A specialist Queensland University was struggling to generate a noticeable increase in new student enquiries and enrolments from PPC marketing. They had previously tried various Google AdWords strategies, but found it difficult to target potential students who were serious about studying, and exclude the huge number of people who were carrying out more speculative, informational, and career-related searches. The relatively long buying cycle of educational courses made it difficult to measure marketing effectiveness and ROI, so they contacted Calculate Marketing for assistance with their PPC strategy.


Highest ever student enrolments

How I helped

Wanting to focus largely on potential students who were closer to application, but still recognising that a lengthy buying cycle existed for educational courses and wanting to target potential students at all stages of the buying cycle, 26 campaigns were created with staggered levels of keyword qualification:

  • 3,169 ad groups
  • 17,156 keywords
  • 23,302 ad messages

Keyword themes which suggested the searcher was further in the buying cycle were given higher bid weightings and more direct call to action messaging, while more informative searches (typically made by people earlier in the buying cycle) were given lower bids with messaging to engage with the searcher more generally.

Since enrolment conversion data was limited due to the length buying cycle, softer secondary metrics were used for measurement and optimisation and to align the campaigns to maximise visitor engagement. 18 visitor audience segments were created based website action and recency of website visit, with RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) used to further engage with each audience as they later searched Google for more generic education-related themes. RLSA ads were then used to communicate upcoming open days and special events, promote the blog to help increase credibility, and help to reach visitors in relevant micro-moments as they progress through the buying cycle.

Campaign results

The staggered campaign structure worked well to skew click spending towards directly-relevant themes, while still engaging with searchers at all stages of the buying cycle with ad messages relevant the nature of their query:

  • CTR of over 15% for highly-qualified themes
  • CTR of over 5% for location-based themes
  • CTR of over 1% for more informational themes

The average cost per click (CPC) for highly-qualified themes was over 10x higher than for more informational and research themes, however since enquiry conversion rates and visitor engagement were also considerably higher, these higher CPCs could be justified. Without a campaign structure which separated keywords themes of a different nature, insights would have been lost in averages, making it difficult to align PPC spending as effectively.

Client results

Separating the keywords by qualification allowed the university to achieve almost full visibility on Google for the most highly-qualified themes, with RLSA and tailoring messaging responding to searchers at different stages of the buying cycle helping to increase repeat visits, online enquiries, and new student enrolments considerably:

  • 97% Impression Share for highly-qualified searches
  • 18% increase in return visits from PPC ads
  • Highest ever student enrolments after one year

Based on the success of PPC advertising, the university has since decided to use PPC as a core driver of website visits and new enrolment enquiries for its second campus location in Australia.

If you’re looking to closely align your PPC marketing with your business goals, please get in touch for more information.

    In numbers

  • weighted campaigns26
  • ad groups3,169
  • keywords17,156
  • ad messages23,302
  • audience segments18
  • 15x range in CTR
  • 10x range in CPC
  • 97% Impression Share for key themes
  • 18% PPC return visits
  • Highest ever student enrolments