columbia college of chicago-
paid ads on search and social media

Columbia College of Chicago received thousands of qualified leads when working with Careful Feet Digital on their Google, Facebook and Instagram ads

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The Brief

Columbia College Chicago Online (CCCO) was the online education branch of a Columbia Chicago College. CCCO provided online courses in a range of subjects from AR/VR programming to creative writing. 


Before working with CFD, Columbia College Chicago Online only had rudimentary analytics and attribution systems in place. Ad activities weren’t tracked, and numbers were very approximate, such as how many leads and enrollments were a result of ads. There was little idea of what the ROAS was. Strategically, the brief was challenging since CCCO featured 22 separate courses and six certificate programs. With a few exceptions, each course was a separate entity, which required its own target audience, unique approach to assets, copy and for search, individualized keyword strategies.


Tracking And Analytics

To get the most out of advertising activities, Careful Feet Digital implemented a robust tracking system. Any system  implemented had to have minimal impact on the way the CCCO sales team worked with their leads, so CFD could not implement a traditional CRM. To complicate things further, each course featured flexible pricing.

To address the issues, CFD decided to proceed with a classic testing approach on the ad, ad set, campaign and landing page level. This was done separately for each platform — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Ads and enabled the implementation of basic Google Analytics goals.

Once established, this simple analytics system provided insights into the performance of each course. From there, CFD was able to calculate target numbers and adjust budgets between courses as needed. As a result, the number of registrations per budget grew steadily.

Goal completion screenshot

For lead generation, CFD tested multiple channels, including Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Google Ads. After a period of testing, all platforms except Facebook Ads and Google Ads were paused.

Facebook Ads

On Facebook, CFD proceeded with Conversion ads. Moving away from Lead Gen ads and driving traffic to the actual landing pages increased the quality of leads. The ad/landing page combo did a better job of selling the course than just an ad. Additionally, it introduced a certain element of friction in the process, which qualified the leads.

CCCO Ads Performance Screenshot

Testing is an important part of CFD’s strategic approach. On the ad set level, CFD tested placements and audiences (lookalikes vs. interests vs. demographics), trying to find combinations that performed well for each course. On the ad level, CFD tested different copy and assets. For the assets, images were tested against each other as well as shorter video clips of 5 to 30 seconds. As for the copy, CFD tested different lengths and tones and addressed different benefits and appeals, looking for what resonated the best with target audiences.

paid social case study stats

Google Ads

On Google CFD prioritized Search ads. While being the most expensive option, they aligned well with buyers’ intent and provided good conversion rates. CFD’s focus was on getting a list of well-converting keywords for each campaign while filtering low-intent queries. Generally, testing began with modified broad match keywords to research the potential of each keyword. Gradually there was a shift from BMM to phrase and exact match keywords, as they have the highest conversion potential.

paid search case study stats

To cut down less relevant queries, CFD maintained lists of negative keywords. Each campaign had its own list, but w general lists for all campaigns were also used.