How can we better compete with the University of Phoenix in paid search?

For-Profit Education Company

The Challenge

 Our client in the ultra-competitive online education business was falling short of enrollment goals because they could not compete with the University of Phoenix and other top online universities for the most sought-after paid search keywords. The most profitable degree programs for online education were getting up to $100 a click on Google and Bing, and Phoenix was the consistent #1 in those categories. Could we develop a strategy to compete and drive incremental cost-effective leads?

The Solution

  1. Implement single-keyword campaigns for the best degree programs, e.g., Business, MBA, Finance, and Engineering.
  2. Create highly targeted landing pages to increase quality scores for the related keywords.
  3. Set aside a testing budget as proof of concept.
  4. Gather enrollment data by degree program to determine the lifetime value of a student.

Before this strategy, our authorized cost per lead (“CPL”) was a blended $180 per submitted application. This made it impossible to compete for the top keywords costing $100 a click. By segmenting the business by degree program, we could place CPL on a sliding scale and better optimize the monthly media spend to capture more applications.


Tools Utilized

  1. C3 Metrics
  2. Kenshoo
  3. Google Analytics
  4. MS SQL

Results Generated

  1. Lifetime value data modeling allowed an increase in paid media spending by 4x and significantly increased leads across top categories.
  2. The incremental media spend delivered 60% more submitted applications.
  3. Created a buzz with Google in the online education space as our client leapfrogged competitors to consistently be in the top three paid search positions.
  4. Generated multiple new business opportunities as word of mouth spread on success.