NAU: Optimizing Digital Channels to Attract Prospective Students

Northern Arizona University is a public university based in Flagstaff, Arizona, with courses available at 20+ statewide locations and online.

As a leader across a variety of academic programs, NAU requested our support to attract qualified prospective students through digital marketing channels. We kicked things off by conducting a comprehensive analysis of NAU’s existing digital media strategy to help us understand how effectively they were reaching their audiences via their paid digital media spend. From there, we developed a digital marketing strategy to optimize their program marketing.

Setting the foundation

Our upfront planning efforts involved creating a strategic framework that clearly defined business objectives and tactics, to help guide NAU’s digital marketing approach. With paid digital media as a main focus, we developed a media audit and plan, providing channel recommendations, competitive analysis, and proposed enhancements to the university’s current strategy and plan to better deliver on goals

Analytics audit and remediation

We reviewed NAU’s digital marketing tracking to assess their data integrity, identifying opportunities for improvement. Then, to facilitate more streamlined reporting based on our new tracking, we implemented a dashboard cleanup in Google Data Studio.

Site migration and enhancements

To support NAU’s media and lead generation efforts, we helped migrate their degrees microsite to a WordPress site, and designed and developed a more optimized short form. These changes led to significant conversion increases and more efficient costs per lead.

Resonating with our audience

To reach prospective NAU online learners in a compelling way, we developed a brand campaign from concept to production, centered around the unique differentiators of NAU’s online programs. Not only did we work to position NAU as a leader in online education, but also established a platform to create more brand consistency moving forward.

The “At the Speed of You” campaign

After reviewing and analyzing the existing research, we created the “At the Speed of You” campaign, highlighting the student-first approach that NAU takes to higher education. We also built out comprehensive campaign guidelines, including sample assets.

Maintaining & optimizing

Beyond our initial efforts to set NAU up for success in the digital space, we continue to manage NAU’s digital lead-generation media program, analytics, and AWS accounts. We do all this to ensure we are recognizing opportunities for improvement and adjusting our efforts accordingly. 

Media management

Through our media efforts, we’ve been able to create efficiencies and reach better qualified leads, leading NAU’s Marketing Department to pace ahead of their lead generation goals. Key highlights include: launching new campaigns and creative updates for more than 50 programs, implementing consistent naming conventions for accurate tracking and measurement, adding new media channels, and restructuring accounts for greater scalability.

SEO management

To enhance NAU’s online search traction and grow organic traffic, we provide keyword monitoring and proactive search intent optimizations for both branded and non-branded search terms. As part of our SEO management efforts, we also host trainings and develop SIO documentation to consistently support NAU’s team.


From an analytics standpoint, we continually surface strategic recommendations to the University Marketing team to more effectively understand business opportunities. We conduct web analytics and data monitoring to quickly respond to any issues, provide tagging and tracking support, and maintain and create analytics dashboards, among other key efforts. Key highlights include: Organic landscape analysis, priority microsite page funnel analyses, and lead quality analyses.

Website and AWS management

We manage NAU’s AWS account so we can consistently monitor and maintain hosting. Additionally, to ensure the degrees microsite remains a valuable conversion asset, we provide monthly ad hoc website support, including short form enhancements, Salesforce integrations, and QA and bug fixes.

Looking Ahead

From establishing a solid online foundation, to the development of new creative for the university’s online brand and ongoing program management support, we continue to uncover opportunities to drive qualified leads and conversions for NAU. We look forward to our future together as both strategic and creative partners.

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Shea Homes

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