The Main Result:
Decreased average cost per student lead across four graduate and undergraduate programs for a private university between 39% and 90%.
Step 0: The Set Up
The private university wanted new student leads through a RFI (request for information) form on program specific landing pages.
The “sales” cycle of a student, especially for graduate programs, can be up to 18 months. It’s imperative they have a pipeline of new students for the next and following semesters.
The project had some innate hurdles:
- The RFI form was longer than a typical lead get form, had several specific fields that were required by client in order to qualify and filter leads
- No creative production/editing in scope; limited to a couple of static images provided from client (often generic student shots) I couldn’t receive additional creative for retargeting ads, it was just different copy.
- We were required to run Facebook, Search, and Display for every program. Budgets could be slightly adjusted but could never completely stop one tactic (no matter the performance).
No immediate feedback due to lead time length, limited creative options, higher
Let’s dive into it.
Step 1: Planning and Launch
Since there are several different programs we worked on, I’ll cover the general approach.
The main lever that I WAS able to pull was ad copy variations. That and audience targeting.
I constantly tested short, medium, and long versions.
Audience targeting was a mix of interests and custom audiences based off of past inquiry lists for each specific program.
Step 2: Ad Management and Optimizations
Again, not too many levers to pull here but being able to determine which of the 1-3 images provided was resonating the best (often between male and female students, solo vs group shots) was often one of the things I’d look at.
Another thing that was awesome was leveraging CBO (campaign budget optimization) + broad LLAs (lookalike audiences) for a campaign that came in the middle in 2019.
Short, medium, and long ad copy variations were always about even in terms of leads produced depending on audience and program.
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Step 3: Results and Takeaways
Facebook, Search, and Display ads were run depending on the program. Below is the overall cost per lead (CPL) and then a Facebook specific breakdown for when I took over campaigns and made changes. The ad budgets ranged from ~$10,000 – ~$30,000 over 12 weeks, typically.
Program campaign #1
Before campaign pause: $272.49 average cost per lead (CPL)
After campaign pause: $105.78 average cost per lead (CPL)
= 61% decrease in average CPL
Before pause: 13 leads, $189.46 CPL
After pause: 34 leads, $77.68 CPL
= 162% increase in # of leads, 59% decrease in CPL
Program campaign #2
Before campaign pause: $554.33 average cost per lead (CPL)
After campaign pause: $339.73 average cost per lead (CPL)
= 39% decrease in average CPL
Before pause: 14 leads, $590.27 CPL
After pause: 22 leads, $173.71 CPL
= 57% increase in # of leads, 71% decrease in CPL
Program campaign #3
Before campaign pause: $561.80 average cost per lead (CPL)
After campaign pause: $52.51 average cost per lead (CPL)
= 90% decrease in average CPL
Before pause: 3 leads, $634.46 CPL
After pause: 23 leads, $52.51 CPL
= 767% increase in # of leads, 91% decrease in CPL
Way more successful than last year’s campaign already [when a different entity managed the campaign]. Never have seen results this fast.– During a client call
Program campaign #4
Before campaign pause: $463.47 average cost per lead (CPL)
After campaign pause: $250 average cost per lead (CPL)
= 54% decrease in average CPL
Before pause: 19 leads, $241.22 CPL
After pause: 47 leads, $46.73 CPL
= 247% increase in # of leads, 81% decrease in CPL
Different programs, undergrad, grad, limited STATIC images, and little control over the copy/design on the landing page and was able to produce more leads for the university.
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