5 AdWords Marketing Tips for Your Online Course

Marketing on AdWords can help draw in new students and establish your course.

AdWords is one of the most widely used online advertising tools—and for good reason. Like running a full-page ad in the yellow pages back in the day, they allow businesses to target customers searching for specific terms. And because advertisers only have to pay for the people who click on their ads, it’s a great way to control your costs for effectiveness.

That said, setting up an effective AdWords ad can be complicated for beginners, and if you don’t set up the ad strategically, you could be flushing a lot of your ad budget down the drain. If you’re new to AdWords marketing, or if you’re struggling to make it work for you, try these tips to see better results.

1. Choose your keywords wisely.

It goes without saying that your AdWords keywords need to target the right audience to be effective, because these are what will determine when your ad appears. But you should go beyond the obvious keywords such as “online business management course” or “online electrician certification.”

These may be effective, but they may also be more competitive, meaning you’ll have to pay more to gain them. Instead, look a little harder for long-tail key phrases that will have lower search volume, but also higher conversions, all at a lower bid price.

2. Determine your keyword match.

Keyword matches come in three levels of specificity: broad match, phrase match, and exact match.

By default, the keywords you use will be a broad match. This means that if your keyword is “online courses,” your ad will also appear in searches for “online classes” or “online certification. Broad matches tend to have higher clicks and will get your ad more exposure, but usually at the expense of conversions.

You can set you your keywords as a phrase match by using quotations around them. When you do this, your search will appear whenever your keywords appear as part of a phrase. So, if you put “online course” in quotation marks, you’ll appear in searches for “free online course” or “online course business management.”

Finally, you can do an exact match by putting your keyword in brackets (e.g. [online course]). In this case, your ad will only appear when someone searches for “online course,” and won’t appear under any other searches. This is good only if they keyword you’re using is targeted toward people who are ready to buy. There’s not much point in restricting your audience if your chance of converting them is just as low as if you were using a broad match.

3. Control for negative keywords.

To increase your chance of conversions, you can also use negative keywords. These are a way of controlling which searches your ad won’t appear in. If your keyword is often associated with another set of terms that aren’t likely to convert visitors to your business, negative keywords can help you avoid wasting money on poor-value clicks.

For instance, while free online courses can be a great way to close a sale and build your email marketing list, they may not be what you want to spend your ad money on. By including “free” in your negative keyword list, it means your ad will appear in searches for “online electrician certification,” but not in searches for “free online electrician certification.”

4. Set cascading bids.

One of the effects of learning more about keyword match settings and negative keywords is that they allow you to fine-tune when and where your ad appears. And once you do this, you can also set up multiple ads, then bid on those keywords based on your expected conversion rate.

If you set up an ad with a broad match, use a lower bid than you would for an ad with an exact match. Put most of your optimization and bid power behind high-converting keywords, and use lower bids for the broad keywords that will bring in more visitors but fewer sales.

5. Target your branded keywords.

Many businesses don’t target their own branded keywords. After all, why would you? If someone is searching for your business, they already know you, right?

This is true, but it’s only half the picture. You should advertise for your own brand for several reasons:

  • Brand reinforcement. People who search for you will see your name in advertisements on their search. That’s giving them more links to click for your website, and it shows that you’re serious about your business.
  • If you don’t, your competitors will. Marketing can be cutthroat. If you’re not bidding on your branded keywords, your competitors might do so instead, diverting your traffic to their site.
  • They’re low cost and high conversion. Your branded keywords aren’t likely to cost a lot, but people searching for them are ready to buy. It won’t cost you much for the clicks, but you’ll make it back in sales.

Yes, it may be counterintuitive, but it also makes good sense.

AdWords is a great start, but it isn’t the end of your online marketing.

AdWords works better for some businesses than for others, and its effectiveness for your course may vary over time. Traditionally, AdWords works best for ecommerce businesses who have a product to sell, or for service industries that can target local searches. It’s also a valuable tool for helping new businesses get their name on the map and land their first customers.

Many online education businesses fall into these categories, meaning AdWords is usually an excellent, cost effective way to land new learners, especially when they’re first starting up. But some online businesses find that, as they grow and their prices rise, the conversion rate for AdWords falters.

Because of this, it’s important not to set AdWords on autopilot, and also to develop multiple online marketing strategies. If AdWords helps draw visitors to your website, use that traffic to build your email mailing list as well as to land sales. You’ll be increasing your brand reputation, and building new sales avenues for the future.

Author

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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