Marin Software is the only application on the market whose every feature focuses on improving the performance of each and every campaign. Marin is focused on increasing ROI, and that is what matters most to a search-driven online business like ours.”
Director of Media Operations
Education Connection is a free service that matches students with accredited online and campus-based colleges around the country that are ideally suited to their unique academic and career interests, financial resources and lifestyles. Unlike Web-only matching services, Education Connection has experienced admissions advisors to answer questions over the phone. Education Connection also offers free advice on different types of degree programs, financial aid, and career planning.
Education Connection primarily uses two marketing methods to drive traffic to its website: television commercials and paid search. The company has created a sophisticated, integrated program that leverages the unique strengths of each channel to maximize site traffic and conversion. Education Connection runs a variety of different TV commercials, each targeted to slightly different audiences such as people interested in study from home or hourly workers looking to earn more with an advanced degree. Each commercial mentions a unique “vanity” URL, such as www.collegeinpjs.com or www.schoolasap.com, which leads to a corresponding Education Connection micro-site. The company’s paid search program targets searchers who are broadly interested in matching services as well as searchers attempting to find one of the many micro-sites that have been advertised on television. This allows the company to increase the accountability and effectiveness of television advertising by integrating it with paid search.
With paid search driving upwards half of all site traffic, the team at Education Connection decided to invest in a software application to help measure and manage the company’s most important acquisition channel. The marketing team was creating hundreds of landing pages and micro-sites a week to align with different television spots, each with their own keyword campaigns, unique creative, and tracking URLs. As a result, the manual effort required to create, manage, and bid these keyword campaigns, limited the amount of time the team could spend on high value optimizations such as testing creative, refining keyword match types, or adding negative match terms. Education Connection needed a robust application to manage and optimize its increasingly complex paid search marketing program – one that would allow it to not only improve efficiencies for the team, but also help to measure and manage the impact offline TV ads have on paid search traffic.
Education Connection implemented Marin Software to manage its large-scale paid search marketing program. The company chose Marin based on the strength of its market-leading platform, proven technology, and hands-on client services support. Education Connection uses Marin Software to create, manage, and optimize its paid search programs – leveraging Marin’s sophisticated analytics and reporting to measure the impact that TV commercials have on site traffic and overall conversion. The company uses Marin’s segmentation capabilities to group the vanity terms by brand across leading search engines regardless of campaign structure, automatically building out URLs and bidding these terms to defined cost per lead targets. The marketing team also uses Marin to measure how landing pages for different micro-sites and vanity URLs perform across all three engines – fine-tuning creative of low-performing landing pages based on what’s working on top-performing pages.
In addition, Education Connection uses Marin Software to drastically reduce the time required to build out and manage their campaigns across Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Using bulk upload and multi-edit capabilities the team can easily deploy a new campaign across multiple publishers at the same time, leveraging automated bidding to accurately predict the right price to pay for each keyword in order to meet defined cost-per-acquisition goals. By running comprehensive reports on campaigns by position, minimum bid, cost, CPA and other metrics, Education Connection is able to then adjust bids upwards or downwards based on daily trends, the timing of TV commercial spots, and seasonal surges in education searches.
Education Connection has achieved impressive gains in click-through and conversion rates, as well as overall marketing ROI as a result of deploying Marin Software. The team has seen direct lift from Marin’s sophisticated bid tools, as well as time savings that have been reapplied to bid strategy, creative testing, and landing page testing. Education Connection has been especially successful in leveraging Marin Software’s advanced segmentation capabilities to measure and optimize the cross-channel impact of TV commercials on paid search – enabling the two marketing channels to work in tandem to increase overall traffic and conversion.
The Education Connection team has always known that television ads drove downstream searches for vanity terms such as “college in pjs” and “school asap.” However, by optimizing bids to better align paid search ads with television air time, the Education Connection team was able to drive markedly better performance for these terms than the more general keywords in their campaign such as “grants” or “MBA degree.” Overall, vanity terms achieved a conversion rate 12.6% higher than general terms, as a result of offline influence and smart manipulation of bids.
What’s more, Marin Software enabled Education Connection to improve the performance of its entire paid search program – across all keywords on all engines, including both vanity and general terms. This resulted in higher overall click-through and conversion rates at a lower overall cost per acquisition – a true win-win for the marketing team.