A Quick Guide to Competitor Campaigns for Education

Rachels Competitors Post
Rachel Lehn
February 5, 2018

Like news about the 2018 Winter Olympics, online education is trending up. This growth goes along with the popularity of short-term certificate programs that provide practical skill training, like those offered at General Assembly or Startup Institute.

Let’s face it: if you’re in the technical or online education space, you’ve probably noticed the competition by now.

Wondering how to break free of the competition? Try competitor campaigns. It’s a popular paid search strategy that we’ve found valuable in the education industry for staying ahead of competitors.


What are competitor campaigns?

Competitor campaigns include keywords specific to your competitor’s brand. An example of a competitor campaign is General Assembly bidding on a New York Code + Design Academy keyword. 



Competitor campaigns work across a variety of verticals, but we’ve especially seen their effectiveness in the technical education space.

Fun fact: Google calls this space “Program Education.” This encompasses technical programs that provide you with a specific set of skills and a certificate (versus “Degree Education,” or a traditional Bachelor’s degree or Master’s program).

Technical education programs emphasize practical skills for a specific job, instead of a more general education.


Why are competitor campaigns valuable?

Manager of Search & Social Advertising Quinn Dolan, a resident ping-pong champion and AdWords expert, weighed in on why we’ve seen competitor campaigns perform well for our technical education clients:

“The research process for applying to schools or programs is high-involvement, so prospective students spend a lot of time researching.”

Because researching a school or program is very important to the student, the cycle between initial search and actual conversion or enrollment can be very long (sometimes even two years!).

Bidding on competitor campaigns allows you to take advantage of the long sales cycle. Prospective students are likely to compare schools, and the more often you show up in their search terms, the more exposure your school will get.

Plus, AdWords allows you to see who’s bidding on your brand terms. You might be surprised to see that your biggest competitors are already buying your traffic. If so, it’s definitely time for you to implement the same strategy to make sure that you’re not losing leads to the competition.

For program education, where brand names don’t matter as much as in traditional education, competitor campaigns can be an effective way to get more exposure and bring in more prospective students. For our clients, competitor campaigns were so effective that they reduced the lead cost by 100% in many cases.

While this may have been due to our awesome team, it’s definitely a strategy worth considering in the technical education space. Competitor campaigns can be an effective way to increase the efficiency of your marketing campaigns.


If you’re convinced that it’s time to start some competitor campaigns of your own, but need some help, contact us. We can hook you up with a free analysis of your AdWords efforts and let you know if competitor campaigns are right for you!

Rachel Lehn
Manager, Business Operations

Rachel originates from Kansas City, Missouri (go Royals!). She grew up riding her horse Tinkerbelle and she has a secret knack for making really authentic puppy noises. Two of her greatest wishes? Driving a Tesla and becoming fluent in Russian.

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