columbia college of chicago-
lead generation

Columbia College of Chicago received thousands of qualified leads through search and social media ads

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The Brief

Columbia College Chicago Online (CCCO) offers online courses in a range of subjects from AR/VR programming to creative writing. CCCO came to CFD to increase leads generated from digital ads.


Before working with CFD, CCCO ran digital ads, but did not track performance or ROAS. There were 22 separate courses and six certificate programs within the course catalog, most of which required individual campaigns since the target audience and UVP was unique for each. CFD implemented a lead  scoring and tracking system to measure conversion rates and ROAS, and created campaigns with individual ad assets for each course.


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CFD tested multiple channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Google. Facebook and Google provided the best results.

Facebook Ad Results

Facebook Ads

Having started with lead gen ads, we ended up moving away from these as it became clear that ROAS was higher when leads reviewed more course material onsite. Additionally, it introduced a certain element of friction in the process, which further qualified the leads.

CCCO Ads Performance Screenshot

On the ad set level, we tested placements and audiences (lookalikes vs. interests vs. demographics), trying to find combinations that performed well for each course. On the ad level, we tested different copy and assets. For the assets, we tested images and video clips. As for the copy, we tested different lengths and tones and addressed different benefits and value propositions.

paid social case study stats

google ad results

While search ads were the most expensive option, they aligned well with buyers’ intent and provided good conversion rates. We focused on creating a list of high-converting keywords for each campaign while filtering out 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 proved to have the highest conversion potential and the best ROAS.

paid search case study stats