Making the Most of Your PPC Clearing Campaign


If you’ve worked in Higher Education for a while, then the mention of clearing may send a shudder of dread down your spine. Easily one of the busiest times of the year for Higher Education. It can make or break student recruitment targets. Careful planning and preparation are key for all campaigns, but this is especially true for the clearing period when time is precious, advertising cost go up and emotions are high.

A tried and tested classic of digital marketing is your PPC search campaign. Google Ads are excellent at reaching an extremely relevant audience at exactly the right time, maximising your return for the intense clearing period. We’ve put together some tips for how to make sure your PPC is as successful as it can be.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

RLSA is a remarketing tactic that allows you to focus your attention on students who have previously engaged with your university. You can tailor your bids to favour people who have visited your site before, or attended an open day for example. During Clearing, the search environment is highly competitive. You want to know that you are getting the best results for your budget. Retargeting people who are already ‘warm’ from previous interactions with you, means they are more likely to be further down the funnel and therefore more likely to convert in the long run.

Call Only Campaigns

Whilst calling is becoming less common in the student generation, a call only campaign can still be hugely powerful at driving up conversions for your university. By running a call only campaign, you can direct users straight to a hotline. This can work brilliantly in conjunction with the remarketing lists from above. You can focus your call only campaign on people who have previously visited your site, and therefore more likely to apply. A student who has never browsed your courses before is highly unlikely to want to hop on a call with your institution, so a call only campaign would be wasted on them. You can also schedule your ads in the platform to only run when the hotline is open, ensuring the budget isn’t wasted when no one is at the other end of the line.

Ad Extensions

An ad extension is used to increase the size of the ad and provide additional information to the user. This could include site links, reviews, callouts and call extensions. All campaigns should run with an ad extension but this is especially crucial in clearing. Many institutions will be promoting their places and you want your ads to be the ones grabbing students attention, not the competitions. An ad extension will make the ad bigger, making it more prominent to users and taking up valuable space that competitors might use instead. The extra space will also contain extra information for the prospective student, meaning you are more likely to include something that will convince them your university is the right place for them. It’s a win-win.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are highly effective, especially for high traffic search terms. Generic keywords that appear in everyone’s search campaigns – such as ‘clearing’ or ‘results day’ – will be highly competitive and expensive. Long-tail keywords use a larger number of words in the search string. This makes them more niche, and therefore less competitive and more cost effective for your campaign. A quick brainstorming session of what your potential students will be searching within this key period will give you a good place to start.

Responsive Search

Google offers responsive search ads, which uses machine learning to build search ads for you. Rather than the conventional format of linking a headline and a description together to form one static ad, responsive ads will mix and match from a range of headlines and descriptions to create a variety of possibilities. Google can then select the most relevant ad combination for each individual search. By making the ad more relevant to the search query it increases the chances the user will want to click on the ad showing as it will match their search closely.

PPC campaigns are the backbone of a good digital marketing campaign for clearing. With these tips, you can hopefully get the most bang for your buck and make it your best clearing yet. But just remember a clear outline, events/goals, setup and campaign structure/build are the most important factors still when creating your clearing advertising campaigns. For more help with clearing, educational digital marketing and campaign optimising contact us for more details.