FRWD was recently invited to speak at the LinkedIn Education Connect conference with our client, Carlson School of Management.  Education Connect is an all-day conference in New York that brings 300 marketers that are accountable for driving new students enrollment. 

The emphasis of the conference was on measurement and ROI.  Most marketers still struggle to define their student personas, the student journey, and the correct messaging they need at each stage of their journey, let alone be able to measure true ROI on their activities.  A tech stack that measures full-funnel ROI is an emerging capability that will evolve over the next few years.  In the meantime, it’s important to connect all levels of your ad stack with your CRM to measure and track where leads come from and how they engage with you at each step of their journey.

One of the most important topics was about how schools build and maintain strong partnerships with their agencies – and what the output of that collaborative approach creates. FRWD firmly believes that there are 4 pillars to creating a successful agency partnership:

Unfortunately, many agencies operate as vendors rather than partners and become focused solely on the job they were hired to do; most commonly driving top-of-funnel awareness and interest.  The difference between an agency partner is that they become engrained in the full-funnel effect of their efforts.  There is just as much attention paid to the long-term result of their marketing as the short-term.  Here is how that view looks to an agency vendor vs and agency partner:

Throughout the three years of working with Carlson School of Management, we’ve worked hard to break through silos and connect multiple teams to the marketing and lead nurture process.  As a result, we’ve aligned on a full funnel approach where admissions and programs support marketing and vice versa.  The outcome of this connection is a mutual understanding that the student journey is not a linear path.  We must provide the content prospects need at their point in the decision-making process to be successful.  To accomplish this, we create and promote messaging to our student prospects dependent on where they are in their journey.

To improve or begin a relationship with an agency that will create a partnership, I recommend the following 5 tips:

  1. Ask difficult questions that matter.  Not questions to get answers that are nice-to-know. Get answers that create action.
  2. Involve key leaders in big-picture planning. Break down silos to get sales, IT, and product teams together.
  3. Meet in-person, regularly.  This includes agency teams and all members on the client side to keep those silos broken down.
  4. Dream together.  Long-term goals drive short-term focus.
  5. Celebrate success & failure. To grow, you must try new things.  Trying new things can lead to failure and the learning should be celebrated just as much as finding a new win.