The higher education industry is an interesting position regarding landing page optimization—it was one of the first industries to have adopted landing pages.

Traditionally, many schools had purchased student leads from cost per lead (CPL) vendors; however, the lack of exclusivity through vendors warranted the need for schools to start their own in-house lead generation efforts.  Because of this need, many in the education space started using campaign-landing pages when other industries were only just beginning to explore this aspect of online marketing.

Because higher education institutions have now been using landing pages for lead generation for a while, they’re seeing the benefits that come along with online marketing maturity. This marketing maturity means there are some great landing pages out there that have already been through multiple testing cycles, and are driving really high conversions. However, when anyone spends a lot of time heads-down in advanced landing page strategy, it can be easy to forget about the basic stuff that is still necessary for driving conversions.

From the ad to the landing page

One of the most important, basic elements you want to be able to check off on your landing page list is message match. Message match means making sure your landing page copy correlates directly with the ad that the visitor clicked on.  Message match is one of the essential foundations of highly successful landing pages. 

Here are some higher ed landing page examples that demonstrate message match (and message mismatch).

The example here does not show a strong correlation between the landing page and ad.  The ad reads “Further Your Career with a Computer Networking diploma” but landing page content is all about the school in general. Remember, you make a promise to offer certain information in an ad, and your landing page must deliver on that promise in order to build trust and credibility, and also to hold the visitor’s interest.


Here the correlation between the ad and landing page is stronger than in the first example. However, the ad promises information on “computer networking classes” so the landing page should mirror phrase that instead of discussing an “Information Systems” degree. 


Here, we see another opportunity for lifting conversions with tighter message match.  The ad promises information on a “future in Computer and IT,” and the landing page delivers information on different “Computer Studies” programs.

While you could make the case that a visitor would understand that starting a degree program in computer studies would lead to a “future in Computer and IT,” you should not expect visitor’s to make that kind of correlation on their own. In fact, most visitor’s simply won’t take the time to make that connection. You have mere seconds to attract and retain a visitor’s interest. Do whatever it takes to help them quickly draw a direct line from the ad that caught their interest to the information on your landing page.

From the landing page to the phone call

While none of these landing pages are particularly bad on their own, improved message match between the ad and landing page would likely increase conversions. That being said, getting the conversion and generating leads through landing pages only brings a return on investment if the leads are responded to in a timely fashion.

A recent survey published in Revenue Performance magazine and conducted by LeadQual, shows that only about 61% of landing page visitors who submitted a form on a higher ed landing page received a follow up phone call.  And for those that received a call, it came an average of seven hours after the form was submitted!  This is bad news for the higher ed industry since further research from LeadQual backed up a study by MIT, shows that:

  • Prospective buyers fill out 3-5 lead forms
  • The first to contact a lead increases conversion 238%
  • Calling a lead more than 5 minutes after a lead submits a form has a 46% lower qualification rate than calling in less than 5 minutes
  • Speed of response is the best predictor of a closed transaction

So remember: while using effective message match between ads and landing pages is crucial (as are the other 7 points on our landing page checklist), once that lead is generated, it must be followed up immediately.  After all, attracting the quality lead was the hard part.  The easy part should be contacting them to follow up.