Colleges and Universities: We Need More Focus on Marketing Metrics

First a brag: My Temple University advertising students won the Gold Collegiate ECHO — earning First Place out of 200 teams from over 30 colleges and universities. The challenge was to increase referrals for DirecTV among the existing subscriber base.

First a brag: My Temple University advertising students won the Gold Collegiate ECHO — earning First Place out of 200 teams from over 30 colleges and universities. The challenge was to increase referrals for DirecTV among the existing subscriber base.

The most telling comments from DirecTV on the winning entry:

  • “… clear understanding of the way campaigns should be analyzed, from not only response rates but offer costs and CPAs”
  • “One of the few undergrad teams with strong principles of Direct Response Marketing”

Today’s advertising and marketing students are digital natives. And while they intuitively understand digital marketing, and are even schooled in its mechanics, most don’t understand the basic metrics of acquisition cost and lifetime customer value, the key components of ROI. The Internet is a direct response medium — consumers buy things there. And with increasing proportions of marketing budgets being spent online, it’s important that colleges and universities prepare students to understand how to optimize online marketing.

According to a 2014 Gartner survey, “Digital marketing spending averaged one-quarter of the marketing budget in 2014.” Survey respondents were 315 individuals located in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. who represent organizations with more than $500 million in annual revenue across six industries: financial services, high-tech, manufacturing, media, retail and transportation, and hospitality. The survey found that “of the 51 percent of companies who plan to increase their digital marketing budget in 2015, the average increase will be 17 percent.”

But most undergraduate advertising programs focus more on traditional awareness advertising rather than response-driven advertising and the metrics that make it work. As a result, advertising students graduate without a knowledge of the key tools that will help them succeed in the in the digital marketing world.

The most gratifying part of participating in the Collegiate ECHO competition for me was seeing the students embrace direct marketing principles, like test design and acquisition cost: concepts that aren’t normally covered in traditional advertising programs. That’s one of the great things about the Collegiate ECHO competition; it provides the opportunity for students to learn these principles and apply them to a real client. By sponsoring this competition, MarketingEDGE is helping to promote education in the basic principles of direct, digital and relationship marketing — principles that will prepare students for success.

Finally, a shout-out to the winning Temple team: Bridget Doyle, Tatiana Drye, Kaitlin O’Connell and Kia Street. It was an honor for me to work with such a talented group of students. They earned the Gold with their dedication, hard work and persistence.