PPC Mistakes Institutions Make in Higher Education Marketing

Robert Wheat

Senior PPC Strategist

Pay per click campaigns are effective tools for student recruitment, but only when they’re not filled with mistakes! Unfortunately, there are many areas for errors to be made, such as when setting up campaigns, targeting an audience or allocating your budget. Even one simple glitch can cause your PPC ads to be directed toward the wrong people, running through your budget with no real results.

If you feel that your PPC ads are falling short, you’re probably making one of these common but upsetting mistakes. We’ll explain what each one is and how to fix it.

Mistake #1. Higher Education Goals are Not Clearly Defined

The last time you set up a PPC campaign, were your goals clearly defined? This may sound obvious, but many higher institutions jump into PPC without defining their direction. As a result, schools may target the wrong location, bid on the wrong keywords or create ads that don’t speak to the right audience.

Before you launch a PPC campaign, take time to write out your goals. Be as specific as possible. Here are a few questions to consider.

  • What courses or programs are you looking to promote?

  • What audience are you speaking to?

  • Are you targeting a specific location?

  • When do you want to accomplish your goal?

Mistake #2. Higher Institutions Don’t Use Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are words you want to exclude from your search. For example, an ad for an education course might show up in a search for education jobs. Adding words like “jobs” and “positions” to your negative keyword list will prevent this from happening. Some schools even use negative keywords to stop their ad from being shown to low quality prospects such as “free” or “discount”.

Mistake #3. PPC Campaigns are Not Aligned with the School’s Goals

Each paid search campaign should help you reach the overall goals for your school. For example, if you want to increase leads from a select geographic area, consider geotargeting. Geotargeting your campaigns ensures that ads are shown to the right audience while being conscious of the time and date.

If your goal is to increase conversions, it’s most effective to run a retargeting campaign. This allows you to reconnect with prospective students who have visited your site but didn’t convert. You may also want to rank for certain keywords, so be sure to conduct the necessary keyword research as well as optimize the ad’s content with the language that appeals to your audience.

Mistake #4. Schools Don’t Create Custom Landing Pages

Another mistake that higher institutions make is not creating custom landing pages for their campaigns. When a student clicks on your ad, they should be directed to a specific landing page that addresses their needs. Sending prospects to your homepage is a lost opportunity. This page is too general and will probably leave your prospect confused, sending them away.

Mistake #5. Higher Institutions Don’t Bid on their Name

Many schools assume that they don’t have to bid on their own name, but it can be a costly mistake. If you don’t bid on your school’s name, your competitors might. Typically, these are schools that offer similar programs as yours, or may have a similar name as yours. Bottom line: Don’t let other schools take over your branded searches.

After reading through these common mistakes, do you feel that you’re making any of them? If so, you can easily make the adjustments and create stronger PPC campaigns.

About the Author: Robert Wheat

Rob was born and raised in Freehold, NJ and is currently a PPC Strategist at SEMGeeks. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Ramapo College. Rob is experienced across all PPC platforms, including Adwords, Facebook, Amazon, and more. During his free time, Rob can be found on the golf course yelling at his golf ball to cooperate, but it never listens.

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