The Recipe to Search Marketing Success in Higher Education

By Matter

Prospective students aren’t just surfing online; they’re living there. It’s important to implement a paid search campaign for your institution to ensure your school appears in the search results from the time students are conducting their initial search for colleges, to their last search before application. But how do you ensure your paid search campaign is successful? Driving success from a paid search campaign is no easy task, but managing a paid search campaign for a higher education client takes it to a whole other level. Higher education is different than other industries and requires a specialized level of management for several reasons. Higher Education is highly regulated, for example ad copy must meet strict compliance standards. Your strategy must also account for the long decision process since choosing a college is a very important decision, which should not and will not be made quickly. Additionally, with the amount of higher ed institutions in today’s market, competition is fierce. You always must be one step ahead or your student recruitment efforts will suffer. Here are five ways to drive search success in EDU:


#1: Campaign Structure

Deciding on your campaign structure can be the most challenging part in setting up a paid search campaign. The way you set up your campaigns will set the framework for running a successful paid search effort in the education space. Campaign structure must be established to maximize enrollments by segmenting campaigns into tiers so that the right message reaches the right prospective student at the right time. You must ensure your ad groups are structured in a way that will increase quality score and spend your budget as efficiently as possible. Google rewards advertisers with a high quality score by allowing them to bid less on keywords. So, the higher your quality score, the lower your cost will be.


#2: Keyword Research

Extensive keyword research is a necessity to learn how your prospective students are searching for you institution, programs, and courses. The keywords you bid on will determine when and where your ads show, so this is a very important step that you must dedicate time to. Competitor research is also an important aspect of conducting keyword research because it ensures you are one step ahead of your competition and can show prospective students why they should choose you over the other guys.


#3: Compelling Messaging

In today’s competitive online environment, messaging is everything. But with Google’s restrictive character limits, it’s not always easy to craft effective ads. Writing great ad copy requires a concise, but appealing message that highlights what your institution has to offer. Your ads must be crafted to connect with prospective students, nurture them as they conduct their research, and encourage them to apply. Ad copy must maintain your brand’s voice, while also speaking millennial’s language.


#4: Remarketing Remarketing Remarketing

Remarketing ensures you are connecting with prospective students that have already expressed interest in your institution, but have not yet applied. You can use cookies to tag users who visited your site and deliver additional ads to them if they did not convert. When you connect with these students at several online touchpoints, you can ensure your institution stays top of mind. Remember, it takes some students several months of research before they decide to apply to an institution so it is important to stay engaged with them throughout their college selection process. You can also leverage sequential remarketing to deliver prospective students with specific messages depending on what actions they’ve previously taken on your site. This ensures that your messaging is hyper-relevant and reaches prospective students at the right time in their college selection process.


#5: Optimization

Launching a paid search campaign is only the first step. In the education space, you cannot just “set it and forget it.” Once you launch your campaigns, you must constantly optimize to ensure you are generating as many quality leads as possible. Optimization includes changing keyword bids, conducting search terms reports, adding keyword expansions, and more. It’s also important to test new strategies and stay up to date on Google’s latest offerings and current trends in the EDU sector.


These five tips can help ensure your EDU search campaign is set up for success. Still have questions? Contact us today.