Paid Advertising

4 Tips To Crush Higher Ed PPC Campaigns

6 minute read

The #AMAHigherEd symposium is happening this week and marketers working in higher ed from all across the country have set foot in Florida to attend the 4 day conference while some of us remained in cloudy Boston *whines*.

If you’re someone working in higher ed marketing you know that paid search can play a very important part in your top of funnel marketing. Whether you’re attending the event or you’re someone who is looking to improve your paid search campaigns these 4 tips will help you become a crusher.

Tip 1: Exclude Your University’s Geo & IP Address

With Google Ads you can target locations all the way to the zip code level. One thing you’re going to want to do is make sure to not pay for search results from current students. This is likely to happen if your paid search campaigns include branded terms.

The best way to exclude location is at the Zip Code level and the most efficient exclusion for a higher ed institute is to exclude the zip codes where a campus is present.

Another effective way to make sure we aren’t using prospecting budget for current students is by excluding IP. This way if a current student is using University wifi he won’t be served ads when searching for keywords we’re bidding on. We do this all the time: excluding the inSegment IP and our clients office IP to make sure we’re not shown ads we’re paying for.

Tip 2: Phrase Match & Broad Modified Keywords are Our Friends

Running a PPC campaign with just exact match in higher ed is incredibly hard. This is because usually the person who is searching can get really specific or technical when it comes to their degree requirements.

Phrase & broad modified match types also helps you look into search terms and get new keyword ideas you would have never thought of when setting up your campaign! This has happened to us a lot, especially when dealing with more technical degrees. These will have search terms that are specific to the searchers interests that won’t necessarily show up when we’re doing the keyword research for the program.


Tip 3: Applicants Love Mobile Devices!

If you haven’t yet optimized your website or landing pages for mobile devices that should be at the very top of your to-do list! It’s no surprise to us that mobile devices perform extraordinarily better compared to desktop. Why is that? Studies show that people performing searches in mobile have much higher intent than desktop. Think With Google agrees and makes that clear in their piece about mobile search behaviour data.

Google also rewards advertisers who think mobile first. There is a lot you can be doing to improve your mobile experience and this is rewarded by paying less for keyword bids and a better user experience is rewarded by lower costs per conversion.

If you’re keen on improving your pages for mobile the AMP Project is the first place you should look. AMP is an open source project that was put together by Google and Twitter designed to make mobile pages really fast. The way it does it is by offering a bare minimum version of HTML. The AMP page states that conversions fall by 12% for every extra second a page takes to load.

Tip 4: Target Students In-Market!

Audience Type CTR Avg. CPC Cost / conv. Conv. rate
Technology Education In-market audience 3.99% $5.22 $49.64 10.53%
Post-Secondary Education In-market audience 4.46% $4.41 $107.75 4.09%
Business Technology In-market audience 4.19% $4.51 $137.48 3.28%


The above data comes from an observational audience setup for an analytics course offered at a higher education institute.

Audiences interested in Technology Education have the highest conversion rate among the three. They also have the highest CPC but that’s because this audience is likely to have been searching for more technical keywords that usually have higher bids.

We can positively bid adjust for this audience to make sure we’re maximizing their potential impressions. If we’re limited by budget we can do this and still maintain a good cost/conv as this in-market segment has a cost/conv that is half of the second best audience which is interested in post-secondary education!

Need help crushing it?

Not everyone is a natural crusher. This is where inSegment comes in. If you were at the AMAHighedEd conference this week and you’re looking for a quick consult on your search campaigns we’d be glad to do so! If you’re seeing this too late or didn’t manage to attend the event but still want to be a crusher then get in touch!