Marketing your school / university online, you will have considered, or been offered, advertising using Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. PPC is fast becoming the most important advertising channel for international education.
Before considering allocating precious marketing budget, it’s important to understand exactly how PPC works. Here we look at PPC options in an important market such as Turkey.
Google AdWords is the most well known PPC advertising channel, taking 90% of a £3bn market in the UK alone. Organisations and businesses bid on relevant keywords for their ad (paid-for search result) to be shown to users searching for those exact or approximate terms. As it’s a PPC model, advertisers set budgets and pay every time a user clicks on their ad. Your Adwords PPC campaign puts you in the listings you see in the top and right panes of your Google search results, with the first 3 being those advertisers who have the best combination of bid amount and landing page experience.
Depending on how competitive your search term is, you’re likely to have to bid quite highly to get seen alongside your competitors.
In the international education sector, using our Turkish example, search terms such as ‘yurtdışı eğitim’ (international education) or ‘yurtdışı yuksek lisans’ (international masters degree) are among the most popular search terms, making them the most expensive keywords to target for advertisers. A Turkish student or Turkish parents tend to search for education abroad before any specific country, so yurtdışı eğitim produces more clicks than Ingiltere’de eğitim, for example.
To consistently appear in the best sponsored result positions advertisers need to spend thousands on PPC advertising, spend which in reality is only feasible for large companies with a range of products (international courses, schools, colleges) to direct the enquiries towards. If you are a British university or language school, only a small fraction of the enquiries generated from the most productive keyword campaign will be usable or stand a chance of conversion. However, for a global education provider like EF, or a larger agency with many international partners, serious investment in PPC makes more sense. Such companies also benefit from greater economies of scale and better advertising rates based on the volume of business they put Google’s way.
Landing Page Experience
Aside from the amount you are able to bid for certain keywords, Google rates the landing page for quality of user experience, taking into account things like content relevance, bounce rate, conversion optimisation (calls to action), engaging features such as search facilities, comments or ratings, videos and clean navigation.
It is therefore important to be able to provide localised landing pages, optimised in the right language for people searching in the target country. Each keyword or phrase that you are paying for must, therefore, link to a landing page that is relevant to that keyword or phrase. A generic ‘Turkey’ page on your website, for example, is unlikely to provide an optimised landing page for specific keywords searches such as ‘ingilterede dil egitimi’ or a whole range of specific searches from students searching on Google.
SEO and Organic search results
For most school and universities, search engine optimisation (SEO) seems like a more cost-effective and realistic option to increase enquiries. By working to get your site listed organically on search engines, you can get your business seen without a prohibitive daily spend.
The reality is however, that investing in a competitive website with appropriate content, optimised in the right language, with effective link-building practices, that can match local (e.g. Turkish) websites will also involve considerable manpower and investment, which is usually beyond the reach of 99% of universities and schools.
Outsourcing PPC Advertising Management
Many schools and universities have found a solution with in-market specialist sites that are able to provide the local expertise and technical capabilities to produce better Return on Investment from PPC advertising.
Staying with Turkey, Studybritish.com combines optimised, localised content about study in the UK with a regular organic each of 5000 visitors per month. A school or university will have unlimited opportunity for landing page creation to tie-in with Google PPC advertising. Local teams manage the PPC campaigns, ensuring optimised results in terms of CTR (click through rates) and CPC (cost per click), and ultimately gold: serious student enquiries.
Outsourcing online advertising in this way harnesses local knowledge and enhances advertising results many times over. Studybritish.com has helped language schools and universities to conduct online PPC advertising (with detailed reports at the end), while they have focussed on the daily business of student recruitment channel management and student satisfaction. In the near future, most online advertising in international markets will be outsourced in this way, as it is specialised, accountable and reportable.