Marketing Your School’s Programs: Tips for PPC Success (Part Two)

03/28/18   |  
Ryan Segovich & Laura Schwelitz

Today’s students know where they want to end up and know the paths most likely to take them there. Capitalize on their confidence by marketing your school with a focus on programs. Capture the attention of goal-oriented prospects looking to enroll in your courses, their way. Part two of our series on program-focused marketing addresses how attention to digital marketing can separate your university from the crowd.

On the surface, paid search and display marketing hasn’t changed much since its inception. The same premise still applies: You promote your product or service by bidding on search terms and presenting your ad.

But for the online higher education marketplace, employing the basics isn’t enough.

Your target audience is savvy and varied. They know the cost of education as well as the value. And while you would like all the features of the online degree program to catch their attention, they’re more interested in the benefits (i.e. how your credit transfer policy means more than just graduating sooner, it means a new job or promotion and pursuing a life plan).
To effectively use pay-per-click (PPC) for marketing online programs, you need to subscribe to a new line of thinking – one rooted in knowing your audience and their motivations.

Search Relevance

Good search marketing is all about answering someone’s question and providing additional value. Program-specific search marketing using PPC gives you a unique opportunity to do just that. Your ad can address a prospective student’s query in the very moment they are actively looking for answers. 

This is search relevance and it is the best type of user experience you can offer:  Addressing your audience’s needs in the moment.

For example, if you are bidding on “online MBA no GMAT” it’s important to include the GMAT waiver text in your ad copy. This way, your ad is as relevant to the query as possible which will increase clicks to your landing page.   The next step is to include a compelling call to action to encourage prospects to find out more about the online MBA.

Bidding Strategy

For program-specific search marketing, you want to bid for the most visibility. Brand awareness driven through PPC tactics can have complementary benefits for your other media channels (search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-inquiry (PPI)). This is partly due to paid ads having the advantage of being delivered above organic search results. 

Even if users choose not to click on the ad, they will observe them. Reading headlines and taking note of eye-catching claims such as “No GRE”, “No Application Fee” and “Transfer 50 Credits” can lead someone to consider a brand they weren’t before.

Keypath takes bidding strategy a step further by coordinating our tactics with our partners to make sure we avoid cannibalizing the bidding efforts of on-campus programs. Consistent coordination ensures maximum ROI across a broad number of keywords.

A regional strategy is also applied for bid adjustments – this helps to make sure programs are more visible in specific markets that have a higher likelihood of converting. As noted in our previous blog post on Marketing Your School’s Programs, three-quarters of online students enroll in a program within 100 miles of where they live, and 55% choose one within 50 miles.

Landing Page Tactics

The final component is your landing page. It should deliver on the promise you’ve made to share further information about what is contained in your ad. This may require making an individual landing page just for this query.

You don’t want to serve a single catch-all page to prospects, hoping they’ll sift through it and find the information relevant to their search. Instead, use bullet points to make additional query-related information scannable for easy absorption.

Remember, a good user-experience should cater to the user’s intent and motivation. In this case, a search about “online MBA no GMAT” leads to an ad offering information and subsequently to a landing page that provides detailed information.

Additional Elements to Consider

Keep these tactics in mind when executing your program-specific strategy:
1.    Landing Page Synergy
Messaging used in your PPC ad copy should be reinforced – and expanded upon - on your landing page. You’ve got their attention (and you paid for it!) so make the most of it. 

2.    Keyword & Market Research
Before activating any ad campaigns, make sure that your keyword research is accurate for the program and that you have as complete a picture as possible about your target audience. Google lets you refine your targeting with many demographic elements, so use the knowledge you have about current and prospective students to find others with similar characteristics.

3.    Social Media Campaigns
Paid efforts through Facebook and LinkedIn should not be overlooked. It’s important to translate your targeting from paid display efforts into these mediums as well. These sites will have targeting features of their own that can improve upon your already refined audience segments.

At Keypath Education, we use program-specific marketing strategies to seamlessly connect with our partners’ existing efforts. By focusing on the specific elements and features that make a particular program unique, we’re able to work as an extension of your team. Leading to better results, faster. That means we extend your reach to more of the right-fit students.

Contact us to find out how we can help your institution deliver world-class online learning experiences.