Marketing Your Private School with Google Display Ads

display ads for school marketing - Truth Tree

Your visual brand is a powerful representation of your ethos, mission, and services. Digital display ads range in size, presentable content, and placement. So how can you leverage all that you are effectively in a 300×50 pixel space?

The answer is, it’s tough, and we see ads all the time that pack WAY too much stuff into an ad space you’d need a Hubble Telescope to read.

At Truth Tree, our display ad strategy is pretty simple and usually follows this pattern:

  1. Say hello
  2. Build awareness
  3. Say hello again (retargeting)
  4. Demonstrate value
  5. Say hello again, again (more retargeting)
  6. Optimize the user’s valuation

Based on that strategy, here’s why we like them, how they work, and how we use them for our school and camp partners.

Cost – When someone clicks on your search ad, there’s intent behind it. They were likely looking for a “private school near me” or “best overnight camp in Kansas.” Display ads are a strategic disruption, so the value of the click is lower. That is why display ads are 4-5 times less expensive per click than search ads. So if you are on a budget and have a great deal or hook, display ads can provide tremendous ROI. (Just don’t go overboard like Camp Truth Tree)

Reach – For most of 2020, the number of people and the time they’ve spent online has skyrocketed for obvious reasons. So when you know 90% of internet users worldwide will see a display ad, you have the formula to engage hard to reach parents. These current non-customers may not have considered your school or camp because they did not know you existed or did not know a school or camp like yours was even a thing.

For example, one of our partners, Applewild School, has a trailblazing program for 8th and 9th grade students called Prospect Studio. It is designed for students who need more preparation for high school. The minuscule audience that could take advantage of this opportunity, combined with the large-scale unawareness of such a program, made search-based ads ineffective. But, being able to hone in on a parent’s online footprint (e.g., searching: “tutor for my 8th grade son”) and SHOW them the program gave Applewild a better chance of getting students for the program.

Brand Awareness/Ad Formats – With display ads, you’re able to demonstrate creativity to its utmost and showcase the facilities, the teachers, and students’ happy faces. They say, “you never have a second chance to make the first impression.” At Truth Tree, we painstakingly choose the right visual for the right audience. Encompassing these ideas and knowing that the ads have to be fitted not only to each parent’s interests but also to their screens, we’ve been able to position responsive display ads that are getting more clicks per impressions compared to industry standard.

Truth Tree: 0.89 – 2.01%

Education Sector: 0.53%

Placements – Setting up display campaigns, you have the freedom to choose precisely on which platforms/websites you’ll run your ads. Tailoring each of our campaigns’ placements closely, we can focus on the websites that are suited for or are in the area of interest of prospective parents of our school clients.

Hold the phone because not all websites are equal. For private schools, you can push ads to show on Niche and Private School Review. However, placement is key.

On Private School Review, ad placements are above or almost above the fold as circled in blue. On Niche, the first Google Ad placement is 2-3 scrolls down (depending on how aggressively you scroll 🙂 and only shows banner ads, which are not our favorites (we’ll save the reason for another blog).

Targeting – Advertising to parents with kids who can reasonably afford you is crucial. Just as important is, you will want to target parents who are researching and actively considering an independent education or a summer experience for their children. If you can create a disruptive ad that appears 3, 4, 10 times to a user in an online session where other school and camp ads are not, 😊. When it comes to creating that target audience, sit down with your team (or our team at Truth Tree), think of your “best parents,” and go through the audience filter and reconstruct him/her/them.

Retargeting – AdMarCom Commandment #1: Thou shalt covet thy current students before seeking new ones. Plus, it’s cheaper. Likewise, it’s easier and less expensive to target people who have already expressed some level of interest in what you have to offer. By properly tagging and pixeling your site, you can show ads to those who have visited your site in fantastical ways. And our favorite part, you can show them ads based on their journey pattern through your site.

For example, let’s say they come to your site, follow a prospective parent’s typical journey, hit the tuition page, and within seconds they bounce.

No worries, because when then hop over to Urban Belle, they may see this.

All of this seems like a lot of work, time and struggle, we know. Being in your shoes, we’d very likely feel the same way. But with the info above, you are ready to make digital display ads an integral part of your digital marketing strategy.

What digital marketing strategy is right for your school?

Get a FREE assessment and the option of a strategy meeting with a member of our team.