse Online College P rograms is the final transcript combined with the e of the ads mentioned some the courses. None of the universities seemed to want to mention the cost savings that st udents can experience by taking Non Degree Single C ourse Online College P rograms Maybe the omission of cost from the ads is a strategic decision rather than an oversight because once cost is introduced price wars begin and all the universities would begin their race to the bottom.
Marketing Theory and Academic Analysis Advertising can take many different forms as seen through the university marketing figures. There are some key differences among the numerous advertising strategies as well as determinations made from marketing theories that can vary the effectiveness of the overall campaign. To begin, there are major differences between informative, in spirational and persuasive ads. All three are seen in th informative social media marketing content is more effective in hi gh involvement defined by Zaichkowsky (qtd. in Figures 2 5, 2 10, 2 12, 3 2, 4 5 are all great examples of informative advertising content. They provide opportunities for prospective students to learn more about the nature of the program, along with information about upcoming events, such as webinars in which students can gather even more knowledge about the programs. The succinct language used in Figure 3 2 quickly translates the Convenient UEX Courses are open for registration. Fill the gaps in your schedule and sta y on track to graduate in four These examples fulfill the qualifications of informative ads. The content of all the ads td. in Fei Wan). The fact that informative ads are the most effective type of advertising for generating sales is valuable knowledge and should guide universities as they set up their advertising efforts. Not only are informative ads productive for increas the example advertisements presented in this paper are informative in na ture. In addition to informative ads, there are also inspirational ads. As stated by Bttger in his journal inspiration includes the transition from the state of bei ng inspired by an external factor, to a state of being inspired a new idea This is the goal of all advertisers within the higher education space. They want to take prospective students from a place of being inspired to a point of acing upon that inspiration. Figures 1 12 and 2 7 both demonstrate inspirational ads. Both ads shar e a success s tory either of one individual (in the case of Figure 1 12 ) or of a group of individuals (in the case of Figure 2 7 ). This success story is intended to induce the state of inspiration and then cause students to be motivate d and take action, wh ether that means applying for the program, registering for new courses, etc. Through his research, Bttger that customer inspiration correlates with attitudinal consequences such as loyalty and This is an important point for university program advertisers to digest. Not only is it important to create informative content in order to generate revenue, but also inspirational content that will increase brand loyalty and repeat purchases (advanced degree programs, more non degree c ourses, etc.) Persuasive advertising is the last form of marketing that is visualized. content and promotional content are more sales effective for low
methods. As stated by Armstrong, Berger & Milkman, and Nan & Faber (qtd. in Fei Wan): understanding of the nature and functions of product but need to be convinced for the benefits of the Combining persuasive ads with informative and inspirational ads could be an impactful str ategy. The informative ads make prospective students aware of the program and generate potential sales. The inspirational ads induce brand loyalty and then the persuasive ads reinforce the messages provided by previous advertising and entice audience membe rs by sharing benefits of the program not features. Figure 5 5 is an example of a persuasive advertisement. In this ad, the highlights that the university offers un ique courses that are distinguishable from other Non Degree Single C ourse Online College P rograms the supporting informative ads that were previously discussed Another theory that is important to highlight is the concept of branding and imagery. Brand images can be distinctly seen in Figures 1 7 through 1 10 Each of these ads purely focuses on a altered in some way t Rodriguez, Khogeer and Aggarwal & McGill (qtd. in Bennet). Not only do these mascots instantly identify the university that is providing the ad, but they also begin to build rapport with stude often form emotionally rich interpersonal relationships with anthropomorphic mascots that influence brand relationships, choice, and loyalty ional ads, the use of brand mascots increases loyalty and could be campaigns. groups or individuals and then evaluated as to whether they were meant to promote affiliation (i.e., people like you), aspiration (i.e., success), or instruct ion (i.e., classroom settings, are shown throughout the various ad examples. There are images of students, staff members, and inspirational statements. According to B ttger I magery pr o cessing may foster inspiration, thus encouraging firms to use engaging imagery advertising strategy. As the adage Basfir inci & Cilingir and Chandler & Schwarz (qtd. in Bennet) in their research on brand rovided in is attached. advertisement will go viral and be seen by many in a positive light As evidenced in B ttger online content that evoked high arousal emotions was more viral, regardless of
whether those emotions were of a positive (i.e., awe) or negative (i.e., anger or anxiety) nature Imagery and br and mascots can be used to produce positive, high arousal emotions of awe and inspiration. Finally, the co ncept of market segmentation can affect advertising strategies. Market segmentation is defined as way a company decides to group customer s based on important Hill). Different program types have individualized business models that advertisers need to adhere to in order to be successful. For example, the prospective stude nt for a Traditional On C ampus program may be in a different demographic with unique needs compared to the perspective student for a Non Degree Single C ourse Online College Program The strategy that the institution decides to employ via its advertising must be tailored to these distinctive situations. Rovai and Downey leadership strategies focused on out pricing the competition; (2) differentiation strategies focused o n the uniqueness of the program; and (3) focus strategies that meet the needs of a particular type For example, Figure 2 9 is a great example of an advertisement that follows a market segmentation approach, specially a focus strategy. The ad is targeted towards adults who may have fears about returning to their college education. Rovai and Downey (qtd. in McMurty) also identi enhancement learners, degree completion adult learners, college experience learners (the traditional student), precollege (K 12) learners, remediation and test preparation learners, and marketing team to identify their audience, recognize advertising campaign that speaks to those needs. Based on these marketing notions, it can be suggested that universities marketing a ny program type, whether it be Traditional On C ampus, O nline, or Non Degree Single C ourse Online College Programs should have a mix of advertisements including informative, inspirational, and persuasive in their marketing campaigns. In addition, the inclusion of brand mascots and imagery can be effective in attracting the attention of p rospective students. Lastly, a market segmentation strategy should be followed in order to most effectively promote the program to the right audience.
A Discussion of Brand Reputation As noted earlier, s for Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs have messaging that relates to university reputation or ranking. The noteworthy omission of this detail within the advertisements is worth analyzing further. The four universities studied: University of Florida, University of Texas at Austin, Louisiana State University, and University of Wisconsin should not be ashamed in proclaiming their school rankings within their advertisements. University of Florida is ranked in the Top 10 Public Schoo ls (#9). University of Wisconsin and University of Texas at Austin are in the Top 20 ( #12 and #18 respectively ). Louisiana State University also ranks high on the Top Public Schools rating #63 (U.S. News College) he Non Degree Single accolades the universities have earned. This is an especially crucial factor to note after taking in the facts found in The American Freshmen Rep ort and from the academic research discussed above such as the importance of informative advertising for generating sales. other programs. For example, Figur es 1 1 1 2 and 1 3 (advertisements for Traditional On Campus programs) primarily focus on these rankings. In addition, Figure 2 1 showcases an advertisement for an online program that solely relies upon the ranking of the program to sell prospective stu once in the section for example advertisements of Non Degree Single Co urse Online College Programs I believe this presents a great opportunity for the marketing of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs. The reputation of the university needs to be leveraged, especially when the university is highly regarded such as the universities being stud ied in this paper. The power of branding, as discussed earlier, is enormous and marketers for these programs need to take advantage of that power. When rankings are discussed in the advertisement, the marketer can intertwine the benefits of informative adv ertising with the prestige of reputation. This mixture also offers a persuasive spin to the advertisement. Not only are prospective students informed an honorable un iversity. This type of advertisement gives prospective students a feature and a benefit wrapped into one causing countless emotions to be triggered when the audience sees the ad.
Based on the above observations, I believe it would be wise for the ma rketing departments of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs to branch i nto the style of messaging that promotes the rankings of the university in which the program is being offered at. This prestigious message can be woven into the framework of an informative, inspirational, or persuasive advertisement. Below a re some proto types of what these type s of advertisement s could look like: Figure 8 1: Informative Figure 8 2: Persuasive Figure 8 3: Inspirational
Experiment One To test the validity of including brand reputation in the messaging of advertisements for Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs, two experiments with various ads were run on Facebook via UF Flexible Learning. The first experiment tested the ads portrayed in Figures 8 1 8 2 and 8 3 The ads were run from March 19 th 2018 March 27 th 2018 and they were targeted towards college aged students across the country. The result that the ads were optimized for were link clicks. Ad Name Reach Impressions Link Clicks Cost per Click Click Through Rate Landing Page Views Page Engagement Post Engagement Informative (Figure 8 1) 4406 4800 29 $2.30 .9 18 34 34 Persuasive (Figure 8 2) 4226 4947 18 $3.69 .75 6 30 29 Inspirational (Figure 8 3) 4558 5559 8 $8.27 .45 3 21 20 reach for all three ads were very comparable, all within the low mid 4000s range. The inspirational ad had the most anager). However, the informative ad still got the most link clicks The cost per click for the informative ad was the overall winner. The inspirational ad had an al armingly high cost per click. This is most likely due to the low number of link clicks that this ad received. The informative and persuasive ads had impressive click through r ates as the average for ads from the education industry on Facebo ok is .73 (Irvine) Click through rate measures the ratio of total clicks to impressions. Therefore, the higher the click through rate, the better. times a person clicked on an ad very important metric as getting potential students to the landing page is one of the optimal goals of an advertising campaign for these program types. nu (Facebook Ads Manager) Again, the informative ad is leading in this metric as well as in the post engagement metric. Similar to hat people take involving (Facebook Ads Manager) The winning ad, as determined by Facebook for this experiment was the informative ad. This ad had the lowest cost per click, highest click through rate, largest number of link clicks and landi ng Table 1
page views, as well as the highest engagement level s compared to the other two ads. Interestingly, this is the only ad that contains a brand reputation statement in both the king is beneficial in getting the overarching message across to audience members.
Experiment Two In order to test the theory of brand reputation further, another ad set was designed and tested on Facebook. Figure 9 1: Informative Figure 9 2: Persuasive Figure 9 3: Inspirational
The im agery for all three new ads was kept exactly the same. However, the text commentary for the ads was changed compared to the first set. For the new informative ad, Figure 9 1 the wording was kept very similar, still honing in on the idea that UF is a Top 10 Public University. The new persuasive ad, Figure 9 2 eliminates requirements from just any experiment, it was Finally, the new inspirational ad, Figure 9 3 wording from the ad text. In Ed c inspirational ad. A s a result, the only new ad that touches upon brand reputation is the informative ad, Figure 9 1 which happened to be the most successful ad from the first experiment. Because the experiment was designed acco rdingly, the results were able to expand upon whether heavily relying upon brand reputation in the advertisements is a successful strategy. These ads were run from March 28 th 2018 April 2 nd 2018 and they were targeted towards college aged students ac ross the country. Identical to the first experiment, the result that the ads were optimized for were link clicks. Ad Name Reach Impressions Link Clicks Cost per Click Click Through Rate Landing Page Views Page Engagement Post Engagement Informative (Figure 9 1) 5152 7982 31 $2.11 .69 9 32 32 Persuasive (Figure 9 2) 5906 8906 41 $1.63 .8 8 43 42 Inspirational (Figure 9 3) 4420 5505 42 $1.59 .99 11 46 4 4 On average, the resu lts from Experiment T wo are much better than Experiment O ne. Reach, impressions, link clicks click through rate, landing page views, page engagement, and post engagement for this ad set were all higher on average than the results from the first ad set ru n in Experiment O ne. In addition, the average cost per click f or the ads in Experiment T wo are much lower. It can therefore be concluded that the messaging used in the a ds from this ad set were mo re effective than the ads from Experiment O ne. The inspirational ad, Figure 9 3 was the overall winner determined by Face book for this ad set The conclusion that can be made is that including brand reputation in the advertisement imagery and text might not be as effective as hypothesized. The inspirational ad fro m Experiment T academic rankings beat the informative ad from E xperiment Two which was the winning ad out ne. Below is the comparison of the two winning ads The informative ad, Figure 8 1 from experiment one, and the ins piration al ad, Figure 9 3 from Experiment T wo. Table 2
Ad Name Reach Impressions Link Clicks Cost per Click Click Through Rate Landing Page Views Page Engagement Post Engagement Informative (Figure 8 1) 4406 4800 29 $2.30 .9 18 34 34 Inspirational (Figure 9 3) 4420 5505 42 $1.59 .99 11 46 44 The two winning ads had very similar reaches, however the inspirational ad won in regards to impressions. The link clicks for the inspirational ad were much higher than the informative ad. As a result, the cost per click for the inspirational a d was significantly lower. Both click through rates were above average. The page and post engagements for the inspirational ad were higher alluding to the fact that the inspirational ad captivated the audie nce more successfully. Based on these results, it can be concluded that Figure 9 3 the second inspirational ad was the overarching winner from the two experiments. If an advertiser of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs wants to include brand reputation in their advertisements, the framework of Figure 8 1 seems to be the best. However, as seen based on the overall results of the experiments including this much information about brand reputation may not b e the best strategy for the university. The addition of brand reputation might be more beneficial for other program types, such as Traditional On Campus. Accordingly, references to brand reputation may be more beneficial for high involvement educational se rvices, such as Traditional On Campus or Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs. This idea can lay the groundwork for another experiment. Providers of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs therefore should focus their advertising efforts on inspirational advertisements that encourage students to Bttger ). In addition, it seems that providing imagery referring to gra duation and the theme of s uccess is the most captivating selling point for prospective students of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs Table 3
Experiment Analysis The experiments clearly unfolded that the inspirational advertisement, Figure 9 3 was the overall winner and should be the framework utilized by advertisers of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs. There are many theoretical reasons for why the inspirational ad should be the winner, proving the results of the exp eriment to be valid and coherent with these expectations First of all, the overarching reason that students use Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs needs to be considered before creating an effective advertisement These programs are mainly utilized by students to help them reach their academic goal of graduation. Students use the program to get credits to move ahead or catch up on their studies s o that they can graduate on time or possibly even early. Some of the ads previously showca sed from UF Flexible Learning and other Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs illustrate this idea. For example, Figures 3 2 and 4 5 hy students are using the service. The inspirational ad was the only ad in the experiment s that clearly focused on the idea of graduation and UF Flexible Learning being a program to help students make that dream a reality. T he inspirati onal ad hit upon the true reas on for being a college student (graduating with a meaningful degree), while the informational and persuasive ads focus ed merely on features o f the program (such as being offered by a Top 10 Public University and providing the flexibility to take the courses online, anytime), but not the real ultimate benefit of the program. S tudents have a sense of pride in their home university. Experiment Two had better results than Experiment One because of the recognition of this idea and how it relates to the marketing of Non Degree Single Course Online College P rograms. All of the ads in Experiment One focused on brand reputation more than any other feature of the program. When the messaging was altered in Experiment Two, the results were much better. This is because t he fact that UF is a Top 10 Degree Single Course Online College Program students. This is a foundational marketing concept. It is important to recognize why the prospective cus tomer want s to buy into a service. The fact that UF is a Top 10 Public University is a good point, but it is not the right feature for the marketing of this program to focus on. The ads for Non Degree Single Course Online College P persuade students to switch schools, but to help them re ach their goal of graduation through the transfer of credits back to their home university B ased on previously discussed marketing theory, inspirational ads transition from the state of ( Bttger ). W hereas informative and persuasive ads simply to factual data on the nature and functions of products or services that could reduce uncertain qtd. in Fei Wan ). Accordingly, inspirational ads are destined to be the overall winner in terms of getting audience members to take a certain action because this is what inspiration is inherently designed to do. The inspirational ad The point of inspirational ads is to inspire audience members as they see the ad and make them want to do something about their newfound inspiration right there and then. In contrast, informative ads have more of a building block e ffect. More than likely, when the audience sees an informative ad, they are connecting
more through the head than the heart, making their decision to act less rapid. This could be the underlying reason for the higher link clicks for the inspirationa l ad, and its ultimate marketing success Inspirational ads capture attention and provoke action all at once. The language used in the inspirational ad from Experiment Two covers all the important aspects of the program, creating another reason for why this ad was the overall winner. For instance, the inspirational ad : mentions graduation guarantees that classes can be taken , and reinforces the fact that credits can be transferred to the home university The informative ad only references brand reputation ( which again, may not be as effective as it seems because of t he nature of and reasons for using the program) and the fact that online, anytime ive ad only discusses the fact that Breaking down the me ssaging in each ad evidently distinguishes the inspirational ad above th e others. This ad touches upon four features of the pro gra m while the informative and persuasive ads only touch upon two. Because of the broader messaging, the inspirational ad most li kely reached a larger As Bttger magery processing may foster inspiration marketers choose the correct wording but also the most effective imagery The branding and imagery found in the inspirational ad is another reason why this ad was the most successful. As discussed earlier in the paper, imagery can have several different forms. According to Adams, the three inspirational ad is definitely in the aspirational category of imagery. Out of all the ads, the imagery in the inspirational ad is the most meaningful because it succinct ly represents an idea (graduation) that relates to and touches prospective students. The other two ads have imagery that directly falls into one of these categories, resulting in their lackluster performance compared to the inspirational ad. astounding to notice the significant performance improvement that the inspirational ad underwent between Experiment One and Experiment Two. The major component that was changed between the two versions of the ad was the messaging. The new inspirational ad Ed o dramatically because it truly is an all encompassing ad. It not only provides inspiration, but all pieces of information, combining the benefits of inspirational and informative advert ising all into this one adverti se me nt. In addition, the imagery of the inspirational ad better relates to the messaging in the new inspirational ad, compared to the first inspirational ad. Ultimately, this new messaging did an utterly effective job in communicating the value of UF Flexible Learning, while inspiring students with the imagery of graduation, resulting in the outstanding performance metrics compared to its results in Experiment One. In summary, the inspirational ad was the most effective form of advertising for Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs b ecause of its ability to most accurately identify and respond its fundamental nature (compared to informative and persuasive ads), and its on point messaging and imagery.
Conclusion Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs are becoming increasingly popular in the higher education industry. They allow students from various backgrounds and stages of life to continue their education for a variety of purposes. As more universities such as University of Florida, University of Texas at Austin, Louisiana State University, and University of Wisconsin begin to add Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs to their offerings, the need for effective advertising will become increasi ngly significant. The first major takeaway from this research is that Traditional On Campus, Online, and N on Degree Single Course Online College Programs have various methods for advertising. Each program type requires certain messaging and imagery in or der to engage and influence the audience members. In addition, it is important for advertisers to review the theories of informative, persuasive, and inspirational advertising. These three ad types all have their pros and cons so it is important that the u niversity understands what ad type would be most beneficial for the program they are advertising. Likewise, market segmentation also needs to be studied by university advertisers, especially for Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs. These progr ams meet the needs of a wide array of students, so it is crucial that advertisers s elect their segment wisely and target their ads towards this audience group. In regards, to Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs, the most beneficial advertisin g method seems to be the inspirational strategy. Alluding to themes such as success and graduation gets the attention of prospec tive students for this program and influences them to take the next step in learning more about the offering. There is much ro om for further study regarding the effective advertising strategies of Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs. Future research questions could include the study of what online platforms are most beneficial (Facebook vs. Instagram vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn, etc.). In addition, analyzing what demographic best responds to these advertisements could be interesting and beneficial for future ad campaigns. Similarly a research question studying whether prospective students respond better to advertisement s about the general program or specific courses could provide valuable information. Experimentation with other ad types, such as carousel and video ads could also be explored. In conclusion by utilizing and expanding upon the research conducted in this p aper, advertisers for Non Degree Single Course Online College Programs can build program awareness by creating effective ads that will be appealing and influential for prospective students.
Works Cited Adams, Jonathan1,2, Jonathan.Adams@comm.fsu.edu and Vicki3, Vicki.Eveland@comm.fsu.edu Eveland. "Marketing Online Degree Programs: How Do Traditional Residential Programs Compete?." Journal of Marketing for Higher Education vol. 17, no. 1, Jan. 2007, pp. 67 90. EBSCO host doi:10.1300/J050v17n01_06. Vancouver/ICMJE Bennett, David E.1 and Paula1 Thompson. "U se of Anthropomorphic Brand Mascots for Student Motivation and Engagement: A Promotional Case Study with Pablo the Penguin at the University of Portsmouth Library." New Review of Academic Librarianship vol. 22, no. 2/3, Apr Sep2016, pp. 225 237. EBSCO host doi:10.1080/13614533.2016.1162179. Bttger, Tim, et al. "Customer Inspiration: Conceptualization, Scale Development, and Validation." Journal of Marketing vol. 81, no. 6, Nov. 2017, pp. 116 131. EBSCO host lp.hscl.ufl.edu/login?url=http://search.ebsco host.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&A N=126087337&site=eds live. U.S. News & World Report U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/best colleges/rankings/national univers ities/top public. Eagan, Kevin, et al. The American Freshmen The American Freshmen Fei Wan, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com Fei Ren2. "The Effect of Firm Marketing Content on Product Sales: Evidence from a Mobile Social Media Platform ." Journal of Electronic Commerce Research vol. 18, no. 4, Nov. 2017, pp. 288 302. EBSCO host lp.hscl.ufl.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aci&A N=126781462&site=eds live. Felix, Maringe. "University and Course Choice : Implications for Positioning, Recruitment and Marketing." International Journal of Educational Management no. 6, 2006, p. 466. EBSCO host doi:10.1108/09513540610683711. Facebook Ads Manager www.facebook.com/business/help/200000840044554
Hill, Charles W. L., et al. Strategic management: an integrated approach Cengage Learning, 2017. WordStream 2 Apr. 2018, www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/02/28/facebook advertising benchmarks. McMurtry, Kim1,2, Km476@nova.edu. "Six Challenges Facing Late Adopters of Online Undergraduate Education." Journal of Applied Learning Technology vol. 2, no. 1, Jan. 2012, pp. 23 26. EBSCO host lp.hscl.ufl.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&A N=74697763&site=eds live. Vancouver/ICMJE UF Flexible Learning, flexible.dce.ufl.edu/students/.
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2 10 https://www.facebook.com/UFonline/ 2 11 https://www.facebook.com/UWCollegesOnl ine/ 2 12 https://www.facebook.com/UFonline/ 3 1 https://www.facebook.com/utaustin.uex/ 3 2 https://www.facebook.com/utaustin.uex/ 3 3 https://www.facebook.com/ilWisconsin/ 3 4 https://www.facebook.com/utaustin.uex/ 3 5 https://www.facebook.com/ufflex/ 3 6 https://www.facebook.com/lsudistance/ 3 7 https://www.faceboo k.com/utaustin.uex/ 3 8 https://www.facebook.com/ufflex/ 3 9 https://www.facebook.com/ufflex/ 4 1 4 7 ht tps://www.facebook.com/ufflex/ 5 1 5 6 https://www.facebook.com/utaustin.uex/ 6 1 6 4 https://www.facebook.com/lsudistance/ 7 1 7 5 https://www.facebook.com/ilWisconsin/