banner ads for higher education

Over 70% of the higher education institutes find banner ads to be the most effective online ad type. This is followed by PPC ads on social media and cookie-driven remarketing ads. Take a look at the study conducted by Ruffalo Noel Levitz in 2017:

This trend isn’t new. In fact, revenue in the banner ad segment stands at US$53,670m in 2018 and is expected to grow annually (CAGR 2018-2022) at 9.6%, resulting in a market volume of US$77,434m by 2022. (Source: Statista)

Playbook for Ed-Tech Sales and Marketing [Free Download]

Now that we know that it works, it needs to be used, and more importantly, it needs to be used wisely. 30% of internet users say that they find traditional banner advertising annoying, a lot more than 30% don’t even pay attention to it. My experience in the last 13 years of marketing and design tells me the same thing – it’s not easy to do it well. The reason is simple – everyone is doing it. And when so many people doing it, it is difficult to stand out, while simultaneously appealing to the audience, instead of irritating them.

The Big Misconception

It is a misconception that most of the institutions have is that what looks good converts good. Although the look and feel is an important element of the banner ad, it’s nowhere near the most important one. What makes a banner ad for higher education successful, is a strong understanding of the student’s motivation and behavior.

Let’s look at a few of the banner ads from education institutes that are doing a good job of understanding their students’ motivations.

1. Douglas J Salons

Banner Advertising in higher education - Douglas J example

You can’t help but notice when someone looks at you – in real life, and in banner ads. That’s what makes this ad special. Douglas J captures the imagination of its audience with powerful imagery, cursive fonts and strong trigger words like passion, artistic and dreams (all very relevant to the motivations of a student looking to join a beauty school).

Admittedly, being a beauty school makes it a tad easier and natural to use this appeal, but nevertheless, this ad is a very good example of banner advertising done right – it’s almost impossible to resist clicking it.

2. Ryerson University – Ted Rogers MBA

higher education banner ads - Ted Rogers MBA

This campaign “Not an old boy” was designed by Bob Ramsey of Ramsey Inc., in collaboration with Paul Haslip of HM&E Design. The tagline itself challenges the status quo and dares its audience to think differently. The use of real students’ images adds credibility and the brave use of Ryerson University’s brand colors adds a sparkling contrast to this ad, creating a great recall. Clicking this ad will take you to the videos of students’ stories, which rounds up the whole campaign really well. The ad challenges its audience to think different, while combining the traditional testimonial approach, creating a fantastic campaign.

3. London Metropolitan University

Banner Advertising in higher education - London Metropolitan University

With this campaign, London Metropolitan University wanted to highlight diversity, which is a very important part of the identity of the university. The banner ads were part of a broader campaign, that included TV advertisements and an array of social media films. Created by Spectrecom films, this campaign is heart-warming, and emotive, which is what they were going for. Check out the video here.

While the banner ads itself are not the most important parts of the campaign, but, they are a brief peek into what you would experience in the videos, and possibly as a part of the university, making them very powerful. Again, testimonial and emotional appeals are used here.

4. College for Creative Studies

banner ads for higher education - example

This super creative ad was created by Team Detroit, currently known as GTB. It is a parody of anti-drug ad campaigns, showing that kids are addicted to art and they can’t help it. The message “Talk to your kids about art school” fits perfectly with this theme. The ad is super-creative and uses humor to reach out to its target audience, which is a good call for an art school.

5. The University of Texas- M D Anderson Cancer Center

banner ads for higher education - example 5

“The MD Anderson Cancer center invests a lot on marketing research,” says Associate Vice President for Marketing, Alicia Jensen. She further adds –“This is a very competitive and confusing market with a lot of options. We use market research to understand patients and their communities and how they make decisions about cancer, both those who have cancer and those who may be future patients. We view this as part of our educational mission.”

Talking about design, this ad uses simplicity to stand out from the others. After all, the real power is in the message which describes patients as the fighter. A lot of white space makes the message looks distinct and powerful.

6. Roosevelt University- Just Watch meBanner Advertising in higher education - Roosevelt university

Now, this is different. The makers of this ad say

“Imagine a stock photo of a “confident smiling” person standing in front of a “beautiful campus” representing “successful career” and you’ll see pretty much 99% of other universities’ marketing design. However, RU has a rich history and very distinct audience of first generation college attendees with a strong belief in working hard for success. RU needed something unique, something ambitious, something that stood out.”

According to the design agency Nisrat – this ad resulted in a 10% hike in enrollments, which speaks volumes about how much it connected with its target audience.

7. The University of Sydney

Banner Advertising in higher education - University of Sydney

The campaign tagline “Leadership for good starts here” says it all. The campaign creates an emotional connect with all the stakeholders – alumni, current students and future students. In Paul Bruce, creative director at The Monkeys words “it tries to instill a renewed sense of pride for everyone in being part of the university.” The campaign highlights what the university stands for, while creating an aspirational appeal for the future students, and a sense of pride for the alumni and current students. Wonderfully researched, thought and executed – everything that an advertising campaign should be.

So, that’s it. This was my list of very well-designed and intelligent banner designs for higher education, along with the reasons that make them so. Have you spotted any other banner designs which deserve to be in the list? Let me know in comments.

Pro Tip  – When you build a multi-channel advertising campaign, always use a well-optimized landing page in sync with the digital banner ads. This will boost your conversion in a big way. If you want to explore landing pages and other tools which convert inquiries into enrollments – Take a LeadSquared demo and check it out yourself.

A constant gripe we hear from all Digital Marketers in the Insurance landscape is –“More than 30% of our inbound leads across all sources are not reachable” (“NC” as they would like to term them; Not Contactable)

After shedding all that blood, sweat and tears to craft high-conversion landing pages, writing seductive ad and page copy for SEO/SEM concluding with optimizing your bids for optimal cost per lead, watching that lead not respond to your calls & emails can be gut-wrenching.


How about a simple hack that would activate a minimum of 15% dead leads and get them talking again?

A regular Customer Success meeting with one of our Insurance clients, the other day, revealed a quirky hack that enabled their Digital Marketing team to generate more active leads out of their NC database. Being the benevolent folks that we are, we simply had to document the process for the benefit of the community at large – you see, we love our Karma Points


Before we get cracking, there are two ingredients that are essential to instrument the hack that follows.

Ingredient 1: You should have deployed an insurance marketing automation software. Shameless plug – LeadSquared is the best.

Ingredient 2: You should have a dedicated call-center team. The size of the team does not matter as long as there is a minimum of 1 resource for relentless dialing.


Following is the series of steps that led to victory

Step 1: The customer created a segment of all leads that had enquired for their flagship health insurance program IN THE LAST 30 DAYS BUT NEVER RESPONDED TO CALLS & EMAILS. These leads were comprised of two segments – the first segment did a quote-check and the other just dropped their lead without a quote check. Note: leads that have enquired in the last 30 days have a recency effect working for them. This hack might not work for older leads.

Step 2: The customer proceeded to trigger a nurturing email, the subject line being “[First Name], 10 things to keep in mind before buying a health insurance”. The email comprised of a Call To Action which led recipients to the blog on their website. Notice the name personalization in the mail? Personalized emails have a 50% better open rate than non-personalized mails.

Step 3: As soon as a lead clicked the link in the email, an automation was triggered that queued the lead’s phone number as “Hot Lead” in their call center dialing roster. In the client’s environment, Hot Leads are defined as high priority leads that are forwarded to their best performers who are empathetic to the customer’s cause. Another detail: The calls were placed 45 mins. after email link click so that leads could get ample time to read & process the blog.

The result: 1050 new leads responded to the call and were thrust deeper into the buying funnel.

What did we learn?

  • “Moments of truth” are not singular & isolated – Buyers need handholding in their journey from start to finish
  • Mere quotations and comparisons don’t work – Buyers lust for trust. Guides like “How-tos” & ”Things to keep in mind” build trust, open up relationships and get leads to talk freely.

How are you tackling the dead lead menace today? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We would love to know more!

Never has the Indian insurance landscape been witness to the raging competition levels as today. 42 insurance players are fighting it out for market share in a vertical that is perceived as “push-oriented” – in a red ocean like this, progressive customer-intent signals hold the key to moving the needle for some core metrics like Customer Lifetime Value, Renewal Rate and Conversions Per Agent. Increasingly, revenue teams are deploying cutting-edge automations to ensure that timely “moments of truth” are communicated with sales representatives real-time, especially in a sector that witness an average of 50% “NC (Non-Communicable)” customers in their database.

We ventured out to converse with our customers about some game-changing automation that have been deployed in their revenue environment. Having witnessed the impact of these automations from a first-person lens (LeadSquared is their platform-of-choice for driving the workflows) it was imperative for us to articulate them with from a revenue-acceleration standpoint. To further tag them under specific revenue-driving levers, we have classified them as aiding in either new policies distributed or an uptick in cross-selling.

Automation #1 – Communicate cross-selling signals to representatives

Imagine a scenario where a cross-section of your “child plan” customers visited your website and flipped through “retirement plan” pages only to read them and bounce off. Note – they have bounced off and not placed an enquiry on your website or called their account manager for the same. Maybe they are too early in their purchase cycle and are only in an information-hoarding mode. As marketers and sellers though, isn’t this the moment of truth that you were waiting for?

Our customers exploit this moment wisely; an instant notification is delivered to their respective sales representative informing them that their customer X, who bought a child plan has just visited a retirement plan page. This notification is followed by auto-creation of a sales activity; in this case, “call the customer after 24 hours” of their page visit (lest, they be termed stalkers! )

insurance marketing automation Automation #2 – Increase in new policies distributed through intelligent lead distribution

Let’s face it – every sales representative has a sweet spot. For some, their superior product knowledge in health plans might land them more policies than cursory knowledge in a savings plan. Distributing leads around dry metrics like zip code, product line or mere sales-representative availability is counter-productive and simply, a waste of leads.

Our customers are automating lead distribution to address product-specific leads in a specific geography through proven high-performers. An AI-driven core evaluates the historic performance of representatives in a product vertical and allocates a particular unit specific lead accordingly.

The result – superior new policy distribution numbers.

Insurance Marketing Automation For Lead DistributionAutomation #3 – Increase in new policies through precise and targeted lead nurturing

We spoke about it earlier – insurance sales is still heavily oriented towards educating the customer in the right earnest without coming across as “slimy” in the process. The right content for the right customer at the right time is a mantra that is serving insurers well and why not – after all, India is still heavily underpenetrated and lack of information is attributed to be the biggest factor.

An automation that is geared towards nurturing a segment of consumers with related content and in their moment of “search” has triggered windfall gains for our customers. For instance, all their leads who happen to visit a travel insurance product page and have not bought one earlier are exposed to a series of nurturing emails centered around travel – “10 things to be cautious about in your next foreign travel” being one of them.

Delight is a term we are striving to achieve in all our consumer interactions – this automation takes you one step closer to achieve this pipe-dream.Insurance Marketing Automation For Nurturing

Automation #4 – Increase in new policies through auto-recognition of urgency in a lead’s disposition

“Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay!” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Neither can insurance be sold without data, and then some. What’s the revelation here, you might ask?

Timely data. Contextual data. Actionable data.

Your direct sales or call-center agents might have a steady inbound stream of leads but is there a pecking order in which “urgency” of a lead is being allotted its due importance? In most cases, no. Let me explain.

Let’s look at the “best-outcome journey” of a lead who decides to visit your insurance website. Here’s how it goes

  • Lead lands on website through a particular product page or homepage
  • Lead flips around various pages trying to identify if there are better products
  • Lead converges her interest around 2-3 product options that address her short and long-term requirements
  • Lead submits details before she is routed to the premium calculator
  • Lead pays the premium online

Dream sequence, right? If only all visitor paths concluded in the over-simplified direction mentioned above! Our customers did the next best thing though – allot a priority calling tag to the leads who performed actions on the premium calculator page. Simply put, an automation was geared to push leads who calculated premiums (contextual) in various scenarios on top of the calling queue for agents with a notification email of their specific activities (actionable) to get in touch with them “just-in-time” (timely)

By establishing an instant contact with customers deep in the purchase funnel, our clients have witnessed record new policy initiation numbers.

Insurance Marketing Automation For Urgency Recognition

Automation #5 – Raising red flags if the number of qualified customers from a bancassurance branch falls below a pre-defined level

Not all bancassurance branches generate equal throughput – some generate more returns than others and insurers protect their high-performing turfs with vigor. On the opposite end of the spectrum though, a lingering problem persists – lack of visibility of activities and engagement at high performing branches.

Our customers wish to be abreast of everyday activity count and engagement metrics at branches. These branches are classified into 5, 4 and 3-star branches with respect to their potential and net addition to revenue. The respective branch managers inject the number of “inquiries”, “logins” and “customers” generated, in a CRM of choice.

However, the CRM is not equipped to notify their managers of a sudden dip in any of these numbers. The best that managers can achieve is dive into the CRM and seek information whereas information should flow to them, real-time.

Our clients have published automations that inform them of any unforeseen dip in average submission numbers daily, weekly or quarterly. These red flags empower unit heads to eliminate any blockages and stay on top of their revenue game because of access to granular branch activity data in their inbox without they having to search for it.

Insurance Marketing Automation For Bancassurance

You can replicate these workflows for your organization as well, to help you automate and simplify your revenue acceleration. However, to do this well, you need a tool that helps you create and implement these automation workflows. That’s where LeadSquared comes in. It has a drag and drop builder which it makes it easy for you to build your insurance sales workflows. And, it is very flexible, giving you multiple options to experiment and test your workflows. Of course, all the above templates are easy to build in LeadSquared.

So what are you waiting for? Try it out for yourself and see how easy it is.

Do you have more workflow ideas relevant for insurance sales? Let us know in the comments below.

In a recent webinar with LeadSquared titled “Attracting & Engaging Prospective Students with Storytelling & Technology”, Sharon Aschaiek from Higher Ed Communications and Bob Derr from Marketing Edge discussed on how higher-ed institutes can combine storytelling and technology to boost their recruitment efforts.

If you’d like to view the recording of the webinar, we got you covered. :)

Sharon AschaiekSharon says “In today’s highly crowded and competitive space of higher education, various universities out there are grasping at straws to capture the interest of prospective students and to sustain their interest. Your ideal prospect – Gen-Z are constantly targeted by increasingly sophisticated marketing messages from your competitors.”

Now, the question is – How do you set your institution apart to convert these prospective applicants into your students? Even though technology and storytelling seem like opposites, when used intelligently together, can help you gain the attention of your prospects. Let’s Dive in.

Battling the headwinds

The day in a life of an admissions officer and higher education marketing executive is very challenging. I’m sure that the following problem would ring a bell for you:-

Admission Officers Problem higher ed

Increasing Competition – Higher education is growing increasingly competitive. The number of institutions has increased by nearly 30% between 1980 and 2015. Students now have more choices than ever; and, with the creation of tools like the Common App, they can apply more easily, too.

Understanding Gen-Z – Known as the “instant generation”, Generation Z is the first group in our society raised entirely on technology. They’re mobile-based and expect immediate answers to their questions.

Doing More with Less –  I’m sure you would have come across this situation where your administration reduces your year over year budget and at the same time expectations from you to surpass previous goals grows exponentially.

Creating Meaningful and Personalized Connections – With so much noise out there regarding social media, email, texts – admission officers need to personalize their messages so as to stand out from the all the messages which are being bombarded on their prospects by other institutions.

Knowing What’s Working – At times, higher-ed marketing officials carry out multiple campaigns across different channels, unaware of what’s working and what’s not. Focusing maximum efforts across the most profitable channel seems like an impossible task when you are unaware of which source works best for your higher education marketing and why.

Too Many technologies to Choose From –  With a lot of tools available out there which only solve only one problem at a time like lead management tool, student information system etc., these higher-ed officials have a hard time implementing each solution to boost their recruitment success.

Storytelling and technology combined can be a potent weapon to battle these challenges and also to achieve your targets.

Storytelling in Higher Education Marketing

Numerous institutes carry out generic marketing campaigns to engage prospective students. To set your institution apart, you must be more creative with your marketing efforts. Storytelling is what would make your institute the white swan in the lake. Your marketing team should excel in telling stories about your institution, the aim of your institution and about the people you serve.

Why Storytelling?

Stories inform us – Storytelling is the oldest form of education. We have shared information and passed on knowledge from one generation to the next through storytelling. It’s a key part of our history, evolution and human nature.

Stories unite us – Stories help us understand each other. The more we understand each other, the more empathetic we are towards one another. So, storytelling is a fundamental social and cultural activity that can strengthen our relationships.

Stories inspire us –  It is also a powerful form of entertainment that stirs our emotions and fires up our imagination. A good tale engages us more than any other type of advertising and is very effective at inspiring us to act.

Higher-ed institutions can leverage storytelling to achieve the above mentioned and to inform prospective students about their educational programs, create familiarity and closeness by sharing examples of current and former students and inspire prospects to pursue education at your institute.

How Can Storytelling Help Your Institute?

Your prospects are in the middle of their own epic story – they’re deciding on what kind of person they will become, and what kind of future they will have.

(Georgetown University has a marketing campaign which features brief videos of students sharing their stories about being accepted to the school. This video, from March of this year, features a woman named Deidra telling her acceptance story and what it meant to her)

Where higher education marketing is effective is when it reflects those journeys back to students, and then positions school guiding them on that journey and helping them accomplish their goals.

Storytelling helps you accomplish the following objectives: –

  •  It illustrates a deep understanding of your prospective students and what is important to them – their dreams, motivations, needs, and goals.
  • Storytelling demonstrates that your institution understands key industry trends and issues. It supports your story and demonstrates your relevance to your audience.
  • It paints a picture of what your institution is all about – your mission and values, program outcomes, and importantly to this audience, the outcomes of your graduates.

(Private, co-educational college in New York. This is their 2017-2018 view-book, which won a Best in Show distinction at this year’s Educational Advertising Awards.)

Not only storytelling fulfills the above objective, but it also gives you the extra edge over your competitors by: –

Helping You Distinguish Your Institution from Others – It helps your school stand out in the marketplace and differentiates you from the competition.

Improves User Experience – Prospective students will have a more enjoyable time browsing your website, social media channels or literature because the stories will make it more interesting and relatable.

Builds Trust and Loyalty – Telling authentic stories about your institution, programs and initiatives and the success stories of students and graduates helps prospective students really get to know your school. This helps in developing a relationship with your prospects.

Increases Engagement – Authentic, compelling stories have the potential to increase engagement with your school because it increases the probability that prospects will explore other stories on your site. This eventually helps broaden your school’s engagement.

Lowers Acquisition Costs – Marketing campaigns with compelling stories have the potential to go viral, resulting in having to spend less money on paid marketing campaigns.

Anatomy of a Strong Story

Checkout this example of storytelling in marketing outside of higher ed that I think you will find very instructive. This brief marketing video by AirBNB demonstrates how the company helped a family heal the divide caused by the former Berlin Wall. The video was released in 2014 during a Berlin unification event.

When you write a story for your higher education marketing, make sure that it includes the following: –

A Hero – The hero for your story will be a current or past student. It will help your prospective students identify with your institution. You can also use a narrative that explicitly positions your school, or a specific program at your school, as the hero that solves the student’s problem.

A Journey – This would refer to the journey of a former or current student at your school, highlighting what it’s like to attend your school, their experience and how your institution helped them achieve their goals.

A “So What” – In your story, should provide information that is meaningful to your prospective students making relevant and interesting to them.

Tension/conflict – Prospective students may face challenges such as too many school choices, price, location etc. – you need to reflect their pain points by using the example of a current or former student, you can reflect on how they faced and overcame these types of obstacles to be successful at your institution.

Resolution – Last but not the least, your stories should act as the light at the end of the tunnel, which are the programs and services your school provides to help them achieve their academic goals and prepare for their career.

Now that we’ve understood how storytelling can be helpful and what creates a great story to attract students to your institution, let’s look at how it can be combined with technology to help your higher education marketing soar high!

Technology in Higher Education Marketing

Ever evolving technology has played a vital part in helping admission officers with their day to day challenges.

Tools like LeadSquared, have helped admission officers by simplifying and automating their tasks allowing them to focus more on bigger responsibilities thereby boosting your enrollment success.

An ideal platform should address the following problems which your admissions team faces: –

Capture Inquires from Multiple Channels

Student Enrollment Software - LeadSquared's lead capture solution

In today’s multi-channel world, your institute will receive inquiries from many sources. Often, keeping track of these sources can be very difficult. Further, managing these inquires using spreadsheets and manual data entry can be very time consuming and error-prone task. You run the risk of losing track of these inquiries. With the help of lead capturing platform, you can capture, track, nurture and engage your prospective students on a single platform.

Route inquiries to appropriate team members

School and college marketing - lead distribution in higher education institutes

Another great platform which great boon for multiple higher-ed institutions is lead management systems. These platforms have been helpful for in routing every incoming inquiry to the right admission officer based on parameter like course of interest, campus, location etc. Immediately responding to the right inquires not only helps in reducing the response rate for an instant generation audience but also eventually results in higher conversion rate.

Get source and campus performance reports

While it’s good to know the sources of the leads, it’s even better to know the relative effectiveness of those sources. With a lead capturing platform, you can evaluate the impact of different sources on your higher education marketing efforts. These platforms provide you with data helping make more informed marketing budget decisions.

Tracking, scoring and notifying

LeadSquared Student Recruitment System - notify admission officers

Marketing automation systems can help you track and score the behaviors of applicants. So, you can not only see the journey that a prospective student is taking but you can also assign a quantitative value to a set of activities.  Plus, once a score exceeds a pre-determined limit, a team such as admissions can be automatically notified.

Identify the “best- fit” students for your institution

LeadSquared student enrollment management system - prioritize your tasks

Not all applicants or inquiries are great fits for your school. By tracking, scoring and assessing behaviors, you can decide which applicants may be worthy of your limited time for one to one follow up. In essence, lead scoring can be used to identify the best students to which you should reach out.

Know your applicants inside out

Prior to reaching out to this applicant, you’ll have quick and easy access to all interactions such as the web page visits or the messages they opened, plus with the pre-built connectors, you can take a quick look at their social profiles to identify their interests. This info or insight may be woven into your follow up communications.

Automate your day to day task

An admissions officer has a very limited time in their day and there’s a lot of inefficiency in having to take time to create a message to respond to a predictable inquiry or request or having to manually upload every information of your students into your student information system.
Many leading marketing automation tools out there enable you to automate your daily tasks by sending inquiry responses based on different triggers or sending automatic follow-up e-mails for different scenarios etc.

Convert Applications to Enrollments

If you are looking for a platform which is a combination of all the above-mentioned tools you should evaluate LeadSquared. Here’s why: –

  1.  It is easy to use and learn – there’s very little need for IT support
  2.  Data access is simple and can be centralized
  3.  Automation and scoring can provide prescriptive intelligence
  4.  You can stay connected with great student applicants and share your powerful stories

A great story along with an efficient platform will not only help your institutes marketing team in attracting and engaging with prospective students and will help you over-achieve your admissions target. Wishing you a great admission season ahead!