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Murdoch University
Driving applications in higher education

The problem How to engage students in a crowded and competitive market.
The solution Targeted paid search campaigns with a best practice bidding approach.
The outcome A 197% increase in clicks to the application portal compared to the previous period.

A leading WA higher education provider

Since its inception as the first Australian university to introduce a flexible admissions system and make education more accessible, Murdoch University has remained grounded in its principles and guided by its strategic plan. Today, it stands as a global centre for learning, teaching, research, and industry, while remaining committed to its purpose of inclusive education.

With over 25,000 students and 2,400 staff from 90 different countries, Murdoch University takes pride in the impact that its graduates, research, and innovations have made, both in Western Australia and around the world.

A competitive education environment

The market for potential domestic students is both crowded and highly competitive, with multiple universities vying for a limited pool. To engage more prospective students in the research process and drive more student applications, Murdoch University engaged equ.

With numerous interstate, intrastate, international, and online competitors, grabbing the attention of prospective students was a challenge that required an optimised approach.

The goal was to maximise the reach of Murdoch’s search campaigns with their available budget

A data-driven approach to search engine marketing. With a crowded market and a limited budget, it was crucial to target the right keywords and audiences at the right price. Paid search campaigns were deployed to support recruitment drives and generate awareness.

Driving paid search is all about the details. Through analysing user behaviour data in analytics and Google Ads, we were able to identify where people search from, the times of day and days of the week they search more frequently, and the devices that achieve the best conversion rate.

A test and learn approach to automation

Building upon this behavioral data, equ developed a test and learn roadmap to determine new bidding strategies for priority course campaigns. This involved testing traditional manual bidding against different automated bidding strategies that utilise advanced machine learning over 60-day learning periods.

The preferred automated bidding experiments outperformed manual bidding across all key metrics.

Our bidding approach ensured targeted search ads appeared at the right time and in the right location for audiences most likely to convert

Justin Beavis Performance Marketing Manager

Outperforming student application targets year on year

July to September is a key time for paid search as students start to plan and research their study options for the following year. This period also incorporates the Year 12 Early Offer program application window which opened in April and ran through to the end of the year.

During this period an improvement in the performance of Branded and Generic campaigns saw a 217% increase in clicks to the application portal and a 61% reduction in cost per action. Ad engagement also improved year on year, seeing strong improvements in cost per click, click through rate and conversion rate metrics.

Across all campaigns, there was a 197% increase in clicks to the application portal and a 20% education in cost per action in the July - September 2022 quarter compared to the same period in 2021, with engagement also improving in a more competitive environment.

The equ team have been agile and quick to adapt to changes and additional requirements. In the past year we have seen some great results from the test and learn experiments the team have run, which has increased clicks to our application portal by 116%.

Georgia Williss, Senior Manager Performance Marketing Murdoch University
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