Meet Geoff Roebuck, Education Team Lead

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Get to know Geoff Roebuck, team lead for the education vertical.

From fun personal facts and what he did before coming to Level, to insight into the education vertical, join us!

Rather listen than read? This article is adapted from a podcast interview, available here:

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that people might not know.

In college I worked as a part time shuttle bus driver at the University of Maryland. I worked as a bus driver for a number of years then I worked my way up to dispatcher and then safety training manager. I loved working there. It was the highest paying student’s-only gig on campus. I had my CDL license for a few years though it has since lapsed. I drove bus to pay a few of the bills in college. I also ran dispatch and we were responsible for finding the optimal path for the driver to pick up students. Get out your maps, figure out the optimal route, and make it happen. There’s a lot of parallels between that and coordinating a marketing campaign.

What is a Team Lead and what do they do?

There are four team leads at the agency that report directly to Pat Van Gorder and Pat Patterson. We are members of the leadership team, so we help coordinate on agency decision making and business development. However, my main responsibility is the success of all the education clients at Level Agency and leading a team of a dozen people. It’s making sure that their business goals are met and usually that means student generation. At the agency, we are a multi-functional team comprised of designers, developers, copywriters, account managers, account coordinators, media managers, and media analysts. As a team we’re each charged with making sure that we’re spending the client’s every single media dollar as if it were our own and to generate qualified leads that are going to become applicants, interviews, and students.

What’s been your path within the agency?

Prior to Level I worked at Johns Hopkins as well as Pitt. This has definitely been the longest place I’ve worked.

I started at the agency in a position that no longer really exists anymore. The best comparison would be media analyst, at the time it was called “online marketing specialist.” It was an entry level position and my role at the start was really focused on media, less so on account management/coordination. That was about eight years ago and we were a team of about 20 people. During that time, we were really focused on the success of our client’s landing page. Optimization was a full-time job at that point for all our clients. I still have a very special place in my heart for landing page optimization, but since then I’ve developed more skill sets around account coordination, strategy, and statistical modeling.

I grew into a management position and eventually became the director of the media team when we were organized as functional teams. In January, we changed models to the cross functional team and I became team lead for education. Now, education is my primary focus. Our education clients continue to be a large part of our business and from a team standpoint, it’s what I’ve been focused on since January.

How is data critical to digital marketing?

It’s always been about data-driven decisions—using high-quality data to drive decisions. That’s really been the success of our EDU clients. Also, if I’m going to be selfish, my own success is using data to drive my goals, establish those goals, and then work to meet those goals. It’s all been very data focused. I have a bias towards data considering my heavy statistics and psychology background.

If you know how to read numbers and tell a story through numbers, you’re going to go incredibly far. Synthesizing data and telling stories is key. No matter where you go, data literacy is so important. Otherwise, you don’t know how to grow. You don’t know whether you’re growing. You don’t know in what areas that you’re growing. And that is so crucial to marketing to business to academia, to your relationships. We all use data every single day. We just might not know it, but it’s so crucial to have that capacity and capability.

What’s something that I should be asking as a client when I’m vetting these agencies that would help me figure out who actually knows the education space and who just is saying that they do?

That can be tricky because some of the best practices in B2B are best practice in education marketing. While there is a lot of crossover, there are unique challenges to the education vertical. So, I would ask for things like: give us examples of some education clients you’ve specifically worked on? What were the challenges that they were facing and what were the solutions that you deployed to tackle those challenges? What were the key performance indicators that you’re using to determine success? What are the numbers?

If they talk about doubling impression volume year over year as how they define success, it may be great. If you only care about how many people look at your ads, fantastic. I wish you the best of luck though, because we highly recommend you look at it from a further down funnel perspective, so leads/application/enrollments. What is your cost for enrollment? What were you doing for my student volume?

So, ask what the proof points are for them. Ask about the challenges that their clients have faced in the last six months to a year. What are some exciting initiatives and developments in the education space, for the last six months? What’s an exciting project they deployed for an education client in the last six months? If they can’t think of something exciting that they’ve done in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing and education digital marketing in the last six months, then you probably have an agency on your hands that might not be as excited about the education vertical or might not have the kinds of experience that you absolutely need to be successful in this space in 2021.

What’s something you’re very excited about that you’re putting out and testing right now with education clients?

We are really excited about testing Tik Tok as a new lead generation and enrollment generation platform, not just awareness platform. Everything we are seeing from them highlights that they have robust capabilities in creative and almost as good targeting as Facebook but with attractive pricing. We’ll be testing that for education because we’re hearing from B2B and other teams that this is the next frontier in social. If we can diversify the portfolio, then we don’t have to rely so much on Facebook, Instagram, and to a smaller extent, LinkedIn.

We also are employing real-time bidding strategies and automated bidding for some of our education clients. This is not just from a conversion generation perspective but optimizing towards actual lead volume from Salesforce directly, linking to Google Analytics, search ads, DV 360, whatever it is and deploying automated bid strategies to get actual lead volume. Once we get lead volume high, we move to the next stage of the funnel (applications) and automating to the application being generated. If we have enough data in Handshake, then we can start optimizing towards real quality rather than “Hey, I got you a conversion. Somebody filled out a form. They might be garbage but somebody filled out the form so I feel good about it.” But really trying to get that quality. It’s all about a high volume of high-quality leads that are going to generate success.

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