Pay-per-click advertising isn’t cheap, but it can be a powerful tool for conversion. Getting your higher education institution in front of the students who need your programs is a critical step to increasing your enrollments, and PPC helps you get their attention.
Here are 7 PPC tips for enrollment marketing that allow you to reach your ideal audience.
1. Your Branded Terms Already Generate Traffic
It may seem counterintuitive, but bidding on your own brand terms isn’t always the best strategy for reaching new students. Sure, it may help increase brand awareness for your institution or program, but it can also be an inefficient use of your budget. Why? Existing students who click on your paid ad to access your website every time they need to set up an advising appointment will result in you spending a lot of money on an audience who has already converted.
In addition, if prospective students are already googling your institution’s name, your website should appear organically on the search results for them to access. Because of this, save the branded terms for your search engine optimization efforts and get better results with your paid ads budget.
2. Speaking to a Specific Audience Gets Results
As with any advertising campaign, building your ads around your audience is the key to successful conversion. High school students start their college search with the help of advisors and family members, so they’re doing less general digital research where keywords might come into play. In some cases, the best way to reach high school students is by targeting their parents. Parents who want to help advise their teens on potential colleges will likely do research on their own, to confirm what college experience will be helpful for their children.
Your continuing education audience, on the other hand, might not know where to start when they’re looking for a place to continue their studies. That audience will be more likely to search for “online certification for [X]” or “degree program with flexible time management,” which are specific PPC keywords you can target.
No matter which audience you’re targeting, you want to make sure that not only are your campaigns targeting the right keywords, but that your ads themselves, and the landing pages they link to, utilize words and imagery that speak to your ideal audience. Getting the right message in front of the right audience will ensure a better conversion rate for your PPC efforts.
3. Speaking about a Specific Program Gets Results
Specificity is the key to getting results. Keywords like “college degree” or “master’s degree” are so general that your results will get lost in the shuffle of degree programs. You’ll be more likely to reach an interested audience if you use words that relate to specific programs or courses that your institution offers and the problems they help your audience solve if they enroll.
For example, in Greenstone Media’s partnership with Shorter University, we focused their advertising on audiences interested in Christian Studies, Human Services, and Sports Management. That specificity allowed them to connect with prospective students who wanted to study those programs, and who were closer to conversion thanks to their program interest.
4. Target the Right Audience with the Right Messaging
The journey to turn a prospective student into an enrolled student has several different steps, and it requires different types of messaging at different stages.
When prospective students click on your PPC keywords, it’s important that you have a clear brand message throughout the enrollment funnel. From ad, to landing page, to lead generator, to followup emails, a clear and consistent message will help engage your audience and build trust with them as they go from lead to enrolled student. Greenstone Media’s Clear Brand Message service specializes in ensuring that the words you use, whether in ads, social posts, or on your website, speak to the problems your audience is facing, and position your institution as the guide to help your audience get what they’re seeking.
5. Timing is Everything
In an enrollment funnel, timing is everything. Prospective students clicking on your website for the first time don’t want an “Apply Now” message before they know what your institution is all about. Figuring out exactly how this timing works is tricky, which is why Greenstone Media offers an Enrollment Funnel service that ensures that the content you put in front of your audience matches their stage of the enrollment process.
For example, prospective students who see your PPC keywords are usually at the top of the funnel and not always ready to enroll right away, but will respond positively to relevant and useful content that helps them in their search. Once you’ve engaged them, you can build their interest with nurture emails and information sessions before encouraging them to apply or enroll, thus increasing the chance that they will enroll instead of moving on.
6. Everything Should be Phone-Friendly
Mobile usage is only going up, which means it’s more important than ever for your digital marketing to be optimized for mobile access. You can quickly check this right now: search your institution’s website on your mobile device and see how everything looks. Is the font readable? Can you still navigate it with ease?
In terms of PPC, with mobile usage going up, mobile PPC bids can be a worthwhile investment for gaining audience attention. Consider the audience you’re trying to reach. Are you wanting to reach potential students within a 100-mile radius or students across the globe? If you’re trying to reach an audience closer to you, consider how they might be using their mobile devices to search for what you’re offering and tailor your ads strategy and landing page designs to accommodate those mobile searchers.
7. Keep an Eye on the Time
Just like the school year, PPC has an on-season and an off-season. Utilizing these PPC tips for higher education is most effective when you plan your marketing campaigns for the times when your audience is actively searching for education programs.
For example, a few months before enrollment opens may be the time when people have their education plans in mind, and are looking for programs like yours.
While off-season ads may be cheaper (less competition = lower bids), Investing in high-traffic times can guarantee that you reach an audience who is actively looking for what your institution offers, is more likely to “buy”, and can help you beat out the competition in the process.
Greenstone Media Can Help Your PPC Enrollment Marketing
Are you ready to increase your enrollments with more effective marketing? Learn more about how to reach potential students through higher ed paid ads and other enrollment marketing strategies on our blog. Or, if you’d like to chat with us about how we can help you use these PPC tips for higher ed, pick a time to meet here!