PPC for Higher Ed Institutions – Pros vs Cons

In today’s highly competitive professional landscape, businesses, organizations, and educational institutions have more marketing tools — more ways to reach potential customers, members, and students — to choose from than they have at any other point in history. Consequently, the way these groups spread knowledge of their products and services is constantly evolving. To be sure, the way these groups spread knowledge of their products and services must constantly evolve if they wish to stay relevant.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one of the most popular, effective, and high-stakes forms of advertising, and as a result, it’s also one of the most commonly utilized forms of advertising. Specifically, many educational institutions—including well-known universities, specialty colleges, and even graduate schools—have turned to PPC advertising to reach qualified potential students.

Other educational institutions yet haven’t made the jump (or a serious commitment to) pay-per-click advertising, because of concerns relating to both its cost and effectiveness. The following pros and cons of PPC advertising will help these institutions to decide whether or not the marketing type is suitable for their goals and needs, and additionally, these pros and cons will help institutions that previously adopted PPC to tailor their marketing campaigns to be as successful as possible.

Pros

Proponents of PPC marketing aren’t shy about touting its positives, and these perks are, objectively stated, valuable.

Verifiable, Quantifiable Results

Before the age of the internet, marketing professionals didn’t have many ways (besides sales, sign-ups, and/or increased foot traffic) to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns. That’s a stark contrast to today, as marketing experts can review the exact number of impressions (or the number of times computer, phone, and tablet users are shown a specific advert), clicks, and conversions (sales, sign-ups, and inquiries following clicks) of individual advertisements. With this information, they can then understand—and tailor—their marketing efforts. Many marketing departments are equipped with statisticians and/or consult the services of data analysis firms.

With PPC advertising, educational institutions don’t have to worry about whether or not their campaigns are receiving the desired amount of support. The precise click count of each campaign can be accessed in seconds, and underperforming campaigns can be promptly discontinued. Moreover, the advertising form’s name—”pay-per-click”—provides all the information one needs pertaining to cost. Unless an advert target clicks the advertisement, the advertiser won’t be charged. Especially for marketers who’ve been billed excessively for impressions in the past, this is a major perk.

Numerous Targeting Options

PPC advertising is also unique in that it can be tailored for very specific (and likely interested) target audiences. Banner, pre-video, and print advertisements are relative shots in the dark, and furthermore, they are charged to advertisers regardless of their effectiveness. With PPC advertising, the gender, age, interests, location, and social media activity, amongst other things, of the target audience can be specified, and only these individuals will see the campaign at-hand. Additionally, the type of device one uses to search the web, the time one browses the internet, and other factors can also be added to PPC advertising campaigns.

The sum of these targeting options is an unparalleled opportunity to reach potential students.

Cons

PPC advertising, like any form of marketing, isn’t without some possible hang-ups.

Potential Difficulty Reaching the Desired Audience

One of the most common complaints pertaining to pay-per-click advertising is that reaching the desired audience can be difficult, both as a result of sparse initial results and an overflow of subsequent clickers. For instance, a heavily tailored campaign may attract few clickers. This campaign’s requirements may then be loosened (perhaps additional keywords will be added, or geographic location expanded), and an influx of clicks will follow. However, many of these clicks, it may later be revealed, didn’t come from the precise intended audience.

In short, PPC advertising’s specificity is one of its most appealing characteristics, but it can lead to some unintended difficulties if ample research isn’t conducted by marketers before debuting a campaign. PPC advertising platforms will display ads to any of the individuals who aren’t excluded by a campaign’s specifications. It’s the responsibility of advertisers to study keyword viability, timing, and pricing outlook long before a marketing campaign is revealed to the public. Failing to do so can be costly in more than a monetary sense.

Competitive Pricing

Marketing professionals who’re targeting a low-demand audience need not be concerned with competitive PPC pricing; their concern should probably be focused upon attracting clicks.

But other individuals (and, to be sure, most higher education marketers) will need to consider the marketing form’s competitive pricing before budgeting a campaign. The process behind this pricing is simple: one inputs the campaign specifics and the price per click that he or she feels comfortable paying. Most PPC advertising platforms highlight the current cost per click for the intended audience before a campaign begins. The problem is that other individuals, companies, organizations, and schools that wish to target this audience (or a similar audience) can input a greater amount per click, and their ads will be shown before—or in place of—others.

During the year’s peak marketing stretches—the summer months and before the holiday season, generally speaking—PPC pricing can become relatively expensive. And higher education institutions’ main target demographic, 17- and 18-year-old high school students happens to be one of the most in-demand of all demographics.

These pros & cons should help higher education marketing officials to develop advertising campaigns that suit their institution’s aims. Pay-per-click marketing is valuable, effective, and most certainly worth considering, but like many forms of marketing, precision is key, and the intended and desired results will only be brought about if pre-campaign planning and research are in-depth and detail oriented.

Still have questions? Ready to launch your own PPC marketing campaign? Contact us today to see how Banner Edge can help get the most out of your marketing spend.

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