Targeting Alumni with LinkedIn Advertising

Last month I wrote a post detailing how higher-education providers could use LinkedIn’s new targeting options to refine their audiences and get more qualified leads.  Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to specify the users you want to reach based on their profiles’ personal information.  Getting this granular really allows you to tailor ads to the needs of the potential student and the goals of your school.  LinkedIn now has 8 levels of targeting, including the following seen in the image on the left.

One of the most successful ways that we have been using these new targeting options is for reaching alumni of various higher-education institutions.  Whether the goal is to engage possible donors, promote an event or publicize graduate programs, advertising on LinkedIn can help you achieve it.  As with any other enterprise, knowing the demographic information of your target group is essential to the success of your marketing.  When targeting alumni, the areas we can look at include School, Group, and Age.

Once you have a goal in mind, you can begin setting up your targeting options.  For this example, let’s say that we want to promote an alumni donor event for Bowling Green State University.  We would begin by selecting United States as our location, since anyone who is out of the country most likely would not be flying back for an event.  Secondly, we want to target by school.  Doing this will target all past and current BGSU students.  Since we are targeting alumni, we may want to exclude the age group of 18-25.  With that said, I do not generally recommend including age in your targeting or exclusion.  Many LinkedIn members do not list their ages in their profiles, so by targeting age groups you may be excluding more than just the 18-25 group.

Another advantage of group targeting is that you can get even more granular with your ads.  Let’s say that the alumni event your school was holding was just for graduates of the business school.  If there are business alumni groups set up on LinkedIn, either by your school or someone else, you can target these groups specifically. Another successful way to target your alumni is to use group targeting.  Also like Facebook, anyone is able to create a group in LinkedIn, so when you are adding groups to your targeting options, make sure the group is reputable and has a significant number of members.


 While zeroing in on alumni is not the only great way for a school to use LinkedIn’s targeting options, it is one of the most successful strategies I have seen for my education clients.  Click-thru rates tend to be higher than average because you are targeting people that are already attached to your school and have invested significant time and money in your institution.  If you’re an alumni/advancement director or school CMO who has not yet begun to explore advertising on LinkedIn, I suggest you begin as soon as possible.   The improved interface and targeting options greatly increase the value while the network’s overall reach also continues to grow.


Get a deeper look at advertising wisely on LinkedIn with our LinkedIn advertising white paper.


Check out Fathom’s 30-pg. Ultimate Guide to Marketing an Educational Institution with Social Media. It’s full of insightful interviews and illustrative case studies on using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for marketing a school.

Social Media 101 for Schools

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