The Power of CRO and PPC for Higher Education

If you’ve ever wondered about the power of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) for higher education have we got a story for you. It’s a story with a happy ending – the very best kind in higher education web marketing in which goals are surpassed, and cause and effect are clear.

Setting the stage

In the spring of 2015, VONT received a call from a university in the northeast. Inquiries for its Master’s in Nutrition program were down significantly over the previous year – so much so that the university was greatly concerned enrollment would likewise be down. They asked VONT if anything could be done to try to get things back on track. VONT’s recommendations for SEM, landing page optimization, and remarketing efforts worked together, and within 6-weeks the number of inquiries had increased dramatically. As a result, the program not only hit its yearly goal for enrollment – it surpassed it.

Taking advantage of upside potential

So what did VONT do? The team began the new campaign by researching the upside potential for the university’s existing paid search and remarketing campaigns, and examining the search impression share. (Search impression share is the percentage of total impressions for a given keyword that were delivered based on the media budget and other factors.) The VONT team discovered that for the previous six weeks, impression share was less than 28%, which meant that by increasing budget and bids there was the potential for significantly more impression volume.

With client approval, monthly spend was immediately increased in order to expand the number of impressions. For the period of increased spend, impression share rose to 46%. The increase in impressions tripled the amount of leads over the previous month.

Reaching higher education CRO potential

At the same time VONT also recommended the client execute the following recommendations to optimize the landing page for the nutrition program in order to increase conversions:

  • Place conversion action above the fold
  • Create well-defined call-to-action block
  • Use concise call-to-action sub-headline
  • Only ask for essential information in conversion form
  • Create distinctive call-to-action button
  • Provide clear secondary and supporting CTAs
  • Include visible contact information and trust marks to generate trust
  • Use succinct headline with keyword relevance
  • Create easily scannable benefits
  • Add video to provide content support and RTB (real-time bidding)

The university made the essential improvements and immediately experienced an increase in organic and direct traffic that it had not received before.

Remarketing hitting potential

Often the most efficient source of leads is remarketing. Fortunately for the university, its remarketing campaign was already running to its full potential. Spend-to-cost ratio was maximized effectively and was already generating the most leads possible. VONT recommended continuing the remarketing campaign as it was.

Surpassing the goal

VONT ran the scaled-up campaign for six weeks. By the end of the period, leads for 2015 exceeded total leads for 2014 – after trailing by over 30% just six weeks earlier before the campaign began.

The last minute leads delivered a significant number of applicants and enrollment numbers before the program started in fall. All told, the university had not only made up inquiry and applicant numbers, but fall enrollment exceeded their goal for total enrollment by 30 students.

The takeaway

When you are trying to hit a student recruitment goal, it’s important to leverage resources from all digital sources. The combined efforts of increased spend for SEM, increased conversion rate optimization (CRO), better search engine optimization (SEO), and a maximized remarketing campaign worked together to not only recover lost ground, but ultimately surpass yearly enrollment goals.

About VONT Performance Digital Marketing

At VONT we believe that change is the only constant in the digital world – and that excites us. Over the years, digital marketing has played an ever-growing role in higher education recruitment. From lead generation for inquiries, campus visits, and applications to increasing brand awareness and student yield – digital marketing and ongoing optimizations can have a significant impact on the objectives that confront today’s higher ed marketer.

We believe in this idea of continual fine-tuning so much that we named our company VONT, which means to achieve exponential improvement in incremental steps. It is our core belief, and the reason why we are not simply a web design company or simply a digital advertising agency, but rather a long-term, single source partner providing a comprehensive array of web development and digital marketing capabilities for higher education clients.

In short, we’re here so that our clients achieve success in the ever-changing digital world. If you’d like to learn more about VONT and the work we’ve done with our higher education clients, visit our Work page. Or, if you have a question, contact us. We’ll get right back to you!

Heidi McInerney
Written By

Heidi McInerney

UX Writer | Digital Content