Optimal Ad Copy in the Education Sector
Creating ad copy for your paid search campaigns is something all marketers must do. But one big mistake that many marketers make is treating all industries the same and applying similar strategies to very different businesses. The Education sector varies tremendously from other industries and therefore must be treated differently when approaching and executing ad copy. This guide will discuss best practices and insider knowledge on how to create the most optimal ad copy for your education client.
So why does it matter?
The more optimal your ad copy is, the more likely you are to have prospective students click your ad and receive the most relevant traffic possible. There are also legal ramifications and guidelines you must follow for the education sector that we will delve into later on.
Your ad copy must be highly relevant when it comes to the program, degree, location, and any other vital information, like if it is a campus or online-based institution. It must be clear that you are an education platform, and not just a service or downloadable course. While advertising in this space, you will come to find that many queries will be geared towards individuals looking for free downloads or programs – as opposed to individuals who want to enroll in an actual school. This type of traffic can eat up your budget and result in a large amount of wasteful spend for your client.
By cutting out wasteful spend with optimal ad copy, you will 1. Increase your efficiency and 2. Free up your budget to be spent on your top performing keywords.
Examples & Tips of Optimal Ad Copy
There are numerous callouts for the ad copy above and why this is considered “Optimal”:
- Highlights the school name
- Clear that they are now enrolling students
- Highlights that they provide Financial Aid & Military Benefits
- Informs user there are both Online & Campus degrees
- Highlights location in the heart of Hollywood
This ad copy has done a wonderful job of informing the user of everything they need to know – before even clicking the ad. We like to call this the screening process. When the user reaches our lead form, they are more qualified and likely to submit an application for more information.
Ad Copy Based on Program & Location
There are numerous callouts for the ad copy above & why this is considered “Optimal”:
- Highlights it is a Music College located in California
- Reaffirms it is in the Heart of Hollywood – another location callout
- Showcases their ACCSC Accreditation
- Sitelink Extensions showcase the available programs and areas of study
This ad copy has done a perfect job to make it as clear as possible that the institution is a music “College” and not just a program or online service. They also are letting the user know that they are located in California – and even more specifically, in the heart of Hollywood. This is especially important for individuals who are looking to attend school specifically in California.
The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) is a private, non-profit organization in the United States that provides accreditation to private post-secondary educational institutions. It is recognized by the United States Department of Education as an independent accrediting agency. As of 2010, there are 789 accredited schools with a combined enrollment of more than 250,000 students.
Now, what does this mean for you?
The ACCSC provides all accredited schools with a “Standards of Accreditation” guideline that all accredited schools must follow in order to maintain their accreditation. This guideline highlights topic such as:
- Purpose & Scope
- Educational Objectives
- Institutional Eligibility Requirements
- On-Site Evaluations
- Program Requirements
- Student Recruitment, Advertising, & Disclosures
- Admissions Policies & Practices
- Student Services
Legal Ramifications Surrounding Accreditation
There are legal ramifications for failing to follow the ACCSC guidelines to maintain accreditation. This is why it is so vital to have your in-house attorney or a third-party legal team review the full Standards of Accreditation handbook.
Not following all the ACCSC guidelines could result in:
- Stripping of ACCSC accreditation
- Potential lawsuits from students and alumni
- Fines from governing education bodies
The following steps will be required if the ACCSC determines your institution is under probation and at risk of losing accreditation:
- A school subject to a Probation Order will be required to demonstrate corrective action and compliance with accrediting standards.
- The Commission may require the school to submit Commission-directed reports and undergo an on-site evaluation in conjunction with Probation Order.
- Failure to demonstrate compliance with accrediting standards or other accrediting requirements by the end of the probationary period may result in the school being removed from the accredited list.
Ad Copy Legal Review
Section IV – Student Recruitment, Advertising, & Disclosures
This section’s purpose is requiring schools to describe themselves to prospective students fully and accurately and to follow practices that permit prospective students to make informed and considered enrollment decisions without undue pressure. Schools must observe ethical practices and procedures with regard to advertising, promotion, statements, and claims. They must also – at a minimum – adhere to the standards of advertising, promotion, statements, and claims to follow:
Here are some highlights that your in-house legal team must review before approving an ad copy to be uploaded into Google Ads or Bing:
- All advertising, promotional materials, statements, and claims are truthful and accurate and do not leave any false, misleading, misrepresenting, or exaggerated impressions with respect to the school, its location, its name, its personnel, its training, its services, or its accredited status.
- All advertising and promotional materials clearly indicate that education, and not employment, is being offered. No overt or implied claim or guarantee of individual employment is made at any time and any references to employment or salary prospects must be accurate and sourced.
- A school may only use the term “accredited” if it indicates the agency or organization in which it is accredited.
- Advertising of financial aid and scholarships must include an eligibility phrase.
- A school may not describe in its catalog, advertise, or promote new programs, substantive changes, or degree programs prior to receiving written Commission approval.
Schools must make accurate disclosures to students as follows:
- A school publishes a catalog that accurately portrays the school; its educational programs, resources and facilities; and policies and procedures and that includes, at a minimum, all items listed on the ACCSC Catalog Checklist.
- A school’s catalog is designed and written in a manner that conveys an accurate, comprehensive, and dignified impression of the school.
- A school provides each applicant with a current and complete catalog and an opportunity to review the catalog prior to signing the enrollment agreement so that each potential student may make an informed decision relative to the school’s educational programs, institutional policies, and procedures.
- A school utilizes an enrollment agreement that includes, at a minimum, all required items listed on the ACCSC Enrollment Agreement Checklist and that clearly states the obligations of both the student and school.
These guidelines must be kept in mind when creating ad copy in order to avoid false expectations or claims for students when they review the complete catalog. We care about back end sales and starts – and it all starts with being as transparent as possible!