Digital Marketing RFP Issued By State of Illinois


The Board of Trustees of Western Illinois University is seeking proposals from qualified firms (“Vendors”) specializing in higher education strategic enrollment marketing in order to provide support and digital marketing campaign creation, management, optimization and reporting to facilitate digital marketing and advertising tactics for WIU’s target audience. The University requires the firm to execute the University’s digital marketing campaign plans and provide ongoing monitoring and optimization, as well as reporting. The firm shall provide expert consultation and feedback based on industry best practice that will help the University strengthen plans both before the launch of a campaign and during the run of a campaign. After University Marketing provides creative assets and messaging needed for a campaign, the selected firm shall execute the campaigns to include the build out of individual ads within each platform, monitoring key performance indicators, and adjusting campaign elements like bid strategies and keyword usage to improve performance and maximize budget. The work performed by the selected firm will support several related projects throughout the academic year. The firm shall report raw key performance indicator data at frequent intervals as necessitated by the particular campaign, as well as in-depth analytical reports at the end of a campaign. Reporting shall be provided in such a manner to allow for improved performance based on the data.


University Marketing (UM) is searching for the services of a digital marketing firm to implement, coordinate and facilitate digital marketing and advertising tactics for WIU’s target audience. Western Illinois University’s ultimate marketing goals are to increase student applications and enrollment. Auxiliary goals include brand recognition by alumni, current and future students, staff, faculty and influencers (parents, guidance counselors, etc.) and promotion of school pride by students, faculty, staff and alumni. Western’s objective is to bolster awareness and accentuate consideration of Western Illinois University by influencers and potential students – including traditional, non-traditional, international, military and transfer. In addition, there is a possibility of specific academic program marketing. The vendor may describe any unique, creative ideas or strategies that add value to the project and amplify results.

Scope of Work:

The University evaluates three categories of information: responsiveness, responsibility, and price. The University will consider the information provided in the response and the quality of that information when evaluating responses. If the University finds a failure or deficiency, the University may reject the response or reflect the failure or deficiency in the evaluation as appropriate. The University will determine how well responses meet the Responsiveness requirements. They will rank responses, without consideration of Price, from best to least qualified using a point ranking system (unless otherwise specified) as an aid in conducting the evaluation. Vendors who fail to meet minimum requirements or who receive fewer than the minimum required points will not be considered for Price evaluation and award. The maximum number of points possible is 250 points.

2.1.1 Responsiveness: A Vendor is considered responsive when they have submitted a response that conforms in all material respects to the solicitation and includes all required forms and signatures. The University will determine whether the response complied with the instructions and other administrative requirements for submitting responses. Except for late submissions, and other requirements that by law must be part of the submission, the University may require that a Vendor corrects deficiencies as a condition of further evaluation. The University will determine whether the response meets the stated requirements. Minor differences or deviations that have negligible impact on the suitability of the supply or service to meet the University’s needs may be accepted or corrections allowed. When the specification calls for “Brand Name or Equal”, the brand name product is acceptable. Other products will be considered with proof the other product meets stated specifications and is equivalent to the brand product in terms of quality, performance and desired characteristics. The chart below shows the elements of Responsiveness in point format and the maximum number of points available for each element. The total number of points available for Responsiveness is 175 points. Vendors who do not receive 95 points of the total Responsiveness points need not be considered for Price evaluation and award.

2.1.2 Responsibility: A Vendor is considered responsible when it has the capability in all respects to fully perform the contract requirements and have the integrity and reliability that will assure good faith performance. The University will determine whether the University can or should do business with a Vendor. The University may consider factors including, but not limited to political contributions, certifications, conflict of interest, financial disclosures, past performance in business or industry, references (including those found outside the solicitation), compliance with applicable laws, financial responsibility, insurability, equal opportunity compliance, payment of prevailing wages if required by law, capacity to produce or sources of supply, ability to provide required maintenance service or other matters relating to the Vendor’s probable ability to deliver in the quality and quantity within the time and price as specified in the solicitation.

2.1.3 Price: The total number of points for Price is 75. The University will determine Price points using the following formula: Maximum Price Points X (Lowest Price / Vendor’s Price) = Total Price Points If the University does not consider the Price to be fair and reasonable, and negotiations fail to establish an acceptable Price, the University reserves the right to award to the next most qualified vendor with whom the university can negotiate a fair and reasonable price or cancel the solicitation and take appropriate action to meet the needs of the University. The University will determine whether the Price is fair and reasonable by considering the Price proposed, the Vendor’s qualifications, the Vendor’s reputation, all prices submitted, other known prices, the project budget and other relevant factors.

2.2 Award: The University is not obligated to award a contract pursuant to this solicitation. If the University issues an award, the award shall be made to the responsible vendor V.15.1 13 whose proposal is determined in writing to be the most advantageous to the University, taking into consideration the evaluation factors set forth in this solicitation and price.

2.2.1 The University will post a notice to the Bulletin identifying the most responsive and responsible vendor. Awards are not final until all protests are resolved. The notice extends the response firm time until the parties sign a contract or determine not to sign a contract. If negotiations do not result in an acceptable agreement, the University shall reject the response and may begin negotiations with another vendor.

2.2.2 Awarded Vendors must at all times, including during any resulting contract, have financial resources sufficient, in the opinion of the University, to ensure performance of the contract. Vendor must provide proof upon request. The University may require a performance bond if, in the opinion of the University, it will ensure performance of the contract. The University may terminate the contract if the Vendor lacks the financial resources to perform under the contract.

This Section and Proposer’s response to it will be incorporated into the final Contract. The University is seeking proposals from qualified firms (“Vendors”) to implement and facilitate digital marketing and advertising tactics for WIU’s target audience. This contract will have an initial three-year term that will begin July 1, 2020 or upon execution, along with seven (7) optional one-year renewals under the same terms and conditions based on satisfactory performance, continuing need, and availability of funds. The creative production of all artwork/graphic design as well as audio and video commercials will be done in-house at Western Illinois University, and should not be included as a part of the bid. The university is not able to guarantee any specific dollar volume on an awarded contract, and will not be able to commit to a contract that requires any financial penalties for not meeting this estimated spend. Vendors shall be required to provide services under a resulting contract regardless of actual spend.

5.1.2 Consistency/Appearance/Awareness: The vendor will ensure consistency of appearance and awareness of WIU’s digital communication and marketing pieces, reflecting the WIU brand identity. The vendor must be able to identify with the mission and goal of the University in regards to its digital needs and messaging goals. Vendor will develop a familiarity with WIU’s brand that will enable it to anticipate opportunities for effective communication, further strengthening the WIU brand. 5.1.3 University Expectations: The University Marketing Team will have the final approval of all projects. The vendor must utilize and build upon the University’s current marketing campaign. Final artwork will be supplied by the University Relations and or University Marketing to the vendor. Any other creative content submitted by the vendor will be reviewed by the Marketing team and should follow the University’s brand identity. Western’s Visual Identity Guidelines are located online at hhtp:// for vendors to become familiar with WIU’s logo and trademark policies and guidelines. The vendor will seek to reach the target audience at V.15.1 17 various levels where applicable. This may include local, regional, state national and/or worldwide strategies. A one sentence “I agree” or “I comply” will not be accepted as a responsive reply. Additional details, which concisely and thoroughly describe how each desirable component will be met, should be provided with Vendor’s technical proposal response, using the same numbering system as in the solicitation. Also include examples of previous marketing campaigns for other clients.

5.2 Advertising Plan/Media Mix:

For evaluative purposes, vendors shall provide a detailed narrative as to how their firm will meet the advertising/media strategies as identified in sections

5.2.1 to 5.2.4 5.2.1 Search/Paid Search – The Vendor will use web search engine-based digital tactics to reach prospects where they are actively searching for information about higher education options. Based on search best practices, use of analytics and optimized based on Key performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure reach, the vendor will be responsible for initial account structure set up. Using KPIs, the vendor will be responsible for optimizing best search practices and analytics to design the account structure. – Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – The KPIs should include, but not limited to the following: Unique Visitor Analytics – Analyze how many visitors have view content with a designated time frame. Geo-Targeting – Using the University’s recruitment goals from various and specific geographic regions, the vendor will explain how to allocate resources and budget to optimize student reach. Mobile Readership – Analyze the use of mobile technology. Bounce Rates/Time spent engaged with content – Analyze the data dynamics. Page Views – Analyze the ability to draw correlations between unique visitors and page views. Branded Campaigns – The vendor will implement specific campaigns for desktop computer, tablet computer, and mobile device search. Within these branded campaigns, the vendor will structure to ensure keywords chosen enable WIU to rank higher than the competition, with the lowest cost per click with the highest volume possible, generating the highest number of quality leads. This includes both Google and Bing. Utilize tools outside of Google (such as SEMrush, Keyword IO, etc.) to conduct regular benchmarks against the competition to identify new keyword opportunities. General Campaign – The vendor will also build and implement a general campaign to launch all keywords for a broad match (i.e., based on search queries, build phrase to capture exact match and negative keyword ad groups). Daily monitoring and adjusting of search ads is required. 

5.2.2 Online Advertising: The vendor will implement online advertising campaigns through, but not limited to, such platforms as Google AdSense (Google’s content network); social media/network platforms including, but not limited to: Facebook, YouTube, V.15.1 18 Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and others as applicable, streaming music networks (e.g., Spotify, Pandora); and applicable proprietary and other non-proprietary online- advertising networks. The vendor will test and optimize campaigns based on performance. Audience Targeting – The vendor will use advanced (proprietary or nonproprietary) technology to reach (anonymously) the targeted audience in the State of Illinois as well as applicable states (e.g., states that border Illinois and whose residents receive in-state tuition rates at the University); in the United States; and in international locations, if applicable, based on their online behavior. Content Targeting – The vendor will use content created and approved by University Marketing to serve and distribute content (i.e., display and video ads) to websites that feature information and content about finding colleges and universities and higher education financial options, (i.e., states that border Illinois and states with large high school populations; all U.S. students receive in-state tuition), on college search sites. Look-Alike Targeting – The vendor will work with the University to aggregate data from users to find individuals with similar traits (as current users) and then leverage third-party data to create similar user pools to advertise to the “lookalike” user pools in order to expand the potential target audience. The vendor will test and optimize each segment based on performance. Site Re-Targeting – The vendor will work with the University to aggregate data from users to re-target ads on other websites the users browse/engage with. Over The Top Advertising – The vendor will leverage the analytics, tracking technology, hyper-targeting various targeting tools to reach our targeted audience(s) to place ads alongside long form and live streaming content across highly rated branded networks by negotiating with third party Over The Top suppliers, the lowest cost and quality placement of our advertising.

5.2.3 Social Media – The vendor will work with Western Illinois University’s existing social media operations, which are managed and coordinated in the University Relations Office, under the supervision of the Executive Director of University Communications. WIU will remain administrator of all social media sites but may grant admin rights for the advertising component.

5.2.4 Traditional Media Buys/Negotiations –to Include Traditional Media Time/Space The vendor will work with University Marketing and University Relations to negotiate media-related buys with television, newspaper, radio, and other media outlets to determine the best price, time slots, programming, etc. for WIU advertising.

5.3 Marketing Goals – The main goal of this digital marketing contract is to drive enrollment. This is currently broken down into goals of increased inquiries, campus visits and applications. The vendor must have the ability to measure and increase upon these goals and define V.15.1 19 additional goals when needed as the market environment evolves. This is demonstrated by increased inquires, campus visits and applications.

5.3.1. Return on Investment (ROI) must be proven above the dollar figure spent in digital marketing. Current expectation is above a 1:2 ratio.

5.3.2. Establish goals with WIU relevant per project and demonstrate success base on current benchmark trends and metrics.

5.3.3. Must meet or exceed industry standard benchmark rates for higher education

5.4 Deliverables: 

Reports and all deliverables will become the property of the University. For the first thirty (30) days, submission of weekly reports of successful key words and other marketing tools/tactics used (of paid search and online advertising plans). Bi-weekly reports may suffice after the initial thirty (30) days. Please explain how these mandatory deliverables will be achieved in sections

5.4.1 to 5.4.4. 5.4.1. Provide monthly reports based on marketing goal achievements.

5.4.2. Provide other reports or data information that will help the University Marketing team evaluate whether the vendor is providing the service for which the University has contracted.

5.4.3 Provide reports when requested from Google Ads and other business accounts (Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to have direct insight into the campaign work.

5.4.4 Provide access to a dedicated digital strategist for close collaboration. Vendor must have the ability to shift funds mid-campaign between media accounts to maintain top performance.

5.5 University Provided Contact Person

5.5.1. The University will provide information accessed from the University’s Proprietary database (e.g., existing alumni, current students, accepted students) applicable and as it can be provided per federal and state law (e.g. FERPA) and other privacy requirements. 

5.5.2. The University will provide information accessed from the University’s content databases or resources (e.g., photographs from the Visual Production Center’s content server; video or online content, etc.).

5.6 Vendor and Staffing Specifications: The Vendor shall describe the vendor and staffing specifications below. For evaluative purposes, vendor shall respond to Section 5.6 with the requested information below.

• Please provide name, address, phone, fax, and email of the responding company

• Responding company shall provide background information—including years in business, approximate annual sales, number of clients, number of employees, areas of expertise, and a list of relevant services that the company provides 

• Full contact information (name, title, address, phone, fax, email) for the Vendor’s designated primary representative for the University

• Résumés and/or background information and experience of representatives listed above and any other key management or operational staff who will be assigned to provide the services outlined in this response, including but not limited to 

o Technical training and education

o General experience 

o Specific experience with services being requested o Qualifications and abilities to perform the requested services

o Other information that the vendor deems pertinent to demonstrating its qualifications to perform the services being requested

Due Date:

June 8, 2020 at 2:00pm CST


Solicitation Contact: Helen Schultze Phone: 309-298-1819 University Name: Western Illinois University Email: Street Address: 1 University Circle Fax: 309-298-1927 City, State, Zip: Macomb, IL 61455

Agencies worth considering include Rubenstein PR and Ketchum PR.

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