Optimize Facebook Ads for Better Higher Ed Marketing

By: Jarad Petroske Feb 28, 2019

Optimize Facebook Ads for Better Higher Ed Marketing

Have you ever boosted a Facebook post only to be let down by the results? You found your audience, had great ad creative, set aside a reasonable budget, but the ad still under-performed. For too many higher ed marketers, failing to unleash the power of a Facebook ad leads to an anemic engagement rate and a low click-through rate.

Most advertisers accept the lower performance and soldier on, or give up on the platform altogether. Follow this higher ed Facebook ad optimization guide to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

Boosted Post and Facebook Ads. What is the difference?

Any post—from a photo to a video or a status update—can become a boosted post. While clicking “boost post” is the easiest way to advertise on Facebook, you won’t have access to Facebook’s powerful Ad Manager. Advertisements created in Ad Manager can return impressive results with Facebook’s tools for customizing your advertising.

Ads built in Ads Manager will likely never show as organic boosted posts. Instead, these ads run for those within your target audience. Additionally, Ads created in Ads Manager can run a number of Facebook platforms, including Instagram.

What’s the Goal of Your Facebook Ad?

Facebook offers options for your campaign goals. The platform’s AI will automatically adjust the placement strategy based on your campaign goal, so be sure you are thoughtful about the campaign objective that you select.  In most cases you’re after one of two goals: Raising awareness for your college or Converting your audience into student inquiries.

Find Your Audience on Facebook

If you’re having trouble getting traction with your Facebook advertising, refining your audience can help. Marketers can define audiences by region, age, income, interest, and much more. You can also import lists of contacts and use that for building audiences. Retargeting audiences are a valuable option for engaging website visitors. 

One powerful tool is Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. These audiences mimic the characteristics and/or behaviors of your existing audience. Facebook Audiences are a quick and effective way to broaden your reach, and it’s available to everyone with a Facebook Ad Manager account.

Test & Tweak Your Facebook Ads to Improve Performance

One of the biggest advantages of online advertising is the ability to analyze and respond to real-time feedback. The mantra of higher ed marketers everywhere must be “test and re-test!” Through this refining process, you can discover the right type of ad to match your audience’s needs.

Here are just a few areas you can test (and retest) in your quest for the perfect Facebook ad:

  • Headline
  • Image
  • Ad Content
  • Call To Action
  • Demographic Targeting
  • Location
  • And so much more

Facebook makes it easy to identify which campaigns are performing best with its Campaign Compare feature in the Test and Learn tool. Data from this tool lets you see which campaigns are working best as a measure of efficacy and cost to you. Higher ed marketers should also take advantage of Facebook’s split testing tool, which lets users find the best performing ads among an ad set.

In It For the Long Haul

Some students take a long time to make a decision about enrolling. Online advertising lets you start a conversation with these students. Facebook ads offer excellent opportunities to engage with students who are commenting and liking your ads.

Within Ad Manager, you can turn your most successful posts into powerful ads that take advantage of all the tools we talked about here. If you’ve got some great posts from last year’s graduation, use those as ads and let their high like and comment counts act as social proof to your viewers.

Facebook is a valuable platform for identifying and engaging prospective students, current students and alumni. While the platform can seem overwhelming at first, the tools and capabilities make it an ideal platform for savvy higher ed digital marketers.

EducationDynamics can help with your higher education marketing, from social media to paid search, and more. Learn more at EducationDynamics.com.