Information sharing as a general rule
As you may have noticed, I’ve started blogging again. I think it’s crucially important in a relatively collaborative field like higher ed. Nearly six years ago I reached out to Seth Odell (formerly of SNHU and UCLA, now at National University) when he was running Higher Ed Live and asked for advice and he answered on air that, in essence,
- Starting out and getting your foot in the door in higher ed marketing is difficult
- If you really want to excel, then (especially starting out) it needs to be more than a 9 am – 5 pm gig
- You need to get out of work and learn as much as you can and connect with others in the community
- Once you’re in, you’re in and people are open and supportive (via conference and other information sharing).
The implication of all that was, once you’re “in” and you have some knowledge or experience to share, that you should share it. Learning from Seth and others really inspired me to start working in the field so as soon as I could, I started to pay it forward. I presented about three years ago on some basic concepts related to Google Analytics (and at the time, I was shocked at the positive feedback from folks).
To the extent possible, I’ve given back in the form of answering questions I had along the way, like “What goes into a web/analytics report for higher ed?” and sharing the configuration of a basic admissions inquiry dashboard through the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.
The limits of information-sharing: giving paid search advice to the competition
As I’ve progressed in my career, though, the ratio of “things I can share” to “things I know” has decreased in some areas. One of those areas is in regards to digital advertising. While there is an abundance of online resources and training available, given the direct competition for programs, on-campus, but especially for online degree programs which can compete nationwide for the same students, those in the know aren’t as open about sharing their lessons learned.
There are tools available to learn about what your competitors are doing. These include built-in tools like the Auction Insights report (which only shows how you’re stacking up to your competitors on keywords you’re already bidding on), Keyword Planner (which you can use to scrape your competitors’ websites for keyword ideas) and paid tools like SEMrush and SpyFu to essentially spy on what your competitors are doing in regards to PPC.
Kick it up a notch: take AdWords 201 by LunaMetrics
For those who need a higher level of training, there is LunaMetrics (which also teaches advanced Google Analytics courses). They offer beginner courses but also a 201 course rather than recaps some basic success metrics and settings, is a deep dive into hands-on implementation.
The course is a masterclass on, really, a snapshot of how AdWords works at the time (it’s constantly changing). The course begins with how AdWords assists in moving people through the sales funnel before digging into more complicated and useful metrics like acquisition, conversion, and attribution. The course also covers setting up AdWords filters to automate some of the no-regrets decisions you can allow AdWords to make for you (pausing high cost, no conversion keywords, for a start). It digs into the tools for bigger campaigns like adding and managing user-defined dimensions.
The course also covers setting up AdWords filters to automate some of the no-regrets decisions you can allow AdWords to make for you (pausing high cost, no conversion keywords, for a start). It digs into the tools for bigger campaigns like adding and managing user-defined dimensions.
It’s an intensive dive into Metrics & Reports, Analysis Features (including AdWords/Analytics integrations), Advanced Analysis, Campaign Management, Tracking Campaign Segmentation, Automation, and (of course) remarketing.
My course was taught by Nick Eppinger, who specializes in paid search advertising and SEO. Even if you’re familiar with AdWords, I can’t recommend it AdWords 201 by LunaMetrics highly enough.
So, while I’m ramping up to outdo my previous performance (sorry, top-level only: “Surpassed budgeted enrollment goals for the executive coaching program by 58% by effectively managing AdWords“), don’t expect any helpful advice here other than, go ask Google.