The number of International Schools here in Thailand, especially in Bangkok has grown tremendously over the past few years. As they all compete in the same space, digital marketing has become a vital part of their strategy as they vie for their share of the relatively small target audience.
Over the past 5 years, we have worked with a variety of International Schools and Colleges both in Bangkok and outside of Thailand. Today a good proportion of our client base is in the education and school sectors.
In this article, we share some techniques that we have found to work well, however, as with most campaigns results will differ slightly from school to school.
- Use a Dedicated Landing Page
We sometimes face resistance from schools on this subject, especially larger organisations where the approval process can be long. However a landing page is not designed to replace the current website, it’s merely a more suitable page for Ads to land on. We’ve run a number of A/B tests and experiments which show that landing pages can convert up to 5x higher than the main school website, which is typically designed to be used by existing parents and students.
Landing pages should be easy to navigate, fast loading, and contain information in a short and easy to read format. We always link back to the main website for those visitors who do want more information, however, for the most part, we are seeking to get conversions from the initial visit.
- Capitalise on Brand Searches and Relevant Competitors
Choosing a school is a significant and often long term decision, it’s natural to visit a number of options before making the choice to commit and start the enrollment process. Therefore targeting schools which are similar in Location, Curriculum and Costs makes sense.
This also makes it important to protect your own Brand terms in search results. Low-cost brand related searches will always provide the cheapest cost per conversion and ensure you take up the majority of available real estate on the results page.
- Geotargeting, Demographics and Scheduling
As mentioned in the previous point, location is one of the main deciding factors when choosing a school. Typically for niche location terms, for example; “international school min buri” we might expand our target region to greater Bangkok, but for more generic terms such as “international school in Bangkok” we would increase our bid the closer the searcher is to the location of the school.
Once you have enough conversion data you can start reviewing the data and making adjustments to the demographics and ad schedule.
You may choose to remove certain age ranges or levels of household income to narrow your target audience.
You can also look at which days of the week perform best in terms of conversions and cost per conversion. If you start to see a pattern emerging then implement a schedule to use your budget on the best performing days.
- Custom Audiences and Remarketing
Most schools have introduction videos available or virtual tours. By including these actions as conversions you can build audiences based on user behaviour.
You can then increase bids when targeting these users and as they have already shown some keen interest they will be more likely to convert through remarketing.
Remarketing is also a great way to get placements on premium publishers and as the decision making process if often fairly long, remarketing can help keep you prominent whilst buyers are still in their consideration stage.
- Seasonal Highs and Lows
Most schools work on a 6 – 12 month budget allocations, however, budgets should be planned around seasonal changes and admission times. For example, If you’re working on a 6-month budget from January to June, spend 75% of it in the first three months (Jan – March) where opportunity and interest is at its highest.
- Facebook Event Promotion
We’ve seen some great results through Facebook and Instagram advertising. By far and away the best performing campaigns are when we a promoting a particular event such as an open day. Combining this with a Lead Generation Ads is probably the most cost effective way of getting leads through Facebook. As with any Facebook campaign, the quality of your leads will depend on your ability to create great audiences.
- Test, test, test!
As with most Facebook Ad campaigns, the optimization largely relies on the campaign structure and being able to test Audiences, Ad creatives and Ad copy. Make sure to use lookalike audiences on Ad sets which perform well and continuously test images, for example, images of school buildings vs images of school children.
By customizing your UTM tags you’ll be able to breakdown the performance of each Ad set and Creative and start to build more audiences for future use.
- Don’t ignore local languages
Often the brief for International School campaigns put a lot of emphasis on the Expat target audience. Whilst we understand this request, don’t ignore the local market. In all of our accounts we have Thai campaigns which mirror the English campaign structure and often we find produces good quality conversions at under 50% of the cost.
However be aware that there are many ways to say ‘international school’ in Thai – make sure to target them all and monitor the Search terms reports daily.
- Be vigilant with your Negative keyword list
This is where our experience plays a big advantage to any new school campaign, as we understand the types of negatives to use before launching any new campaign. If you’re targeting broad keywords such as “International Schools Bangkok” be weary of what terms can creep in, we would suggest adding any schools, not seen as direct competition as a good starting point for your negative keyword list.
- Optimise your GMB
As location is a large factor in the decision process, having your Google My Business (GMB) page set up correctly is important. Most schools will already have this in place, if not it is relatively easy to set up, but can take a few weeks to fully verify.
Make sure this page is 100% complete with information and displays the correct location on Maps, link this to your Ad account and enable Location Extensions. If you have multiple extensions then typically Google will show the extension which is closest to the location of the Searcher.
This is also where you will receive public reviews so make sure your administrator is set up to receive notifications and any reviews are addressed correctly.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, every campaign will have its differences. When we’re working with more established schools we may move more budget into Remarketing campaigns, newer schools may focus more on their local competitors until they are more established. Split budgets across Google and Facebook, and be agile to the schools’ calendars and events.
If you’re looking for some help with your Digital Marketing, whether you represent a local School or any business where competition is high, get in touch with myself or one of my colleagues at Phoenix Media on 02 038 5400, or email email@example.com.