Evergreen campaigns are a valuable advertising tactic because you can run them year-round for a reasonable budget. They can increase brand awareness and recognition in certain areas or markets over time, and drive results throughout their life cycle. While some of these campaigns may not start out as lead generators, they often evolve into advertising golden tickets — if you allow them to run long enough to gain traction (and if you’re optimizing them appropriately as you learn more about your audiences and the market’s shifts).

This article is the first in a three-part series on how to incorporate evergreen media campaigns into your admissions marketing strategy.

With evergreen campaigns, you can collect data, optimize ad performance, test messages, and see what audiences respond to, all of which help inform future ad sprints or specified campaigns. Because these campaigns provide insights to user behavior in the advertising space, they typically measure success by these metrics: 

  • Reach: How many individual people are seeing the ads
  • Impressions: How many times overall the ad has been seen 
  • Frequency: How many times the ad has been seen by a single user
  • Engagement: Includes metrics like clicks, click-through rate, views, view-through rate, and video completion rate

Below we’ve gathered five key reasons you should consider running at least one evergreen campaign as part of your admissions marketing strategy. Each of these is rooted in developing a stronger, more recognized brand on your digital channels over time.

1. You can create compounded value on key media channels. 

This is the single most important reason to run an evergreen campaign — because the more consistently you leave an asset in the market, the more traction it gets over time. This builds awareness in the areas where the ad is placed and drives traffic to your site. If the ads are placed on social media outlets, the accumulated clout provides proof to new viewers. And for channels like Google Search, a history of high click-through rates increases the likelihood that your ad will be shown and that it’s a credible source for users. Evergreen campaign assets are built to add value and drive results throughout their life cycle, without the volatility of seasonal advertising.

2. You can develop consistency on your media channels for your key audiences.

Higher education goes notoriously silent during specific months of the year (think advertising during summer). But May and June make up one of the most exciting times for rising seniors, who are now just 12 months away from becoming first-year college students. If your institution turns off ads during this critical time frame, you lose the opportunity to gain frequency and traction with an audience who is excited and ready to receive messaging about becoming a college student.

Frequency is one of the keys to the kingdom within digital advertising. It can take users 14 to 21 exposures before they truly recognize an ad’s content or remember the brand name, based on augmentation of the traditional rule of 7 marketing philosophy and current digital media frequency benchmarks. By staying in the market consistently throughout the year, you create frequency for your intended audiences more quickly and your brand gets to “top of mind” sooner. On the other hand, if you create breaks throughout the year, you lower the rate at which your ads are seen, which makes your school’s brand less memorable during a key decision-making time.

 

“Frequency is one of the keys to the kingdom within digital advertising. It can take users 14 to 21 exposures before they truly recognize an ad’s content or remember the brand name.”

 

For instance: It’s August, and your next admissions campaign is about to launch. If you’re looking to gain more requests for information, but you’ve been quiet in the market, you’ll need to spend more to get in front of your audiences faster — think of it as a convenience fee. Now compare this to the scenario with an evergreen campaign: prospective applicants and their influencers have seen messaging from you for the last three months, and they’re already aware of your brand as an option. As a result, users are more likely to take the action of requesting information on a first or second impression, because they already recognize your brand.

3. You can save on advertising costs by investing throughout the year instead of doing large campaign sprints.

It costs more to acquire new audiences than it does to reach current ones. When you run evergreen campaigns, you gain valuable data and insights, and you grow your audience pool intentionally and incrementally. This data allows you to learn about your key audiences consistently over time: what they respond to, when they’re most active, and where they spend the most time. In the long run, these insights allow you to run more pointed campaigns at a lower cost, because you have data to support new ad strategies, and you can ultimately receive a higher ROI on future campaigns.

4. You can build a competitive advantage over your peers by staying in the market when they go silent.

Evergreen campaigns allow your brand to stay in front of key audiences when other institutions are not. And by planning to keep ad placements live during slower seasons, you also reduce your cost to advertise during these periods, because there’s less competition. This creates more exposure for you at a lesser rate, while increasing your frequency to key audiences. And come August (for example), the individuals who have seen your ads all summer will be more likely to notice any additional messages that you promote. Staying in the market all year long gives your brand a competitive edge and better recognition in the digital space, compared with peers who don’t stay in the market consistently.

 

“Evergreen campaigns allow your brand to stay in front of key audiences when other institutions are not.”

 

5. You can conduct research to better understand your key advertising audiences and market behavior.

When you’re determining “what campaigns performed best,” timing matters. It’s not helpful to compare an admissions campaign that runs from August to December, with one that runs from January to May. These are very different parts of the admissions cycle, with different levels of urgency for incoming students. In order to test messages and to measure brand affinity and growth in specific areas, it’s important to have consistent year-over-year data that truly compares apples to apples.

Here’s one of the beautiful things about advertising in higher education: although the individual people in the market change each year, the cycle stays the same. Rising seniors continually need assistance with comparing schools, finding the right fit, and looking for scholarships, and they typically do research and make decisions around the same time annually. By keeping consistent data and measuring responses to advertising, you can more keenly pick up nuances from year to year, and you can better understand changes in your audiences and key markets. Collecting your own data regularly will enable your marketing teams to test messages and content, to find what best resonates with your different audiences. And this will inevitably make your overall admissions media strategy stronger and more efficient.

Recap: The five reasons you should start running an evergreen admissions media campaign. 

1. Create compounded value on key media channels.
2. Develop consistency on your media channels for your key audiences.
3. Save on advertising costs by investing throughout the year instead of doing large campaign sprints.
4. Build a competitive advantage over your peers by staying in the market when they go silent.
5. Conduct research to better understand your key advertising audiences and market behavior.