Thursday, March 28th at 3 pm EDT

Six Signs Your College Can Get More ROAS from Its Digital Marketing Strategy

You’ve probably heard the phrase “spend money to make money.”

You’ve also probably heard the phrase “don’t throw good money after bad.”

When does the first one become the second? When does your ad spend overtake your revenue generation? Put in dead-simple terms: How do you know when you’re paying too much to help students discover your school and enroll?

These are the questions at the heart of great digital marketing. The term “ROAS,” or “return on advertising spend,” describes this metric. If you’ve heard the business term “ROI” (return on investment), this is the same idea.

Want to know whether you’re crushing it with your ROAS or if you may as well be flushing your dollars down the drain? Here are the biggest signs that your college could be getting more ROAS from its digital marketing strategy.

Sign #1: You Have No Idea What Your Cost Per Lead Is

Pop quiz: What’s your cost per lead (CPL)? Dead-simple terms again: How many dollars and cents are you spending to get qualified prospective students aware of and interested in your college?

If you have no idea, you’re not alone. Most colleges don’t know their cost per lead, much less their cost per enrollment. But don’t worry; we can help.

More Students zeroes in on this metric. It’s a great diagnostic tool you can use to perform a gut check on your level of ad spend. A comprehensive digital marketing overhaul necessarily starts here.

If you’re not diligently tracking your cost per enrollment, there’s no possible way to know if your marketing is working or not. Hint: If you don’t know your CPL, you’re not likely to be pleasantly surprised when you learn it.

Why is that the case? Google, Facebook, and other digital marketing platforms are exceptionally good at taking your money. We’re not calling them thieves; quite the opposite! If you have a smart, experienced, and cost-conscious digital marketer managing your ad spend, then you have an asset that’s worth its weight in saffron. A thoughtful plan and budget for your ad spend at those sites has a great chance of success.

But if you’re just winging it on these platforms, or if you have hired someone who has insufficient experience and/or no incentive to save you money, well, buckle in and prepare for some serious dollar hemorrhaging.

Sign #2: You Optimize Your Ads Monthly

As with so many things in life, failing to examine the big picture in digital marketing always ends in heartache.

By and large, digital marketing agencies optimize your ads once a month. Why? Well, tending to campaigns takes time, patience, and specialized skills. It can be all too easy to examine a sample of conversion data and assume that it tells the whole story.

Logically, you can see why that isn’t the case. Day of the week, time of day, and even month of the year can make huge differences in people’s search and conversion habits. One-time events—in the weather, current events, people’s individual lives, and more—can make our prospects either more motivated to search and convert or less.

When other agencies optimize your ads only once per month, your lead cost goes up. Ideally, your ads should be optimized weekly in order to truly grasp the trends and patterns that govern their performance data.

Sign #3: You Believe Tests Are Just for Classrooms

It’s not enough to analyze your data and create an advertising strategy. Think of your marketing like it’s a living, breathing organism—because you’re targeting people who are just that. The students you want to reach can make unpredictable decisions. They have moods and whims. Simply put, they are human.

That’s why you need to test, test, and test again with alternate versions of your ads and your campaigns. This is known as A/B testing, because you’re running one scenario (A) against another (B). Try to isolate and test one change at a time so you can more easily determine what factors have an effect on your ROAS.

Sign #4: You Have Only One Version of Your Website

Every single one of us likely spends hours a day on a smartphone. You research on the go, you click on links that people text or email to you, and you think of questions randomly on a sleepless night and reach for your phone.

Your prospective students are the same way, perhaps even more so—their generation has only ever known a hyperconnected world, so their phones tend to act as extra appendages for them.

That’s why it’s so important to optimize your landing page for mobile. Do you have a version of your landing page that loads quickly and looks beautiful on a tiny screen?

If not, you’re making a major ROAS mistake.

Sign #5: You’re Hooked on Google

Yes, we get it. Google is the most obvious place to run ads. We’re not saying it’s not important; of course it is. Google has invested absolutely mind-boggling amounts of money and brainpower into creating a search engine, a suite of products, and an advertising platform that is absolutely stunning to behold.

But here’s the problem: people using Google have a degree of motivation and awareness. As an example, let’s examine two prospects.

Our first prospect, Sofia, wants to become a nurse. She doesn’t know what nursing program she wants to enroll in, so she types her query into Google. Maybe she types “nursing programs” or “how to become a nurse” or “RN pros and cons.” The query doesn’t matter too much for our example. Sofia is “solution-aware,” and she can use Google to research how to find the perfect school for her and take the next step in her career.

Our second prospect, Liam, is unhappy in his dead-end, unfulfilling job. He’s not sure what other job he could switch to; he’s worked in one industry his whole career. He just knows that if something doesn’t change soon, he’s going to lose his mind. Liam spends a lot of time on Facebook engaging with career-related groups, sending messages to old friends about his dilemma, and liking pages related to his desire to change jobs. Unlike Sofia, Liam is problem-aware, but not solution-aware. He’s an incredibly nurturing guy who has always loved to do hands-on work, but it hasn’t crossed his mind yet that a career as a nurse could be a great fit for him.

Whereas targeted Google ads about nursing school would have reached Sofia, they never would have reached Liam. Google ads target people further down your sales funnel, and Facebook can reach people higher up your funnel, as well. That’s just a simple example to demonstrate the importance of looking beyond Google to maximize your ROAS.

The statistics support the danger of this “platform blindness.” In the education industry, over 60 percent of Facebook and Google ad budgets are wasted. The average college More Students works with sees a six-dollar return for every dollar of ad spend they deploy with us. We can help you analyze and optimize your ad spend pie—that’s our specialty.

Sign #6: You’re Taking Too Long to Contact Your Leads

Too many colleges overlook a cardinal rule of lead nurture: act quickly! Your odds of converting a lead grow exponentially the faster you respond.

Many firms are slow to respond to their leads, a fact that’s just insane. According to a BYU study about lead response management, 74 percent of companies take more than five minutes to respond to a new lead, and 64 percent of companies take more than an hour.

The early bird truly gets the worm: 35 to 50 percent of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

If you’re not calling your leads back as soon as you hear from them, you’re not getting the ROAS you deserve.

Have questions about your ROAS? Click here to contact an expert.

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By staying laser-focused we can help you avoid some of the money-sucking problems of working with generalist digital advertising agencies.

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