Pay-per-click advertising can be a fantastic tool for marketers to get your message in front of a potential students. Higher education pay-per-click marketing can also be a great way to spend a lot of money — without getting any results. If you’re unfamiliar, pay-per-click advertising (PPC for short) is an online tool that allows you to serve a message to your audience based on search terms or demographic information, depending on the platform you’re using. As the name suggests, you only pay when an audience member clicks on your ad. In EducationDynamics‘ Enrollment Management Services group, we create and execute PPC campaigns that drive enrollments for colleges and universities. In short, we help our clients get the results they want (new students!)— and we help them avoid wasting a lot of money on PPC ads.
Already know how to set up higher ed paid search campaigns? Next, download this advanced guide authored by our Chief Marketing Officer, Michael Flores, on the Essentials of Pay-Per-Click Marketing in Higher Education.
Interested in learning how it’s done? Here’s a look at 7 steps for running higher ed pay-per-click campaigns that actually work.
1) Decide on an Objective Running objective-less PPC campaigns is one of the biggest mistakes a university can make. Yes, brand awareness is a good thing, but you will want to hammer down on a more concrete objective. For example, a natural objective for universities is lead generation. Take a look at your typical leads generated in any given month, decide the amount by which you want to see leads increase, and then run a targeted PPC campaign that’s designed to help you reach that objective. Essentially, you want to target an audience and use your ads to get audience members to take a specific action — fill out a contact form, request more information, signup for an event, etc.
2) Pick a Platform Google is the best-known PPC platform, and it’s the platform that we most often help our clients use. But you can run PPC ads on other search engines like Bing and Yahoo, as well as on social media platforms like Facebook. Only you can decide what platform best fits your objectives. And don’t be afraid to try out several platforms as you get started with PPC ad campaigns. In time, you’ll find the platforms that deliver the best results and the most value for your investment. Of course, when you work with a higher education marketing agency, you gain access to real-time insights on what’s working and what’s not working for universities around the country. We spend more money with Google AdWords than any other buyer in the education industry, and with that large investment comes a great deal of experience and knowledge that we can share.
3) Decide How to Target Your Audience
It’s almost scary how finely you can target your audience with PPC advertisements. You can choose to serve your ads only to users in specific geographic locations — specific cities, states or countries. You can also choose to target ads to users who are searching on different types of devices — serving your ads based on operating system, to smartphones only, etc.
When you choose to create PPC campaigns with Facebook and similar social media platforms, you get a chance to target users based on their interests and profile information. You can filter an audience based on gender, age, location, interests and myriad other factors.
4) Create Your Keyword Lists and Ads
Every step in the PPC campaign process is important. That said, you want to spend an inordinate amount of time creating your actual ad and the landing page that it will send users to after they click.
You’ll need to conduct significant keyword research before you start writing your ad text. Look for keywords and phrases that your prospects might be searching for, and also identify negative keywords that you don’t want associated with your ad. For example, you may want to target users who are searching for “universities in Ohio” — but you don’t want your ad to show up when someone searches “worst universities in Ohio.” You can set the latter as a negative keyword, ensuring your ads do not show up in that term’s result pages.
After you identify the right keyword or phrase, embed the word or phrase in a unique and interesting message that includes a clear call to action.
5) Craft the Perfect Landing Page
As noted above, perhaps the two most important steps in executing a PPC campaign are creating the actual ad as well as the landing page where the ad sends users who click. The importance of crafting a quality ad might be obvious — but far too many universities overlook how important the landing page is to their ultimate success.
A quality landing page should create a seamless and cohesive experience for your audience. It should provide comprehensive information and a clear next step for your audience members to take — a step that is fully aligned with your campaign’s objective.
Oh, and make sure your landing page is responsive — especially if you’re targeting users on smartphones or tablets. There’s no better way to thwart your PPC success than sending mobile users to a landing page that doesn’t render properly on their devices.
6) Set a Budget and Schedule Your Ad
PPC campaigns are so helpful in part because of the control you have over the process. You can schedule your ads to run only at certain times of day over a set period, and you can choose to turn them off once you’ve hit a spending threshold.
Schedule your ads to maximize their impact. For example, studies show that teenagers naturally stay up later and sleep later than adults. So consider scheduling ads to run later in the evening, and never run them first thing in the morning.
You should know from experience the times of day and the days of week when you get the most inquiries from prospective students. Lean on that experience to schedule your ads.
7) Track Your Results
There’s a fair amount of trial-and-error when you first start running PPC campaigns. So make sure you’re tracking your results — and tweaking your campaigns in response to those results.
In time, you should gain a clear picture of what platforms work best for you, how much you need to spend to meet your objectives, the days of the week and the times of the day when PPC ads are most effective, plus other important insights. But you won’t be able to leverage those insights if you’re not carefully tracking your campaigns.
Accelerate Your PPC Success
You can hire new team members who focus on PPC ads. You can go through the trial-and-error phase to perfect your campaigns. And you might, in time, start seeing progress toward your objectives.
You can also choose to work with an expert that is running PPC campaigns for universities each and every day, which means you immediately accelerate your PPC success. At EducationDynamics, we know what works and what doesn’t — and we can quickly get you started with a PPC campaign that delivers results.
Want to see your university grow with more targeted marketing? Partnering with EducationDynamics allows you to grow without having to expand. Learn more about EducationDynamics’ Higher Education Marketing offerings today. Contact us today to learn more about successful PPC campaigns for universities.
* Download the full 2018 Online College Students report from Aslanian Market Research and The Learning House here: http://learn.dev.propaganda3.com/education-dynamics/online-college-students-2018]]>