Education Connection, a free online service that matches students and their career interests with online and campus-based colleges, created an integrated campaign with the two primary channels it uses to drive visitors to its web site—TV commercials and paid search. The campaign boosted traffic, return on investment and conversions, says Jennifer Klein, Education Connection’s pay-per-click manager. She believes the campaign could be a model for others that advertise online, including online retailers.
Education Connection, a subsidiary of EducationDynamics, reached targeted consumers in three ways. First, it created landing pages with a specific vanity URL, such as collegeinpjs.com. Then it created a 60-second video on YouTube mentioning the phrase “College in PJs.” Then, to get the word out about the phrase, and to prompt consumers to type it in search boxes, it created a TV commercial mentioning this unique URL and keyword phrase.
While the TV commercials were running, creating buzz around College in PJs, Education Connection bought paid search ads on that phrase across Google, Bing and Yahoo to capitalize on searchers attempting to find the micro-site advertised on TV. In addition, the company used search engine optimization to make sure the micro-site and YouTube video appeared in the top organic search results when a shopper typed in the phrase.
Education Connection also deployed Marin Search Marketer, a search-management application that offers campaign features such as automated bidding, analytics and customized reporting. When Education Connection launched a new campaign and the corresponding microsite, the software automatically added tracking codes to the keywords, managed the keyword bidding and uploaded the paid search ads to the search engines. Education Connection segmented the keywords associated with each campaign, using the software to measure its results against other campaigns.
The conversion rate—the customers that clicked on the ad and wound up using the matching service—was 12.6% higher on paid search terms that were part of the programs than the company’s general terms, such as “MBA degree.” Click-through rates on the special paid search terms were 20% higher than for general terms, and the program also helped Education Connection lower its average cost per acquisition from paid search by more than 33%, Klein says. The company is satisfied with the results and plans to continue building upon this marketing approach, she adds.
“With the advent of sophisticated search and tracking technologies, advertisers are now able to tie offline ad dollars to online commerce,” Klein says.
Matt Lawson, Marin Software’s vice president of marketing, says online retailers should look for ways to track ads and promotions from offline to online. For example, online retailers may want to integrate a coupon code in a TV spot as a way to track conversion rates, increased traffic and return on investment, he says.