About Thomas More
Thomas More is the largest university college in Flanders, offering a wide variety of Dutch-language bachelor degree programmes, with 13,300 students and 1,400 employees. The college follows the philosophy of the English humanist Thomas More. The word “more” also refers to more course programmes, more regional spread, more co-operation agreements as well as more, and widened, horizons.
The goal was simple. Thomas More wanted more new students. The focus was on all 46 degrees offered, with a primary focus on those courses that were hard to fill. They wanted – and we agreed – to use Google Adwords, remarketing and display, plus Facebook – which they ran. Furthermore they wanted to know if advertising had an impact on the amount of students applying for Thomas More.
Our Translation of the Goal
Recruiting new students is seasonal. August and September are key: that’s the money time – and that’s when the campaigns had to happen. We initially focused on search engine advertising (SEA) through Google Adwords, because Thomas More contacted us quite late. Search engine optimisation (SEO) could have had an initially negative impact on results before going positive, too late for the season.
Through SEA we could attract traffic from people showing an active interest in degrees. These search campaigns were supported by remarketing campaigns – through banners for instance – and display campaigns. We targetted websites accessed by students, such as YouTube.
The school’s site already has high traffic from existing students. We had to cut them out of the campaigns. We wanted to steer the campaigns towards acquiring actual new paying students. We devoted most resources to degree courses running behind recruitment goals, and worked in close collaboration with Thomas More on this: budgets were re-allocated every three weeks, depending on results.
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Metrics we Measure
We measured the amount of students registering.
We measured the actual amount of students enrolling.
Constant monitoring of the Return-On-Investment for Thomas More.
From Goal to Action
We took over this account from another agency, and we wanted to compare performance using the same key performance indicators (KPI) as in the past, to ensure like-for-like comparisons, so we made adjustments to Google Analytics and Tag Manager.
The big job was the new campaign structure, based on the information of campaigns from the past and from our own research. We increased keywords covered from below 4,000 to more than 45,000. The campaigns were divided per department – on marketing, business or education qualifications for instance – making it easier to assign budgets and switch campaigns on or off, as needed. We wanted to see how performance of the various campaigns were going. Is the offer on construction courses better than that for the language courses, for instance?
Much traffic came in the past from keywords related to jobs, vacancies, courses and training. That didn’t help Thomas More. At BossData we believe that segmentation is key. That means building campaigns that are as specific as possible related to searches. We increased the amount of excluded keywords by 138% since they were generating a negative ROI.
Next we built display and remarketing campaigns that focused on detailed targeting on a departmental basis. The remarketing campaigns for example were focussed on specific courses that were difficult to fill.
SEA Conversions Rate
Display Conversion Rate
The new level of segmentation that we implemented boosted results massively. On Google searches we registered an increase of 369% in the number of conversions compared to the previous year. The cost per conversion dropped slightly while the overall conversion rate increased by 25%.
For Google Display, for example, we measured an increase of more than 35% in conversion rates and more than 100% in the number of conversions. All in all the ROI from the campaigns increased and we were very successful at attracting more relevant traffic for Thomas More via our SEA campaigns. Initial goals achieved – and there’s more still for us to do.
For us the SEA campaigns functioned as accurate market research for SEO, which is our next step. We now know exactly which the important keywords are for Thomas More, which keywords were positive and which were negative. Alongside SEO we believe conversion optimisation is an aspect that really needs immediate attention.
We believe if we use a more commercial approach – emphasising the benefits of Thomas More for instance, with reviews from students and their subsequent employers – on the website we could convince many more potential students to study there. Besides SEO, email marketing could be a very powerful tool for Thomas More. We are now looking at ways to integrate email capture better into their website.
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