BLOG ARTICLE
September 29, 2018

Case Study: How the Australian Institute of Music increased their sales leads while reducing their costs

AIM is Australia’s leading music college with campuses in Sydney and Melbourne. They offer qualifications in music composition, production, acting and audio engineering.

The college wanted to increase the leads generated from their Paid search campaigns. With a healthy Adwords budget the college had reached the maximum search impression share for their highly relevant keywords. To increase their leads it required a focus on getting more results from the traffic they were already getting.

There was also a belief it took on average 3 months from the time a student initially checked AIM out on the web to the time it took for them to actually make up their mind and apply.

Hypothesis

 We suspected that we could get more potential students to enquire and in a shorter time frame than was the current norm. To test this hypothesis we narrowed our testing down to one department and one targeted AdWords campaigns. We focused in on potential students that were interested in studying audio engineering.

Below is a screenshot of the original landing page  vs the New Landing page.

The results

The new landing page increased the conversion rate by a staggering 360%. A substantial increase to say the least.

AIM has ambitious growth targets so I was sceptical and wanted to trial on specific campaigns first. But I was blown away by the increase in conversion rates – for some Campaigns we are getting 3 times the student leads. I didn’t think it was possible.

Richard and his team know what they are doing, and we're now rolling out additional landing pages, as well as conversion optimisation on the main site.

ADAM ST JOHN

Marketing Manager

Australian Institute of Music

Analysis of why the campaign was so successful

The problem

AIM offers several Audio engineering courses: Diplomas, Degrees, Postgraduate and short courses.  It was difficult to  identify the users intent with a lot of the search terms that users used to find the page eg. “study audio engineering” and “audio engineering courses”.

As such the original landing page was an all encompassing gateway page where users could navigate to the course level that they were interested in.

I’m just Browsing thanks.

People use websites because they don’t want to talk to people. The same reason why many of us queue at the self service checkouts in the supermarket even when there is no queue at a staffed checkout.

People love buying clothes at Westfield. But they hate talking to the salesperson. I don’t know about you but I try to avoid interaction with the salesperson and often walk in the opposite direction from them in the store so that I can be left alone. No meaningless small talk, thank you!

Bearing this in mind visitors on your site want to gain information but often are reluctant to complete a form because that inherently means they will have to deal with a salesperson via phone call or email.

As a business you want them to contact your sales teams so that you can demonstrate how your service will meet their needs and help them overcome any objections they may have.

This is where you need to hit the Persuasion Sweet Spot

To hit the sweet spot you need to give enough to your visitors to build trust and desire. But not too much that they don’t reach out and engage with your sales team.  Below are some examples of how we achieved this for the AIM paid search campaign.

The Paradox of choice

The original landing page had too many choices. The paradox of choice is a concept by American Psychologist Barry Schwartz. If you give people too many options they often do nothing. The original landing page had a plethora of links for a user to get lost in.

The winning landing page removed all navigation and provided a couple of key points on each course, without overloading the user with too much info.

Key Questions: Do you have too much happening on your key pages? Can users easily find the information relevant to them without getting lost in too many options? 

Displaying the  unique selling points of AIM

The original landing page actually had some great unique points of difference. The only problem that they were hidden in a video tucked to the side.

The winning landing page addressed this by making this video more prominent and adding a few bullet points alongside it.

Key Questions: What is your college’s unique selling point? Why should someone choose you instead of all the other options available to them? (including the option of doing nothing at all). 
Hint: If your answer is “because we are the best” or something similar then you need to dig deeper. How are you the best? Can you prove to a user you are the best?  Consumers inherently ignore such claims as they have heard it all before.

Reducing the ask of the visitor

The original landing page’s goal was to get a user to Apply Now. This is a big emotional commitment for someone who has just landed on the page for the first time. It implies that they have made their mind up on what course they want to do and that they have decided to do it with AIM.

As it turns out, the potential student still has to be interviewed and auditioned to see if they will be accepted. Bearing this in mind we changed the wording from Apply Now to Check Your Eligibility.

The psychological implication of Checking Your Eligibility is that a visitor hasn’t necessarily committed to this course nor have they committed to studying with AIM. It is a less scary commitment. In short, don’t ask someone to marry you before you have asked them out on the first date. In practice, the visitor still provides the same information as they did before and quality of the lead is still high.

Key Questions: What are you asking your visitors to do on your site? Is it too high an ask? Are there smaller commitments you can ask from them that will still get them in the sales pipeline and guide them through the journey quicker?

Micro commitments

In Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence” he talks about commitments. Once we take a small step to a goal we are more likely to take the second step. Salespeople know this. This is why they try and get you to say Yes several times before they attempt to close the sale.

It is why car salespeople try to get you to say Yes to a test drive before they try to get you to say Yes to a sale.

On the AIM landing page, we implemented this concept through the use of a two-step form. The form fields in the first step were non-threatening questions with no personally identifiable questions that tied in with the Call to Action (CTA) of Check Your Eligibility.

Once the visitor submits their answers in the first step they are taken to Step Two which asks for their personal details. Because they have already committed to filling in the first part of the form they were much more likely to complete the second part.

Key QuestionsWhat small commitment can you get a visitor to take before you ask them to provide their personal details? How can you break down your main goal into smaller steps?

Scarcity/Urgency

All of us love to delay a decision. Especially a big life-altering decision. So imagine how easy it must be for a teenage school leaver to delay their application for university. People need to be given a recent to act now.

  • Groupon knows this: Buy this super deal now as it is gone tomorrow.
  • Amazon knows this. Buy now as there is only 1 left in stock.

Unfortunately, many education providers don’t implement this. For AIM we gave visitors a reason as to why they need to Act Now. We used a countdown timer that was set to the cut off time for application. Visitors were given a real reason as to why they had to take action right then before it was too late.

Surprisingly enough as the date drew closer there wasn’t an exponential increase in conversion rate. Implying that having the countdown timer on the page even if the closing date is still a considerable time away was still generated enough FOMO (fear of missing out) to get people to action then and there.

In addition, we added urgency to the main call to action button,  Check if I Qualify Now. Telling people that they need to act now has consistently shown an increase in conversions for our clients in A/B split tests.

Key Questions: How can you imply a sense of urgency to your visitors? Does the copy and call to actions on your site communicate a need for a visitor to act now?

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NOW
For a lot of marketing managers, it can be difficult to tie all these concepts together into a process that leads to more sales. That’s why we’ve made it easy for you. For a Cheatsheet Visual Guide to creating an effective landing page click on the button below.
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