• Independent Schools
Remarketing Ads for Schools 101
Red Abbott

I'm sure by now you have heard about Pay-Per-Click ads (AKA “PPC”) — maybe you've run some of them yourself. If you’re like most school marketers, you’ve probably focused on social ads or maybe search ads (like you see in a Google search result). But, there is another category of ads known as remarketing ads — also called “retargeting” in some places — which have a lot of potential for schools if used thoughtfully.

What are remarketing ads?

To put it simply, remarketing is a form of online targeted advertising where online ads are targeted to consumers based on their previous actions online. These ads can also be called “display” or “banner” ads. In all cases, we’re talking about the rectangular image-based ads that appear on content providers like news, blogs, and entertainment sites, like this:

Example of Banner Ads

Remarketing is a way to show your ads only to a very specific audience — an audience defined by their previous behavior on your site. Whether you know it or not, you have probably been in the audience of a "remarketer" at some point. Have you ever browsed an e-commerce site for a product only to notice that ads for that exact product started popping up on other random websites?

Boom. That’s remarketing.


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How can remarketing ads help schools?

So how does that translate to your marketing challenge? Consider the prospective parents who visited your admissions section but never inquired. Remarketing allows you to remain on their radar with a friendly invitation to come back and learn more.

Side Bar Ads

1. They Provide Opportunity to Stay Top of Mind 

Remarketing ads provide great opportunities to schools — in particular for admissions and summer programs — because both typically involve several website visits before an action is taken. Let’s say, for example, the Smith family visits your admissions section in their search for the perfect high school for their daughter. Even if they don't fill out a form, you have the opportunity to "nurture" them as they browse the Internet, constantly reminding them about your school. 

In other words, the time between the first visit to your site and the act of inquiring about admission or registering for a camp is the time when remarketing ads can help reduce the funnel’s leakage.

2. They Offer Opportunity to Create Engaging, Specific Messaging

It’s also true that your messaging in these ads can be more specific. Imagine you’ve accumulated an audience of people who visited both your website’s admissions section and your athletics content. A banner ad highlighting your new field house or turf field could give you a much greater chance of resonating with that person than an ad built for a more general audience. Consider also that people who have visited the lacrosse camp page would probably respond well to one type of ad while the people who have visited the robotics camp page would respond well to an altogether different image.

3. They Offer Solid ROI

When you're working with limited advertising dollars, you want to spend money on what works. Retargeting ads are often substantially more affordable to run than traditional PPC ads. While the average cost of a PPC ad is $2-$3 per click, the Cost Per Click (CPC) on a remarketing ad can be as low as $.25-.60! And remember, just like a PPC campaign, you are only paying if someone clicks. So, you get a lot of exposure without actually paying a dime in some cases.

Key Takeaway

The first time I noticed remarketing ads, I thought they were kind of creepy. How does this random website know I was looking at those exact shoes over on some other site? You might begin to think that the company may be stalking you (or reading your mind), and this may leave you feeling uneasy about what you search for.

But wait! What most people get wrong is the acceptable frequency with which they tap you on the shoulder and say, "Ahem, are you sure you don't want these trendy shoes?" But imagine if that precious audience above (let's call them the "Admissions Leakage" audience) saw a beautiful banner ad for your school once (maybe twice!) a week until they did come back and complete that inquiry form or sign up for an Open House. Think of how tailored the ad content can be when you know how your Admissions Leakage audience is defined.

In fact, we think it's the only way schools should be running banner ads at all.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Red Abbott

Red leads our team of experts who have your back when it comes to organic online searches and ads. With a long history in independent schools — as an alum, former teacher, dorm parent, coach, and now a current parent — his passion for helping you is rooted deep in his own experiences. Alongside his degree in engineering and a master's in school leadership, it's easy to see why clients say Red "gets them" when they discuss marketing strategy!

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Marketing/Communications
  • SEO/PPC
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