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Enrollment Marketing for Higher Education

The Ask

Every year thousands of students apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and only about 260 enroll. The Academy is highly selective and for good reason: not everyone is capable of successfully completing its rigorous program designed to educate, train, and inspire future commissioned officers of the Coast Guard. While justifiably proud of its student body, the Academy sought an applicant pool and class that more closely represents the geographic and ethnic diversity that is America today.

Our Approach

PS&L assessed the Academy’s web design to optimize it in terms of engagement, search, and conversion, and fully integrated the site with all the Academy’s other marketing and enrollment efforts.

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PS&L assessed the Academy’s web design.

PS&L assessed the Academy’s web design to optimize it in terms of engagement, search, and conversion, and fully integrated the site with all the Academy’s other marketing and enrollment efforts. Our philosophy is to not work on a website in a vacuum, but rather as part of a greater marketing plan.

The brand messaging and visual strategy for the Academy should be experienced in all collateral from campus banners, publications, digital campaigns, to enterprise websites.

Marketing Campaign

To increase inquiries and applications from Under Represented Minorities (URM), a recent enrollment campaign was developed. Another focus of the campaign was to increase URM applications to the Academy Introductory Mission (AIM), a weeklong summer visit for high school juniors.

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The campaign included a multimedia, multi-touch campaign featuring personalized direct mail, targeted email, and PURL website technology. The digital marketing tactics included: Google Display Network, geo-fencing, IP targeting, remarketing, and paid social media.

A 30-second ESPN spot received high industry praise and was viewed by a global following of the annual Secretaries’ Cup. A lively tradition of the Academy, this football game attracts fans from across the nation and across the world, including ships miles off shore.

The Results

A dynamic website we developed, uscga.edu, leveraged in-depth research on prospective and current user needs and institutional branding. Results include a lively cadet blogging community, which thousands of prospective cadets surveyed recommended and PS&L provided blogging training. A year after launching, the site was not only recognized with a 2018 Educational Advertising Award, but its performance is equally impressive: doubling returning visitors, dramatically reducing bounces, and increasing visits to key admissions pages.

PS&L recently produced a live, virtual academy experience program for newly admitted cadets. The hosted admitted student event featured dynamic video, various speakers from multiple locations, and opportunities for breakout conversations and engagement.

I have tears in my eyes watching our cadets! The videos produced by PS&L all garner the same response from Academy viewers — ‘Wow! That is really good!’ Makes us all feel proud! Thank you for your stellar work!

Susan Bibeau Executive Director of Marketing, United States Coast Guard Academy