RHB on the Slate Stage: Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Efforts Across Platforms

Digital advertising is a marketing must for most institutions, and by funneling campaign responders into our Slate instances, we have an efficient yet powerful mechanism for generating and converting leads throughout the lifecycle. However, we can only optimize our strategy if we’re able to effectively track efforts across our platforms, and this task isn’t always simple. How can we connect the dots between prospective students and the digital marketing campaigns they have interacted with?

RHB Senior Integration Consultant Megan Miller teamed up with RHB Cooperative member Kris Hardy of Messiah University to explore all this in a Slate Innovation Festival presentation on May 24, 2021. They gave us some good news: the tools for boosting our campaign intelligence and efficacy are right at our fingertips, and we just need to tap into their full potential. In their Slate State session, they explored how to combine Slate’s native functionalities with the power of external platform integrations and Google Tag Manager so that we can properly attribute prospective students’ behaviors to our digital efforts. In the course of this discussion, three key themes emerged.

Effective form submission attribution requires tracking in both Slate and your ad platforms.

Slate forms are a fantastic tool for digital marketing, and by driving our campaigns to these forms, we’re able to easily and reliably bring leads into our system. In order to get a clear picture of our conversion metrics, however, our ad platforms and Slate need to work in sync with each other. Advertising platforms can provide us with valuable data about impressions and our advertising spend, but their intelligence will end once a lead reaches our Slate form—the platform won’t know who actually submitted a form unless we provide that information. By setting up Google Tag Manager within our instance, we’ll be able to pass that information back, and this will help us to match up form submissions with the audience that is engaging with our campaigns. We can then use this data to gain better insights around our conversion rates and cost per lead.

Within Slate, we’ll also want to attribute form submissions to our digital campaigns so that we can identify these leads and track their post-response behavior, and for this, UTM tracking can be very powerful. While Slate forms will capture some UTM data upon submission, these insights will be limited to those responders who submit the form without navigating to other pages first. We’ll be better served if we add a cookie to our site that will record these UTM parameters, then map this UTM data to hidden, entity-scoped fields on a Slate form. By doing this, we’ll be able to query and report in a detailed and nuanced manner throughout the entirety of the enrollment funnel.

Enlist webhooks and APIs to integrate your social marketing.

Social media is a key channel for digital marketing, and, much like we noted above for digital attribution, social marketing is most effective when a bidirectional data feed exists between the social platform and Slate.

Because data can’t feed directly from our social channels into Slate, importing social lead form responders requires integration with a task automation tool (at RHB, we use Zapier) using what’s known as a webhook. Within Slate, we’ll need to create a service account for Zapier and build a source format with XML configuration, while in Zapier, we’ll set up what’s called a “Zap” to ensure that the data that’s pulled from LinkedIn or Facebook matches with what Slate is expecting to see in our source format. While this takes a bit of work to get built initially, once it’s all in place, leads will move into Slate instantly and automatically.

Integrating our Slate data with Facebook is much simpler, as we can use Facebook’s API to push our records over to the platform for retargeting or look-alike audiences. We can connect our Slate instance to our Facebook Business profile within Slate’s Deliver Configuration tool, and once that’s set, a scheduled query export is all that’s needed to tie the two systems together.

Configure your Deliver messages with engagement monitoring in mind.

When building email campaigns in Deliver, embracing a few best practices upfront will make our reporting and tracking far simpler to manage. Creating a strategic folder structure in Deliver can significantly reduce the complexity of our report filters and exports without compromising the level of detail these reports provide; foldering our emails by functional theme, then by audience allows us to report on distinct campaigns and better utilize the drill-down functions that exist in Slate reports. Naming conventions can also be a valuable tool for reports, particularly when it comes to sequential messages. Here, we can combine the message number with a thematic summary to create campaign reports that are properly ordered and relevant without the need for excessive configuration behind the scenes.

We also can set up UTM parameters right within the Deliver interface, and by doing so, we’ll benefit from incredibly robust data insights that can inform our campaigning. The information that Google Analytics captures via UTM can be fed into Google Data Studio, where dashboard reports can provide us with a wealth of information on our audience’s browsing behaviors, locations, devices, and other engagement metrics that we can use to adjust and optimize our content strategy and tactics.

Want to learn more? Download the slides from the presentation and watch the recording of the session. And if you’d like some additional pointers for setting all this up, contact us.

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Megan Miller

Megan is a Senior Technology Consultant at RHB.