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Utilizing the Landing Page Conversion Formula in Higher Education – Part 1 – Motivation

By November 19, 2013 No Comments

Higher Education, and specifically online Higher Education, is an extremely competitive industry. According to a recent study completed by WordStream, the keyword category “Degree” came in at #8 of the top 10 most expensive keyword groupings within Google Adwords.
This is nothing new, as the cost to compete in the online degree marketplace has slowly been increasing over the last few years. Traditionally for-profit colleges have dominated much of the online advertising landscape, but as more traditional universities move towards offering online programs, costs to compete have continued to increase.
Many universities simply still setup basic Adwords campaigns targeting degree related keywords and drive traffic to the homepage of their university’s website.  Based on industry averages, that university is probably paying anywhere from $10-$50 a click, and probably converting that traffic to lead at around 2%. So what that translates to is a CPL range of $500-$2,500…..wow.
Even if they are driving program specific traffic (keyword: online masters in public administration) to a dedicated micro-site, they are probably not converting that traffic to lead much higher than 4%. When you factor in around a 2% conversion rate from lead to students, that student still costs $12,500 to generate just in marketing dollars.
So what is the answer to this? Unfortunately there are certain realities surrounding a Google Adwords campaign, Google just isn’t going to cut your CPC in half because you were able to increase your CTR by 20% or your quality scores across the board.
The answer to this is one of the most overlooked aspects of internet marketing: figure out a way to convert the expensive traffic that you are generating to lead at a higher rate.
This article is going to be part one of a four part series that focuses on something called The Conversion Formula, a heuristic that is backed by years of testing and data. It was created by Marketing Sherpa, and has been the basis for the creation of any successful landing page over last five years or so. This formula will point you in the right direction when looking to build a set of landing pages for your program, and could help you cut your programs cost-per-lead in half.
Here is the The Conversion Formula:
C = 4M + 3V + 2 (I – F) – 2A
C = Probability of conversion
M = Motivation of the user
V = Clarity of the value proposition
I = Incentive to take action
F = Friction elements present
A = Anxiety elements present
Within this blog post I am going to touch on M, or motivation of the user. The idea behind this is that you must create a landing page that matches the original intent of a user, otherwise your user is not going to complete whatever conversion process you put in front of them.
A basic example of this would be if someone Google’s the phrase “online MBA program” and clicks on one of your Google Adwords ads that mentions that your institution offers an online MBA program. When the user arrives at your website, the page they land on talks about all of the online programs that your university offers, and simply just lists your online MBA. Well considering that the page includes limited information on the online MBA program, and no information on why your program is different from the other 500 online MBA programs out there, the user is probably going to bounce (leave without completing an action).
For an audience segment as important and expensive as potential MBA students, you must create dedicated assets that speak to them directly. A user must arrive at a page that matches their original intent: to learn more information about an Online MBA that is offered by your institution. They don’t want to learn about any other programs apart from that MBA, so why put irrelevant information in front of them?
Motivation is a very broad element of the conversion formula, but is the most important first step. While it might seem obvious that you need to customize a landing page for what the user is looking for, many marketers will focus solely on driving traffic and not nearly enough on the user experience once they arrive at a site.
Here is an example of a program that does a very good job of optimizing their whole conversion process for the user:
Keyword “education law degree” generates a dedicated advertisement. Once a user clicks on that advertisement, they are driven to this page:
The next part of this series will touch on V, or clarity of the value proposition. The value proposition is the unique selling point to your program, or why a potential student should move forward with your program over a competitor’s.

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