2 Key Pillars for Improving Paid Facebook Performance For Education Marketers

8319d14fdf895c07e6a243c5c23179c5?s=50&d=mm&r=g Olivia Blazevic
Content Marketing Manager

Facebook plays a huge role in the marketing mix for education providers.

From traffic to acquisition strategy and overall lead generation, the success of this platform for advertisers speaks for itself. So, how do you stand out from the crowd when it comes to paid promotion? Facebook ads have the potential to reach the right students, and, if these campaigns are executed precisely, education providers can ultimately leverage paid Facebook to supplement student recruitment.

So, Why Facebook?

Facebook as an advertising platform holds a huge appeal to education marketers, as it presents a great opportunity to provide good-looking ads to capture highly tailored, granular target audiences with a high ROMI. It can play a key role in supplementing your current traffic acquisition strategy for student acquisition, due to the sheer size and reach.

Facebook audiences are highly customisable, which makes it easy for advertisers to target individuals according to their specific interests, demographics and location. One feature that is not to be neglected is the Facebook pixel – this bit of code placed on your website can take your marketing to the next level, helping you optimise your current audiences and retarget prospective students who have taken any kind of action on your site.

With 1.49 billion members worldwide, and 22 billion ad clicks per year, Facebook is providing businesses with the largest advertising opportunity since search.

– Margot da Cunha, WordStream

There are


monthly active Australian users on Facebook

When done the right way, Facebook ads can also deliver meaningful results, and form a valuable part of your student acquisition strategy.

We have defined two key pillars to consider if your education-focused campaigns are under delivering: audience targeting and creative.

1) Finding the Right Target Audience

Begin with a large target audience, then balance the quality of this audience by employing optimisation techniques.

By starting off with a large audience, this removes the strain that is put on the Facebook system to find the right audience for your objective and ad. It also allows the system more flexibility to find the right prospective student to align with your goal, particularly in the learning phase when a new ad set is launched.

If you find your audience is quite particular, look at expanding your audience by using a number of different methods, such as:

  • Interest targeting
  • Custom audiences
  • Lookalike audiences

or even a combination.

Using the Facebook pixel or Facebook’s custom demographic, interest and location targeting, extending the reach of your audience can allow you to chisel this audience down until you have just the right target market for your course.

Some ways to further optimise your campaign are:

  • Use Lookalike Audiences

    Lookalike audiences allow advertisers to expand the reach of their audience by finding people similar to the potential students you may already be targeting. For example, if you have a set of data of people who have placed a lead on a course on your site, you can create a lookalike audience of people with similar attributes or browsing habits and encourage them to also enrol. Using a sliding scale, you can get as similar or dissimilar as you like, with the latter enabling you to extend your reach even further. Be careful not to extend this too far, though. As it’s important to balance reach with quality traffic.

  • Add your current database as a custom audience

    Have your own set of data? Why not upload it to Facebook and use this audience to carry out a new action. For example, users who have placed a lead on a course, may be targeted with a follow-up survey or request for feedback on how the course went. Alternatively, use this extremely qualified audience to build a lookalike and extend your reach.

  • Expand existing targeting

    Clicking the checkbox to expand your target audience will enable the system to find users within your targeting parameters who are likely to enrol in your course. This in turn will result in a higher relevancy score, more impressions, and more enrolments, making your campaign more efficient and effective overall.

  • Open up your custom audience parameters to sit higher in the funnel

    Have you created a custom audience of users who have, for example, began filling out a lead from however have not submitted a lead? Is this particular audience size relatively small? Try aiming for an action higher in the funnel, for example, page viewers of the course you’re promoting.

2) Creative

Our attention spans on Facebook are shrinking! This is why creating thumb-stopping content that is digestible at a glance is crucial. Creative will have a significant impact on conversion rates, and poor creative will result in your campaign under delivering before it has even had a chance.

  • Ensure creative is to spec

    If you’re running a video creative, ensure assets are produced in square, 1:1 format. If there are voice overs included, ensure you use subtitles. Most videos are consumed with sound off.

  • Ensure creative aligns with your objectives

    If you’re running a campaign with the objective to drive clicks and sessions, use appropriate creative for this. For example, don’t use video creative for traffic generation activity. Further, if it’s engagement that you’re seeking, serve an ad format which is tailored to this, alongside a newsfeed description which encourages users to engage and interact with your content either through conversation or reaction.

  • Keep headlines punchy and newsfeed descriptions to a minimum

    MMA Global conducted research on consumer attention and cognition, which suggests that the human brain needs less than ½ a second to engage with mobile advertising and trigger a reason – POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE. Weak ads are processed faster and create negative responses in less than a second. It is super important to have creative which connects with your audience on an emotional level, and which they can take information in swiftly.

Creating advertising campaigns based on subjective perceptions of what you think your audience wants to see can more often than not be a recipe for disaster. It is difficult to determine what appeals best to an audience based solely on assumptions versus real data and testing. This is where Facebook’s in-built split testing feature can help advertisers to understand which of their ads and campaigns create a positive impact, based on design, copy and implementation.

Your Creative Should Be Comprised of
4 Ingredients:

  • Add new creative to ad sets

    Test your creatives to allow Facebook’s system to learn and serve the best performing ad. As a rule of thumb, ensure you have at least 2-3 creatives per ad set, giving Facebook the ability to A/B test naturally. Test variables such as images, headlines, landing pages, and newsfeed descriptions, until you find the best combination for your target audience.

  • Through testing of imagery in a number of ad sets, saw a 56% decrease in CPA for lead generation over a 30 day period. Further, noticed a 64% decrease in CPA using the same testing method. Important to note – ensure you keep all other variables the same when A/B testing, to ensure you’re able to compare apples with apples, and single out one variable as what you wish to test.

  • Bonus tip for education-focused creative

    When a prospective student is exploring a study opportunity, they want to envision themselves and their future working in their dream industry. This is where the creative you choose to promote your courses is crucial. As a rule of thumb, use imagery that demonstrates a person in the industry doing what they love. To pull a bit of psychology into the marketing mix – we love to look at faces. Humans have a specific part of the brain that responds only to faces, which is why advertisers should use the brain’s natural processes to capture someone’s attention and incorporate positive emotion into their marketing strategy.

The digital marketing landscape is never stagnant. However, when you have a refined, solid social media strategy in place, education providers can engage and convert students on a platform that is familiar to them.

Finding the perfect solution for Facebook’s Ads platform to maximise student enrolments within your budget can be difficult. It’s important to ensure your targeting is always meeting a healthy balance between broader audiences and narrow, niche markets. Further, ensure your creative is captivating and digestible within seconds of first viewing it.

If you find your campaigns are under delivering, try one of these recommended approaches and you’ll be sure to see your results improve.

8319d14fdf895c07e6a243c5c23179c5?s=100&d=mm&r=g Olivia Blazevic
Content Marketing Manager

Olivia is a dedicated and creative content marketing professional with expertise in digital content, strategy development and data analysis — all within the education marketing scope. She is also a devoted over-user of em dashes — seriously, someone needs to stop her.

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