Digital Marketing Health Check | Week #3 | Google Ads Health

Digital Marketing Health Check | Week #3 | Google Ads Health

Download the Schools Marketing Toolkit

Today is the third part of our Digital Marketing Health Check eight-part series and we will be looking at your school’s Google Ads health. Google online advertising is part of our top layer, all the ways that you draw attention to your college and promote your college.

We will be going through our 60 point checklist, remember to score your school as we go. It’s perfect timing if you’re planning for your 2019 marketing strategy, this is basically your to-do list for your digital marketing plan.

You can get the toolkit with the checklist on my website, it’s

Hello everyone, welcome to week three of the Digital Marketing Health Check for your school. Today we are covering Google Ads, formerly known as Google Adwords. In the first week of our Digital Marketing Health Check, we looked at the health of your school’s website. The second week we covered your Facebook advertising accounts and all the elements you need for success there. And today we are looking at your Google Ads account.

If you haven’t done so already, you can download the 60-point checklist that we are working through here. Each week we ask questions regarding a particular element of your digital marketing. It’s available in the Schools Marketing Toolkit, as well as a whole bunch of resources to help you market your school.

If you haven’t done so already, you can join the group for school marketers, it’s called Marketing Mastery for Schools. Let’s get started on your Google Ads health check.


Account Access

The first thing that we’re going to look at when it comes to your Google Ads account is, do you have access to any of the campaigns that are running? I mentioned this point with your Facebook advertising and it’s something that I see again with your Google Ads account, is that when some agencies set up their advertising for you on your behalf, they actually are setting it up under their own account instead of creating ads under your account. So make sure that you have full access and that ads are being created under your account. This is good for accountability, you can actually see how much you are being charged per click and not relying on the agencies reporting, and also it helps you to build a history within your account and if you ever have to stop advertising with them then you won’t lose all of that hard work and foundational work that you’ve actually paid for.

Account Structure

The first thing that you need for a successful Google Ads account is to have a really tight net account structure. Make sure that your agency is setting up keywords within similar categories. For example, if you have a desire to advertise for prep enrollments, make sure that all the keywords have the word “prep” in them and are then kind of categorised and bucketed into an ad set for prep enrollments. So we’re not going to have one ad set that’s going for prep enrollments, one that’s going for secondary enrollments, one that’s looking at kindy and things like that. You want to kind of structure all the related keywords together. And you can segment according to interest, so things like prep enrollments, or you can segment according to geographical areas that you want to target. It all depends on the results that you want to achieve.


The next thing that you’ll need for a successful Google Ads campaign is to have your account actually measuring conversions. It’s similar to the way Facebook measures conversions, except Google Ads groups all your conversions into one bucket and it measures all ads to see if they get any conversions. One thing to note about conversions from Google Ads versus conversions from Facebook is Google search ads are targeted towards people that are looking to take action now. So someone is looking for a prep school to enrol their child in, they click on your ad, you should see a conversion from them. You do pay a high cost per click in Google Ads, but the intent is a lot higher in terms of the traffic that you’ll get from Google advertising.

Landing Pages

The next thing that you need is a great landing page. And the landing page should follow that same account structure. For example, with your ad set for prep enrollments, you would then create a specific landing page for that ad set that mentions the keyword “prep enrollments” and has a photo of prep students. Customise your landing page exactly for that ad set. What Google is looking for here is that continuous flow of intent. Your keywords have the word “prep” in them, your ad copy has the word “prep” in it, and then your landing page also has “prep students” and uses the “prep” keyword. If you have that consistency then your account will be set up correctly. As you can see, there’s quite a lot of work involved. If you have five or six ad-sets for your school there’s quite a lot of work involved in terms of creating landing pages specific to the copy that you are writing.

Optimisation – Negative Keywords & Culling

Once your account is neatly set up, you will need to have someone go into your account on a weekly basis and optimise your account for the best results. The way to do that is to remove keywords that are not working for you. You can see the search terms that people searched and how they found your ad and remove any keywords from your campaign that aren’t generating results. You’ll also need to go and look at the ads that are being shown a lot and maybe even generating a lot of clicks but aren’t actually creating any conversions and you would need to remove those, create new ones, and optimise your account on an ongoing basis.

Split Testing

The next thing that you need for a successful Google Ads account is to set up split testing. The same concept as we have with Facebook, you’ll want to have at least two ads per ad set. Another distinction that we need to make when it comes to Google online advertising is that you’ll also want to run separate ads for mobile and desktop. That way you can compare how mobile is performing versus desktop. Things that will influence that are the mobile-friendliness of your website and things like that. If you see you are getting much better results on desktop you could switch off mobile advertising or vice versa.

New Keywords

Now, if you keep your account very clean and structured you will soon notice that you start culling keywords and ad sets that aren’t working for you, so your campaign will get more and more precise but it’ll also get more and more narrow. We need to keep that volume up, so we want to be continuously adding new keywords and new ideas to our campaign so we can keep refining our results but then also growing and trying new things in our Google Ads account. Google Ads thrives when you are consistently updating and tweaking your campaigns.



Google advertising is quite labour-intensive, there’s a steep learning curve, but there is a lot of opportunity for schools marketers when it comes to Google Ads because it’s considered to be a non-competitive niche when compared to other service offerings. Schools are getting low cost-per-clicks and those clicks, as I’ve mentioned before, show really high intent for enrollment.

If you have the checklist, make sure that you go through each of the questions that I’ve asked for your Google Ads account. You should have about a 20% conversion rate on your landing pages, you should have a landing page for each keyword. Work through those questions and make a to-do list for your Google Ads campaign. Thanks for tuning in, I’ll see you next week for part 4 of the Digital Marketing Health Check for your school.

Digital Marketing Health Check | Week #2 | Facebook Health

Digital Marketing Health Check | Week #2 | Facebook Health

Download the Schools Marketing Toolkit

Hello everyone. Today is the second part of our Digital Marketing Health Check eight-part series and we will be looking at your school’s Facebook health. Facebook advertising is part of our top layer, all the ways that you draw attention to your college and promote your college.

We will be going through our 60 point checklist, remember to score your school as we go. It’s perfect timing if you’re planning for your 2019 marketing strategy, this is basically your to-do list for your digital marketing plan.

You can get the toolkit with the checklist on my website, it’s

Hello everyone. Welcome to part two of the digital marketing health check for your school. Today we are covering Facebook advertising.

If you haven’t joined the Facebook group already, it’s Marketing Mastery for Schools. We’d love to have you in the group.

We will be working through our 60 point checklist. Today we are going to be covering your Facebook advertising specifically. If you’d like to download that checklist, you can download it at the link here.


Facebook Ads Manager

So the first thing I want to mention before we get into the all the points about our Facebook advertising is access to your Facebook Ads Manager.

This may sound obvious that if you are doing Facebook ads, you should have access to your ads manager. There is an industry trend where these bulk agencies that do mass amounts of Facebook advertising are actually telling our clients that, “well you pay x amount every month, we’ll run the ads for you and give you a report”, and there’s actually no accountability in terms of access to an ads account.

This is really detrimental for schools for a few reasons. The first reason is really important, but you are giving away your pixel data if you are giving the agency access to your ads manager, and you don’t have access. Anyone you give access to your ads manager can use your pixel data. The best practice would be for you to set up your Facebook ads account in Business Manager and then to add them as a User, and then you can actually grant them access to different levels of your data. You can give them access to your pixel, ad account, or ads manager, and you can revoke that access once they have finished with your advertising account.

Another reason is that Facebook actually balls the history on your Facebook advertising. So if you’ve had one badly-performing advert after the next, guess what, your next ad is gonna bottom out as well. So you really want any work to be done in your Facebook ad account, so that’s building a history for you, and it’s using your pixel. And then you can ensure that that pixel is not being shared with any other ad accounts and used for their benefit.

Another obvious reason is that you want accountability in terms of; if they said they’re gonna spend $500 on your Facebook advertising, that they actually spent that $500.


When it comes to successful Facebook advertising, the first thing that you need is to have the Facebook pixel installed on your website. There is a little bit of code that is provided to you by Facebook when you set up Ads Manager, and that needs to be on every single page of your website so that it can feed information back to Facebook.

Conversions Setup

The next thing that you’ll want to have is conversions set up. A lot of schools say “Oh, we had a fantastic Facebook ad. We had 300 link clicks, and only a dollar per click.” That’s great, but the only way you’re really going to know what results you got is to have conversions set up. To set up conversions you will need to have a unique URL where people are sent once they’ve taken the action you want them to take. Say, for example, it’s booking a tour or registering for an open morning, you would want to redirect them once they take that step to a unique “Thank you” page, then set that up in your ads manager as a conversion.

Optimise for Conversions

The next thing that you’ll want to do is actually optimise for conversions. A lot of these Facebook ads that I’m seeing, or auditing for clients, are actually link-click ads or engagement ads, where they say, “Great, we had 300 clicks on our ad, it did fantastically,” and they have no data beyond that.

Well, surprise, surprise, Facebook is actually great at sending non-valuable traffic through to your website, getting you lots of clicks, but no actual result for your money. The only way to really move away from that and to start reaching high-quality audiences that are likely to be really interested in your college is to create ads where you optimise for conversions. That means that Facebook will start to work at which audiences respond well to your ad. They’ll work with the pixel and the conversion page that you set up. And it will put that data together and say, okay, we need to reach this audience and this is the deal, cost per click, that we’ll be targeting for.

The way to optimise for conversions is the first step when you set up your ad. You’ll have to choose a campaign type. You’ll have different options like, ‘video views’, ‘engagements’, and then you’ll also have conversions. So set up the conversions campaign, and you’ll have to choose a conversion action that you’re optimising for.

Take a Layered Approach

The next thing that you’ll need for your Facebook advertising is to take a layered approach. This is something that I see so often, is that a school will have an open morning coming up, and then they’ll say, “Okay, well we have a month to go, let’s talk to everyone in our local area, it could be the right age group, females, and let’s advertise our open morning,” and they have a fantastic video or a landing page to register for the open morning, and that will be the end of their campaign.

That’s actually a very expensive way to advertise on Facebook. Because you’re essentially talking to a really cold audience that hasn’t heard about your school before, and telling them to take a really committed action and actually come and spend a morning with you for your open morning. You’re not gonna get a really great cut through with that. I’ve done a really detailed post on this before on my blog and in the marketing group. If you want to go and look at that, I explain how to take a layered approach to your advertising and to have top-of-funnel ads, middle-of-funnel ads, and then bottom-of-funnel ads. Have a look at that post here if you want more information on that, but I’ll always recommend that you layer your approach in your advertising.

Build Audience Buckets

Building on that is the next point of building audience buckets. For the top of funnel ads, you’ll be targeting a cold audience, but then you can re-target people that are engaging with your ads and you can re-target them based on if they watched your video, if they clicked through to your website, if they’re on your email list, if they’re engaging with content on your Facebook page. Then you can re-target them to take actions like, “Book an open morning” or a school tour. You should continuously be building audience buckets, and bare that in mind whatever you are posting to Facebook. A lot of schools treat their website and their Facebook page as a communication tool to parents. But my approach is to use it as a marketing tool for new enrollments and to have separate communication channels for your actual parents, such as groups and separate parent portal websites.

Split Test Ads

The last point when it comes to your Facebook advertising is to split test your advertising. This is another thing that I see, is that schools will have one advert that they test, and they may even test it with different audiences. But best practice in Facebook advertising, to get the best results, is that you need to actually split-test the creative and the copy that you are using, and the call to action. In order to see what angle works for your audience. What really speaks to the heart of your audience? So whenever you are creating an ad set, I would create two ads under your ad set, and split test them each until they have about 5,000 impressions. Then you can choose a winner from those 2 ads, and Facebook will clearly show you which one is working better.

Even if you think you have a fantastic ad, duplicate it, choose another image, and see which one works better.



I hope that helps with your Facebook advertising, remember to download the 60 point checklist and join the marketing group, Marketing Mastery for Schools on Facebook. On the checklist you’ll have all these questions you can work through, I have 9 questions for your Facebook advertising. It’s perfect if you’re planning your digital marketing for next year because if you are missing one of these steps, you have a great To-Do list for your 2019 digital marketing strategy.

Digital Marketing Health Check | Week #1 | Website Health

Digital Marketing Health Check | Week #1 | Website Health

Download the Schools Marketing Toolkit

Hello everyone. Last week, I announced that we are starting our eight-part series on a Digital Marketing Health Check for your school. Today is the first part and we will be looking at your school’s website because I feel that that is the most fundamental part of your digital marketing strategy.

Don’t send any paid traffic to your website until you can tick these things off that we’re going through today. As I mentioned last week, we have a 60 point checklist that we will go through and you can score your school as we go. It’s perfect timing if you’re planning for your 2019 marketing strategy, this is basically your to-do list for your digital marketing plan.

You can get the toolkit with the checklist on my website, it’s

The above image is the framework of what I’ll be covering. I briefly mentioned this in my video last week but the top layer is all the ways people are going to find out about your school, which can be Facebook ads, Google Adwords, Search Engine Optimization and SMS, things like that. And then the middle layer is your school’s website which we will be going through today. The bottom layer is how you engage those people to move from being just a nameless, faceless visitor on your website through to an inquiry and then through to an actual enrolment.

This is what makes schools’ marketing so unique is that it’s a long follow-up process and there’s a lot of nurturing and re-engaging that needs to happen. A lot of schools miss out on doing that so we’ll be going through that as well.

Own the Platform That You Sell On

So let’s get started on your website. The first thing that we need to have a successful school’s website is that we need to have a strategy that fundamentally enables us to own the platform. We all have these salespeople that come to us and say, “Oh, do billboard ads, do magazine ads,” they call us a few times a week and harass us to say, “You should try this new form of advertising.”

But my top recommendation for schools’ marketing is that you actually own the platforms that you advertise on. For example, putting a lot of effort into your school’s website and redirecting money into other forms of advertising, into your website where you can optimise it, make sure it’s converting the right way, it looks great, and it’s a fantastic resource.

Instead of investing in those digital listings, you know, there are hundreds of listing websites at once, 2 or 3,000 dollars a year for a listing on their site. Instead of spending money with them, why not invest in search engine optimization in your own website to get that same traffic directly to your school, instead of showing your school amongst hundreds of other schools. So that’s my first recommendation, own the platform that you sell on.

Mobile Friendly Website

The next thing that you need, the most crucial point that you need for your school website is it needs to be mobile friendly. This is called responsive design, and it means that when you look at your website on a mobile phone that it actually fits the screen, it’s easy to read, it’s easy to scroll down with one hand. It not only needs to be mobile optimised, but it also needs to be fast on a mobile device.

So Google recognises that most people that are browsing on their phones are perhaps browsing on data and so your website needs to be really light and data friendly as well.

Page Load Speed

The next important element that you need to look at for your website is the load speed. Now, school websites can get pretty comprehensive, and that’s great. But the most important thing for your website is that it needs to have a really quick load speed. So when you’re making decisions like should I have videos on my homepage? How many images should I have? It’s really important that you balance that with your load speed so your images need to be low on data and I would recommend that you go for a load speed under three seconds.

Anyone that’s using search engine optimization software, they would start getting warnings if any of your website pages were loading over three seconds. So keep the content light and simple when you are designing your website.

Contact Details

Now I know this sounds simple but we are going to be advertising your school to a range of audiences in the local area but some people may be travelling to the area. Already the first question on top of parents’ minds is, well, where is the school if they haven’t heard of you before? So make that really clear on your website, especially on the homepage of your website.

Another point when it comes to contact details is to have your telephone number directly available on the homepage of your website, actually every page of your website. I like to put the contact details on the top right because that’s the expected place that people are going to start looking when they want to contact and find you. You want to make it really easy for them.

Another thing to do, looking at mobile friendliness, is to have this number, be a click-to-call number so that people don’t have to go and copy the number into their phone.

Another thing to mention when it comes to contact details and when you are tracking individuals based on their behaviour on your website is you can actually give every user a unique telephone number so that you can start taking your tracking and analytics through to the phone number. That’s really handy when you have information on website usage but you don’t really know how that converts offline.


The next thing that you need for your school’s website is an opt-in. Schools will have different opinions on this based on their service offering, their audience and that’s okay. You can either have a download that’s available or you can have your prospectus and fees that’s available once people give their email address. But the number one mistake I see here from schools is that they have an opt-in, it’s for something, for a resource that’s not really that valuable to their visitors and it’s not really separating out people whether they’re interested in inquiring or they’re current parents and things like that.

Another mistake that I see is that the opt-in is too detailed. They’ll get to a landing page with 20 questions about their child’s history and medical history and academic history and interests and things like that. So I recommend a layered approach to this, have an opt-in that simply asks for the email on that first point of contact, that first time that you’re gonna gather your inquiry’s details and then you can always broaden that information later on down the lane as they engage with you in your nurturing process.

I always recommend having the opt-in on the homepage, the reason for this is, I always design school websites with my enrollment inquiries in mind. I always focus toward enrollment, instead of trying to serve all my audiences on the homepage. My homepage is always made for enrollment inquiries and then I’ll have a subdomain for parents. That kind of just separates it out cleans out the audiences and helps you to speak directly to the people that you are trying to connect with.

Google Analytics

Then the last thing that we need is analytics. Analytics is another foundation of your marketing strategy. No decision should be made without an evidence-based approach. I often see people re-design their whole website without having any base information of what they think would work and what evidence they have to make those decisions. Just to get started with analytics, you’d have to have Google Analytics installed and then you’d want to get monthly, weekly, even daily reports on how many visitors you are getting to your website, as well as things like what the bounce rate is, you should definitely not have a bounce rate above 40 to 50%.

You should also have information on the number of conversions on your website. So of all those people that visited your website, how many visited the enrollment-based pages and how many people put through an inquiry? And that is just the foundational analytics that you’d want to use to report to your principal and to use for your own information. You should see a cycle of continuous improvement as you improve your website.

Websites are Hard Work

Anyone that’s re-designed a website or designed a website from scratch knows it’s hard work but the most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t end with the design of your website. The website work never ends, you should always be improving and there is always a cycle of continuous improvement as you are building on your digital marketing strategy.

So, in that checklist, this 60 point checklist that I mentioned, I have some fundamental questions there that you can ask yourself. You can give your website a score out of 10. Hopefully, that gives you a bit of a checklist of what you can do to improve your school’s website.

Great, I hope that helps. We’ll see you next week where we’ll be looking at Facebook ads and we’ll be looking at your Facebook ad strategy as a whole. I hope to see you next week.

Digital Marketing Health Check | Download the Checklist

Digital Marketing Health Check | Download the Checklist

This is the first video from our 9-part ‘Digital Marketing Health Check’ series, each week I’ll release a new video covering a different element of your digital marketing strategy and looking at how healthy that element is and what you can do to improve it.

Make sure to download the ‘Digital Marketing Health Checklist’ from the ‘School’s Marketing Toolkit’ so you can go through and improve your school’s marketing.

Geofencing for Schools – The Power of Location-based Advertising

Geofencing for Schools – The Power of Location-based Advertising

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing allows you to draw a virtual fence around a location and send push notifications or show ads to people once they enter that area. This is done using location technologies to trigger an action when a mobile device enters or exits a virtual boundary.


How can Schools use Geofencing?

Retailers have been using Geofencing for many years to provide discount codes to people in their area, or provide car wash vouchers to people in a specific car park, but how can schools harness the power of Geofencing? Here are a few ideas:

  • Targeting the local primary school to advertise your Secondary School Open Event.
  • Branding your school to the local area.
  • Targeting parents at drop-off and pick-up times with good news stories about your college.
  • Targeting attendees to a local festival.


The Limitations of Geofencing

As exciting and innovative as Geofencing is, there are a few limitations you need to be aware of:

  • Technically speaking, if it’s going to be called Geofencing, then you need to have an app (whether your own or through a partner) and you need everyone entering your location to have that app installed and locations services enabled. This isn’t always practical for schools to achieve.
  • Geofencing is limited to targeting people based on their location (if they are in the area then they are targeted). This makes it difficult to accurately target people in high density areas such as hotels in city centres. There is a way to add interest targeting in my alternative suggestions below.
  • Geofencing only allows you one shot at reaching your targeted customer. Once they leave your location, you can’t re-target this audience. This isn’t great for schools marketing as we know that people’s decision making regarding school is longer-term. (See my suggestions below for another option.)


My Suggested Alternative

As mentioned above, Geofencing is done through mobile apps where the user has opted-in to location sharing. Instead, I like to use Geolocation Advertising which doesn’t require an app. It uses the power of location-based marketing in a way that has proven more effective. It allows me to set up campaigns that not only reach people in a specific geographic location at a specific time but also then re-target them further down the line. I can also layer my location-based targeting with interests and behaviours, which makes for a powerful targeting tool.

Have you ever lost your phone and used Google ‘find my device’? Or searched for a local service using Facebook? You’ll quickly notice that Google and Facebook know your exact location at any part of the day. These platforms allow you to narrow down on very specific locations for your targeting and allow you access to advertise on mobile apps, websites, Facebook, Instagram without the need for your own app with location permission to be installed on your audiences phone. Expertly set up, these platforms allow you to set up Geolocation campaigns that have a wider network to display ads on, greater reach and lower cost per click.

How will you use the power of Geolocation in your school’s marketing? I’d love to know!

Remember to join the discussion in the Marketing Mastery For Schools Facebook Group.

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