When discussing with clients how they compare esp. online channels, they usually mention how much they pay per conversion. It becomes interesting than looking at what conversion they mean. Let us talk about goal conversion vs. real conversion.

Towards: Visitor/User, Lead, Applicant, Paid application fee, Accepted, Enrolled, Student, or Alumnus (the latter is mainly desired by public universities)

The most common interpretation of conversion is towards the point an anonymous visitor becomes known. This is the point where usually the tracking with CRM takes over from the tracking via Google Analytics. What struck me here is, a university sharing that they pay €25 for a lead with AdWords. Later a client of mine also mentioned paying less than 200€ for an applicant. This time I had the chance to actually analyse it further with their Google Analytics.

Optimizing your budget

AdWords and Facebook offer the possibility to optimize your budget towards a goal conversion on a website. Unfortunately in our business, the goals we can set are hardly the goals we care about. These include Student, Alumni, or in my favourite quote “butt on the bench”. So while the client got good conversion rates towards their goal in Google Analytics, something was off. The countries the goals were triggered could not be found in the actual students. To understand this better I went one more step further. I compared the timestamps of the goals with their CRM data. That showed a more accurate conversion rate for their AdWords visitors. In the end, they got a single-digit conversion rate from an AdWords applicant to a student. It was ¼ of the average conversion rate.

The very good CPL via AdWords became very expensive when taking into account the next conversion steps towards a real student.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog post on goal conversion vs. real conversion. At faethe.marketing we have been helping schools to increase student enrollments since 2010. If you are looking to recruit the best matching students for your programmes with minimal cost and effort, feel free to reach out to us.