How to Decrease Your School’s Ad Spend

Digital Marketing Ad Spend for School Marketing - Truth Tree

by Trevor Waddington, Principal, Truth Tree


A prospect spotted your search ad and entered the wonderful world of your school’s landing page. 

How much did it cost?

The answer is reported as your cost-per-click or CPC, with the average CPC standing at $3.94, according to Wordstream.

cost per click for private school marketing - Truth Tree marketing agency for schools

That’s a lot, and it can add up quickly if you’re not careful.

So, let’s see if we can get that CPC down and get your ad in front of more best-fit families.

What factors affect CPC?

There are dozens of factors, and the weight of factors affecting CPC can wax and wane.

It’s our experience the following are the most impactful for school marketers.

  • Competition – The number of schools in a target area bidding on the same search term (maybe private school near me or boarding school in the USA), and their maximum bid.
  • The quality and relevance between your ads and landing page – If your ad is for preschool, but your landing page says early childhood center > 🙅🏽‍♀️
  • Bid strategy – If you want the top-of-page 1 placement vs. an ad somewhere on the first few pages, it’s going to cost you.

Even with an endless budget, your goal should be to have a top-ranked ad at the lowest possible CPC.

Here’s how.

Tips to lower your CPC

Long-tail keywords

Private school, best school, and school near me are popular search terms. Technically speaking, they are long-tail keywords because, obviously, they are more than one word.

The more popular a phrase is, the more likely other schools running Google ads will be bidding on it. This drives up the CPC.

To keep CPC within your budget, add onto these keywords as it relates to your programs and curriculum.

  • language immersion high school near me
  • best charter school for STEM
  • Are there any IB private schools in Tallahassee?

Long-tail keywords allow for more word matches. The more that match, the more likely Google will show your ad first. 

We recommend at least 15 unique long-tail keywords that combine popular phrases and words explicitly related to your school—the longer the keyword/phrase, the less competition and the lower your CPC.

Landing page optimization

In microseconds, Google determines if it wants to show your ad first, second,…or not at all. Positioning and cost are based on a quality score. The top factors determining your quality score are ad > landing page relevance and the experience on the landing page.

For example, if your school’s Google ad says Episcopal High School for Boys, and those words are nowhere to be found on your landing page, Google ☹️. Making matters worse, your landing page is one run-on sentence that overwhelms the user who bounces from the landing page. That also makes Google 😖.

Google will still show your ad somewhere but jack up your CPC.

We recommend you have a theme and goal for your landing page. A theme could be your lower school or an admission event. The goal should be for the user to take action, like signing up for a personal tour.

Use Microsoft Advertising (Bing Ads)

Bing? Really!?

Hear me out.

According to Semitrical, Microsoft Ads are considerably cheaper primarily because there’s less competition. Microsoft’s average CPC stands at $1.54, while Google’s average CPC is over 70% higher at $2.69. 

But with only a 3% market share in the US, that’s only slightly higher outside the US; why bother?

Here’s why

Microsoft’s search platform has gained demographic-specific ground over the years among an older demographic with higher incomes that tend to be more conservative in the US.

Additionally, there is one country where Bing’s market share dominates Google: China.

So who should use Microsoft ads for their school marketing?

Our recommendation is yes if you’re a conservative school, a boarding school that attracts students from China. And if you’re both, 💯.


Understanding and managing the key factors that impact your school’s digital marketing cost-per-click will provide flexibility and more room to experiment with creative ad copy. Being able to curate ads that stand out will inevitably impact your enrollment marketing strategy to attract and enroll more best-fit families.

Identify your school’s next digital marketing move.