How to Create a Focused Content Strategy for Paid Search

In the age of security breaches and information leaks, internet users are wary to divulge their personal information online. With millions of sites offering up content for free, what will motivate users to dole out their name, email or phone number into a form that goes to who knows where? And in the world of higher education marketing, colleges and universities have to convince a rather tough bunch of people to reveal this information: millennials. Being a part of the millennial generation myself, I know that if I have the choice between researching on my own and filling out a form to request information, I’ll choose researching almost every time.

This millennial attitude poses a problem for higher education marketers focused on lead generation. The bread and butter of many paid search strategies is targeted lead generation, and campaign performance is measured not only by click through rate, but also by conversions, cost per conversion and conversion rate.

Paid search marketers must create the right call to action and the perfect value proposition to convince prospective students to ask for help—to get millennials to say, “Yes! I’m interested! Tell me more!”

So how can paid search marketers ensure that prospective students are not only clicking on their ads but also becoming leads for the school? With the use of a landing page or microsite, you can tailor your content strategy specifically to the medium of paid search.

Landing pages are standalone pages that specific, targeted traffic is driven to. While there may be links to other sites (such as the university’s main webpage), there is not a built out navigation to move from one piece of content to the next. A microsite is a small collection of pages that is meant to exist on its own from a larger site. On a landing page or microsite, potential students are given smaller, more digestible amounts of targeted information.

In the world of paid search, more information is not always better. Landing pages and microsites should stick to high-level information such as information about the campus, select top programs, financial aid availability and other key selling points and differentiators. This information should be appealing and informational, yet not too specific, so that it compels the potential student to want to learn more by filling out a form.

Additionally, the design of your landing pages/microsite needs to be conducive to lead generation. Each click that a potential student has to take past your landing page decreases the chance that they will eventually fill out a form. Ideally, the form should be prominently placed on the landing page (in both desktop and mobile versions of the site) and include as few fields as possible. If a potential student feels that there is too much being asked of them or the form is taking up too much of their time, they are less likely to complete it. More information can be gathered later once initial contact has been established. Finally, ensuring that your page design conveys that your college or university is a reputable institution will help perspective students know that their personal information is safe and will not be misused. Staying true to the college or universities branding will create consistency across mediums and build trust among your potential new students!

Cara Thistlethwaite

About Cara Thistlethwaite

Cara Thistlethwaite is a Senior Advertising Specialist at Fathom on the Education team. She is a 2014 graduate from the University of Dayton, where she majored in economics and marketing and minored in French. At Fathom, she works on both clients in the K-12 and higher education space, as well as several enterprise clients. She specializes in reporting, including customized excel reports as well as Tableau reports and dashboards. She enjoys utilizing data to explore solutions for her clients to help them grow their brand and profits to the highest potential.

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