Thought Leadership

The Case for Including Cost in Ads

How Price Helps Pre-Qualify Leads

A neon sign that reads "This is the sign you've been looking for."

It’s no secret that “cost” can sometimes feel like a four letter word in the higher ed space. Something we bury three pages deep on a program page under a pile of features and benefits to ensure the payoff justifies the price. I’m here to tell you that including cost in your ads doesn’t have to be something we shy away from. In fact (depending on your program) it might actually help you “pre-qualify” leads. I’ll take you through a few considerations which will help you determine if including cost in your ads is the right move for you.

What’s Your Product?

The inspiration for this article came from recent conversations I’ve had with two separate higher education clients. One represents a Pre-College program and the other represents a portfolio of non-degree courses. While their programs and audiences could not be more different (16-year olds vs. working professionals), both are looking to combat a similar challenge — and both are solid contenders for including cost in ads.

That’s because both clients fall into a category that I call short-form programs. This is a catch-all for education offerings that are under a year, and don’t culminate in a degree. Short form programs can be anything from a few weeks, to a summer, to eight or nine months. They could be on campus or online, and run the gamut in terms of price.

What’s Your Objective?

If your primary objective is driving traffic to your site, then listing the price in the ad may not be the right solution for you. That’s because when you lead with the cost in either your assets or ad copy, you’ll likely see a dip in site visitors. After all, some people will naturally self-select out.

However, if your objective is conversion-driven, read on, weary marketer! Prospects who see the ad including the cost, and click through to your site anyway are going to be slightly more “pre-qualified.” Whatever the cost of your program, the person weighed their options and proceeded to your site in spite (or maybe because) of it.

Even if your program offerings don’t neatly fall into the short-form program category, including cost in your ads could still work depending on your objective. Here are just three of them:

  • How are you priced compared to your competitors? Are you the “value” option, top-tier?
  • Do you offer financial aid or other scholarships? How’s the discount rate?
  • Are you looking to generate leads? Application submits?

The Difference Between CTR and CVR

You’re probably familiar with CTR (click-through rate). This is all about driving as many visitors as possible with a high click-through-rate to your site with the goal of placing that retargeting pixel. You’ll chase them around the internet with your ads and try to convert them later. On some channels, this strategy can cost you a lot of money.

CVR, or conversion rate, has the eye on the ultimate prize – getting that conversion. NobleDesktop has a good practical example as it relates to paid search. There’s two different ads in their example – the “no price” ad, despite having a higher CTR and lower CVR has an acquisition cost of $750 while the ad with the price has a CTA of $300.

Still On The Fence?

Test it out and see for yourself! The only way you’re going to know how it’ll work for your programs is to run this as a test. Consider incorporating cost into your paid search copy, or add pricing information as one of your site extension links. Run an A/B test on display network, or on Meta/LinkedIn and see which asset generates more conversions.

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