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Pay-Per-Click marketing continues to grow in use by higher ed institutions, particularly as a tactical marketing tool in highly competitive geographic areas where private for profits compete head to head with the public community colleges. Executive MBA programs are another area where the university marketers are battling it out for prime position in search engine results pages. For the right price, PPC marketing can put your ads in front of your target audience, ahead of your competitor’s organic or PPC ad, giving you top ranking position for lucrative keywords. The challenge with PPC is to ensure that you are getting a reasonable quantity of quality leads that ultimately convert to registered students, at an acceptable rate that will give you the Return On Investment (ROI) to cost-justify the campaigns.

Google’s Adwords Extensions are enhancements to your ads that extend the functionality or content provided in the ad into a number of useful areas. They provide valuable “lift” that can help you to improve the ROI on those campaigns and meet those goals.

Map extension

This extension allows you to provide a map to your institution, right beside your ad. If a visitor clicks on the “Map of …” link at the bottom of the ad, the map on the right will appear, providing a guide to the student to your location. This extension is particularly useful to school’s marketing when geographic proximity to the school is an important student decision factor.

map ext

Additional website links within your site extension

This extension allows you to provide links to additional pages on your website within the ad itself. In the example below, this college, which has multiple campuses across Canada, has embedded direct links to campuses in different provinces, allowing searchers to immediately click through to the provincial level of details that are relevant to them.

link extension

Click-to-call a phone number extension

This extension provides a button within mobile PPC ads to click to call an institution’s inbound call centre. This mobile extension allows the prospective student to simply click, through the ad, to speak with a school representative to obtain the information that they are searching for.

click to call

Connect +1s from your Google Plus page extension

Authority and trust elements are very important in all types of advertising. This extension presents your Google Plus +1s number to your target student audience in your ad. This scenario provides one more reason why you need to add Google Plus to your mix of active social networks, as Google continues to build a tighter link between social “authority” and search.

google plus

Mailing list extension

This extension allows you to collect email address for your newsletter or mailing list, right up front through your PPC ad. This option enables a new strategy for PPC advertising. The extension might be used to collect emails for follow up information, to be added to a general mailing list or for an upcoming event notification like homecoming or alumni conference.

email ext

Live chat extension

The live chat extension puts your live chat link directly in front of your customer in the search ad. Live chat is beginning to be implemented on more and more higher ed websites but unfortunately I was not able to find an example of a college or university using this related feature. Here’s an example from the world of ERP software.

chat ext

If you are currently running PPC campaigns, we recommend you take a little extra time to learn about these extension options to enhance your efforts. They will definitely help you increase your return on investment on what can be expensive, (but necessary), PPC advertising.

If you’ve used Adwords Extensions in your higher ed campaigns we would love to hear about how successful they have been for you. Which have given you the most dramatic results? Which ones have been most successful? Which would you recommend against and for what reasons?


Google Support: Enhance your ad using extensions

SEOMOZ: 6 Ways Google Ad Extensions Can Improve your Adwords Campaign