Top of the class – Slashing Arts University Bournemouth’s cost per lead by 77% with PMax

Project Highlights

less cost per lead
Marketing Spend Reduced

The brief

Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) came to Common Ground with the aim of driving more potential students to their website, upping conversions via open day bookings and prospectus downloads, and reducing the cost per lead of their digital marketing activities.

As an institution renowned for nurturing up-and-coming creative talent, Common Ground’s approach would need to tap into the innovative minds of prospective AUB students from a wide variety of backgrounds.

With over 160 universities in the UK all aiming to assert themselves as the best place to study, achieving AUB’s goal would be a tricky but achievable challenge.

The Challenge

Having worked with AUB on search and display advertising since 2021, we were looking to continue our previous success together by finding a new way to expand their reach. This would further drive leads and conversions, while saving marketing spend by improving upon the current cost per lead.

The strong competition amongst universities from the UK and beyond would make being able to stand out from the crowd a large part of the campaign’s success.

University course titles can vary significantly between each institution, especially those centred around the arts. This means that only the most popular courses, offered across a large number of universities, receive high search volumes.

Additionally, more niche courses are often overlooked as students are simply unaware of their existence.

With these factors in mind, we knew we needed to identify a fresh area of focus to build upon our existing work of raising awareness of the selected courses, and target specific individuals to educate them on courses they may not have been considering at present.

If we could find the right solution, we were confident that AUB would reap the rewards during the campaign.

The Solution

So, how did we take on this interesting challenge?

Firstly, we introduced Google Performance Max (PMax) to complement AUB’s existing digital marketing activities. PMax uses a combination of user input and machine learning to optimise campaigns across Google’s advertising channels, reaching new audience segments that may not have otherwise been considered.

Utilising PMax’s advanced capabilities, we focused our efforts on highlighting courses that AUB had flagged as requiring a boost in applications with each one having its own group of high-quality associated assets to be shown to strategic audiences.
Audiences included the likes of secondary school leavers, visitors to the AUB website, and those using specific search terms such as ‘design undergraduate courses’, ‘art and design degrees uk’, and ‘interior design uni course’.

PMax’s expanded reach would allow us to cover a greater number of prospective students interested in joining courses within our target area, while also raising the profile of lesser-known courses that they may wish to hear more about.

The results

Over the course of the six-month campaign, PMax achieved more than 3,000 conversions in addition to over 1,500 conversions generated by the search campaign that Common Ground ran alongside it.

Initially, the cost per conversion within the PMax campaign was roughly three times higher than that of the search campaign . However, this figure was significantly improved in the second month of the PMax campaign, falling to 30% lower than search .

By month four, the PMax cost per conversion had dropped even further, and was now 60% lower than the search campaign.

Looking back across the whole six-month period, the PMax campaign’s cost per conversion was vastly superior. In direct comparison to search over the same timeframe, we saw a 77% reduction in cost per lead.

To achieve the same number of conversions (3,084) using search alone, AUB would have needed to invest a further 39k into their digital marketing spend. This demonstrates the huge amount of progress made from the first month of the PMax campaign and also shows the great value that adding PMax has brought to AUB’s digital strategy.

Along with the excellent results in reducing AUB’s cost per conversion, the PMax campaign also achieved over 38,000 clicks with a clickthrough rate (CTR) of 4.37%. When coupled with more than 34,500 clicks (with a 6.04% CTR) via the search campaign, it was clear that the project had been a resounding success.

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