Google AdWords: A Primer on Higher Education Digital Advertising

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1 Google AdWords: A Primer on Higher Education Digital Advertising Hayley Supple Paid Media Specialist at Converge Consulting In higher education, your website is your storefront. Your goal is to get qualified traffic to your website and convert these visits into prospective students, increase the engagement of your alumni, and much more. Your website design and optimization tactics can sometimes do only so much this is where Google AdWords comes into play. Higher education is becoming one of the top industries using Google AdWords to drive traffic to their websites. More and more colleges are using paid search tactics to generate leads due to high search volume, specific targeting opportunities, and transparent tracking tools. However, simply building and starting a Google AdWords campaign can be costly if you have no experience running and optimizing previous search campaigns. The white paper below is a primer on Google AdWords one of the most popular paid advertising mediums in higher education. It will walk you through the process of setting up and building a search engine marketing campaign and will also advise you of the key strategies and tactics to consider when starting your campaign.

2 Getting Started You ve decided that you want to start a Google AdWords campaign now what? First, you will need to make sure you have a Google account or Gmail in order to move forward. Once you have that taken care of, go to adwords. google.com to get started. You will create a campaign, choose your budget, submit your billing information, and start building your campaign. Ad Groups Settings When it comes to deciding how to divide your campaign into different Ad Groups, the main things you ll want to consider are the differences you want to showcase in the campaign. If your landing page, keywords, or ad copy need to be different, you will want to use separate Ad Groups. For example, if you are advertising for a variety of MBA programs at your institution, you will want different keywords and ads relating to the specific programs and will also want your landing page to differ by program. By having your campaign split into more specific Ad Groups, your ads will appear more relevant to the Internet user s search query and your click through rate (CTR) should increase. Having a higher CTR helps improve your quality score, which can greatly benefit your campaign when it comes to positioning and cost per click (CPC). There are a variety of settings you can use for your campaign, with the more important ones being the campaign type, locations and bid strategy. campaign type With your AdWords campaign, you can choose to advertise on the Search Network, Display Network, or both. This decision is based on user preference. Some choose to advertise only on the Search Network because the ads are targeted specifically to Internet users who are searching for your keywords on the Google search engine. When advertising on the Display Network, your ads are eligible to appear on a variety of websites that are relevant to your keywords. In addition to your text ads, you can also create and/or use banner, video and other types of ads on the Display Network. If you aren t sure what networks are best for your campaign, start out advertising on both the Search and Display Networks, monitor the differences in performance, and adjust accordingly if needed. You could also consider running a separate campaign for each network if you want to better control how much you are spending. convergeconsulting.org 2

3 bid strategy When choosing a bidding strategy, consider how much time you will have to manage your campaign. If you plan on being very involved, you can select I ll manually set my bids for clicks. With this option, you will manually set cost per click (CPC) bids and are able to adjust them frequently based on performance. If you do not have as much time to manage your campaign, you can select bidding options where AdWords will set bids based on your budget or conversion goals. You can also create your own unique Flexible Bidding Strategy to target a specific position on the search results, maximize click counts, and more. You can also utilize ad scheduling to control what time of the day and/or day(s) of the week you want to advertise. It s recommended not to set specific ad scheduling when first starting your campaign; once you have sufficient data on the performance of your campaign, setting specific ad scheduling may make more sense based on traffic and conversion rates. Ads locations When deciding on the location targeting for your campaign, consider the goals of your campaign and also characteristics of your institution. For example, if your institution does well with attracting prospective students locally, focus your advertising on geographic areas you want to draw more students from. On the other hand, you can analyze your current student body to determine the likelihood of where you believe prospective students will come from and then base your location targeting on that. When writing ads for your campaign, there a few key things to keep in mind. relevancy You want the ad to be as relevant as possible to your keywords and landing page. Keep in mind what you are trying to advertise and rely heavily on your keyword list and text from your landing page when developing ad text. grammar, punctuation, and capitalization Make sure your ad text makes sense and is free of grammar errors before going live with the campaign. Be consistent with what words you choose to capitalize, and don t forget you can use only one exclamation point per ad. call to action schedule You can utilize the ad scheduling option to set start and end dates for your campaigns. This is commonly used in higher education when advertising for events such as open houses, grad fairs, webinars, and more. It is important to include a call to action in every ad so prospective students know what you want them to do next. When determining what call to action to use, keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish with the campaign. Request More Information!, Apply Today!, and Schedule Your Campus Visit! are examples of calls to action that are frequently used in higher education. convergeconsulting.org 3

4 multiple ads It is important to create at least two ads per Ad Group in order to test and evaluate what ad text and strategies work best for your institution. Some things to test out are different descriptive phrases, different calls to action, and dynamic vs. static ad headlines. Keywords Ad Extensions Ad Extensions are a great tool to use when creating campaigns. Ad Extensions are additional features that can appear with your ad in order to help differentiate your ad from your competitor s ad. The Ad Extensions most commonly used are location, call, sitelinks and social extensions. Setting up these Ad Extensions is pretty self-explanatory, but there are some important things to keep in mind. When developing your keyword list, use your landing page and Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool to develop keyword ideas. It is important to also use your personal knowledge and common sense. For example, what keyword phrase would you search when considering a masters in accounting? Some other keyword strategies to consider are using different keyword match types and geographically modified keywords. As your campaign runs, use the Search Query Report to determine which searches are leading to visits to your website. Based on this information, consider adding keywords and negative keywords, or deleting keywords that are not performing well. Audiences Ad Extensions appear more often with your ad when you have top ad positioning. While location and call extensions can be triggered at any ad position, sitelinks are triggered only when they appear in top positions due to top placement formatting. For this reason, it is imperative to consider this when determining your bids. Ad Extensions can significantly improve your click through rate (CTR), which can lead to a higher quality score. A higher quality score can benefit your campaign in a variety of ways, including better positioning, a lower cost per click (CPC), and more. The Audiences tab is a newer feature in Google AdWords where you can use remarketing lists to cater search ads to Internet users who have visited your website before. With your remarketing list search ads (RLSA) you can create customized ad text, adjust bids and use broader keywords to target these Internet users. RLSA can be confusing and requires coding be inserted on your website I suggest listening to the Google+ Your Business webinar Improving Your Search Campaigns with Remarketing Lists for Search Ads before trying this out with your campaign. Dimensions You can use the Dimensions tab to segment campaign reporting in a variety of ways. Segment the reporting based on time of day, user location, search term, and more. Then use this information to optimize your campaign accordingly. For example, if you see that your ads receive the most impressions between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., use ad scheduling to allocate a higher percentage of your campaign budget during this time frame. convergeconsulting.org 4

5 Tracking Regardless of what you are trying to accomplish with your campaign, it is important to track results for future analysis. You can use Cconversion tracking within Google AdWords or use Google Analytics to track online conversions. You can also set up a Google forwarding number to monitor the calls you are receiving from your AdWords campaign. Analyze and compare your conversion metrics to your costs to help you make future advertising decisions. In Conclusion When building and optimizing your campaign, it is important to keep in mind that there are not necessarily right and wrong ways to do things. As long as you track and measure your results, it is good to test out a variety of ideas based on the goals of your campaign. About the Author Hayley Supple is a Paid Media Specialist at Converge Consulting. Before joining Converge, Hayley worked for a large marketing firm where she handled over 200 paid media campaigns for small and medium-sized businesses. Hayley s focus is to not only be dedicated to her clients marketing needs, but to also find creative, innovative marketing solutions that set them apart from their competitors. Hayley earned her B.B.A. in Marketing and an Entrepreneurial Management Certificate from the University of Iowa.

6 Here are some of my favorite resources when it comes to learning about search engine marketing trends and staying up-to-date on new and upcoming Google AdWords features. Webinars Learn with Google Webinars - experienced/webinars WordStream Search Marketing Webinars Hanapin Marketing - resources/webinars Blogs Search Engine Journal - Search Engine Roundtable - PerryMarshall.com - PPC Hero - WordStream - Websites Google Trends - AdWords Help Center - support.google.com/adwords/ Twitter Search Engine Land Google AdWords PPC Hero White Papers Navigating The Google Display Network: How to Succeed & Gain Conversions Hanapin Marketing AdWords White Paper: Getting Maximum Value from AdWords Pay-Per-Click WordStream Bid Like a Pro: Strategies for Success with AdWords Enhanced Campaigns whitepaper Google Books Google AdWords For Dummies by Howie Jacobson Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords by Bryan Todd KeywordSpy - Google AdWords Ad Preview and Diagnosis adwords.google.com/d/adpreview/ higher education has changed are you ready? we can help. digital analytics inbound marketing research brand Contact us today to see how Converge Consulting can help you!

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