White Paper Brief: Education Lead Generation Still Practical



Although higher education has come under fire due to ineffectiveness of a few particular schools, many students still benefit from online and non-traditional degrees from private schools. In addition, trade schools, vocational schools and language schools offer an attractive alternative to four-year universities. 


Lifehacker estimated that the total income generated over thirty years, for four-year degree holders and for trade school grads, differs only by $90,000 on average.1 Traditional university grads may earn more upon graduating, but the difference in the long run isn't so great. Additionally, talk of a federally-mandated minimum wage will serve to assure prospective students that their time and money spent towards a vocational degree will have a significant return. Conversely, the current state of the job market does not overwhelmingly persuade us to spend precious time earning expensive four-year degrees.


This white paper is also meant for educational websites, learning software and the like. Both have large markets that are particularly targetable using search engine advertising.


Potential Roadblocks Facing the Education Industry


There is still a stigma about vocational schools, which are sometimes thought of as less-than-desirable alternatives for students who aren't fit for universities. Recent laws shedding light on the poor graduation rates at certain schools have not helped to reverse the stigma. However, laws meant to improve those graduation rates and discourage schools from becoming "degree mills" are helping to improve the situation. Additionally, America is being forced to consider new models as student debt is becoming more burdensome than ever. A potential answer is vocational education. In countries such as Switzerland, it's thought of as simply another choice that leads to a different kind of career. This view of alternative education may soon be common in the US.


For many schools, especially language schools, immigration reform could have a huge impact on the education market. Considering differences of opinion on the subject among the current presidential candidates, there could be a number of outcomes related to student visas in early 2017. Some may reduce demand for typically foreigner-friendly education, such as ESL.


Target Demographics


A significant portion of young adults may find a way out of unemployment or underemployment by receiving education from a trade or vocational school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in this group ranges from 10% to 18%, the higher end representing adults around the age of 18. Still more young adults have given up looking for jobs. When you add the two groups together, it accounts for 33% of adults under 25.2  Surely, some of these citizens will look to education as a way out of unemployment.


Online student demographics reveal some interesting figures.3


  • 70% are female. 

  • 39% are below age 30 and 39% are between 30 and 49.

  • 62% are caucasian, 19% are African American.

  • 60% are employed full time.

  • 31% fund their education with student loans and other financial aid. 28% spend personal funds on their education.

  • Nearly 70% enrolled in online education for the convenience or for the work/family balance.


As for language students, the market for private language schools is loaded with visa-seeking young adults. These are students who do not have the primary objective of improving their English. They instead wish to travel or live abroad and sometimes hope to find employment abroad. They do this legally by obtaining a student visa and attending a language school, which is usually one of the least expensive options. Of course, many students also need or want to improve their English language skills while they explore or attempt to immigrate. Students who are more motivated to improve their language skills may be more likely to spend money on courses that are more expensive. 


Lead Generation for Private Education of All Kinds


As the state of education is changing in the United States, so is the state of education recruitment. Many students are leaving schools deemed "degree mills" and searching for another option. Immigration by student visa is still strong, as well. In fact, non-immigrant visa issuance increased by around 50% from 2011 to 2016.4 The organizations that serve these students have an opportunity to reach out to them while they are searching. 


The primary advantage of lead generation by targeted PPC advertising is the level of optimization that is attainable. Keywords, which are searched using Google and other websites, are monitored closely. The best-performing keywords are used and the rest are discarded. Additionally, landing pages can be optimized in a number of ways in order to improve conversion rate. The result is one of the lowest costs per lead available in marketing, with little needed in advance.


PPC Keyword Analysis


The top keywords in the education industry reveal a range of costs and competition. The average price per lead may be around 80 dollars. Surely, the revenue generated by an average qualified lead will be much higher in almost all scenarios.


The average CPC (cost per click) for the industry is $7. It is based on a conversion rate of 8%, which is the industry average. Cost per acquisition (CPA) ranges from to $10 to $238 at 8% CVR but decreases significantly as conversion rate increases. The average CPA comes out to $78 at 8% CVR. There is an opportunity to reduce the costs of advertising by increasing the conversion rate, which we discuss below.




Based on competitor data and the average conversion rate in the industry, we've found that the average keyword in the top 15 will produce approximately 6,600 clicks and 529 conversions per month, at least. That is a conversion rate of 8%. 



Health Insurance Lead Buyers


Although we don't offer lead generation for public schools, it is a trackable and data-backed method of boosting enrollment for all kinds of private education institutions and enterprises. Trade schools, technical schools, language schools, certification course providers, even niche learning websites can benefit. Lead buyers may provide everything from English classes to stock trading lessons to welding certificates. 


Optimizing Conversion Rate


Through optimization of keywords, ads and landing pages, cost savings can be achieved. The goal is to increase conversion rate, which will offset the cost of clicks produced by potential leads. The estimated figures in the graphs above do not necessarily reflect the cost per acquisition isotree or any particular PPC management company can reach. In fact, it may reflect a group of keywords that are managed quite poorly. at isotree, we use a proprietary application called Optimal Ad, which helps reduce costs while maintaining click volume. This gives us a competitive advantage over the competition.


Current Industry Competition


Overall, there are a relatively small number of advertisers (46 on average) in the education sector. Most are bidding aggressively. The average ranking difficulty is 70 out of 100, which means you can't bid too low in this industry. However, that does not suggest the potential return on investment is weak. 


The number of businesses bidding on each keyword ranges from 4 to 64. The following are some examples of the top advertisers.


  1. Lincoln Tech

  2. WeldingSchool.com

  3. TradingAcademy.com

  4. CentralCareer.edu

  5. EducationConnection.com

  6. FindSkilledJobs.com

  7. Everest Institute

  8. Rosetta Stone

  9. SNHU




There are a wide range of potential lead buyers in the education industry. Categories include "online education," "language education" and "trade schools." Although there has been negativity surrounding some areas of the industry in recent times, we expect any ill will to be reversed as new regulations take effect and as education reform occurs. The result could be a boom.


One way managers can take advantage of the changes happening is to actively seek new students by targeting them with PPC lead generation techniques. Essentially, the lead buyer's risk is very low. Many PPC management companies can estimate the cost per lead and arrange a deal with the clients. The client, or lead buyer, simply decides if the investment is worth the cost. All the while, they can focus on what they do best, which is providing education. The PPC management team does all of the work.


Interested in lead generation through precisely targeted PPC management? Contact us today to discuss how we can help you succeed!




  1. Hamm, Trent. "Trade School Might Be a Better Choice Than College. Here's Why." Dec. 16, 2013. LifeHacker (link).

  2. Cohen, Patricia. "It's a Tough Job Market for the Young Without College Degrees." May 10, 2016. NY Times (link).

  3. "41 Surprising Fact About Online Students." Accessed June 1, 2016. CollegeAtlas.org (link)

  4. "Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas Issues at Foreign Service Posts (2011-2015)" US Dept. of State (link)

Maxim Kurapatkin