Four ways universities can improve click-through rates for Facebook ads

university admissions, weekly tips, student recruitment, university marketing, university recruitment, facebook ads

Facebook advertising offers schools an effective and measurable way to reach out to, engage with and recruit new students. The social media platform is becoming increasingly influential and now has over 1.55 billion users each month worldwide. Whether you’re targeting parents of young students, mature applicants or international students, chances are they’re on Facebook.

Here are four ways universities can optimise Facebook ads and maximise click-through rates.

1. Define and target your audience

It’s best practice to define your student or parent personas before launching any kind of digital recruitment strategy. Once you know the market segments of the persona you’d like to reach (examples include age, gender, location and interests) be sure to fully leverage Facebook’s targeting tools for advertisers.

How targeting helps protect your ads’ relevance score

Not only are targeted ads much more likely to actually engage your intended audience (and result in conversions) – they will also help you maintain a healthy relevance score on Facebook.

Facebook scores your ad from one to ten based on the positive or negative feedback they expect it will generate from viewers. The more times they predict viewers will hide or report your ad, the lower its score will be.

Facebook wants to ensure that the ads people run are actually targeted to an audience that will appreciate and want to engage with them (rather than being perceived as spam).

Tracking the relevance score of your ads will help you:

  • lower the cost of reaching people on Facebook: the higher your ad’s score, the less it costs to be delivered

  • test creative options to see which version of your ad yields the highest score

  • optimise ads that are already running by monitoring their scores and making improvements when needed to improve conversion

University campus


2. Represent current students and alumni in your images

Representing real students and alumni in your ads helps draw viewers into your academic community, humanises your brand and minimises the perception of your ad as spam (all of which translates into more clicks).

Prospective applicants will be looking not only for a degree, but to be part of a community. If you are not using a diverse sampling of your students and alumni for your advertisement, you could potentially lose quality applicants.

3. Add a call-to-action with an incentive

Many institutions neglect to include a clear call-to-action (CTA) in their Facebook ad. Viewers want to know that clicking on your ad will be worthwhile, so why not beef up your CTAs with some kind of added value you know will interest your target audience?

This could be as simple as offering an easy online sign-up for free information and a campus tour. Other content offers include viewbooks, e-brochures, a trial class or an invitation to view student video testimonials.

Rather than trying to solicit clicks with the ubiquitous (and somewhat vague) ‘learn more’, give your audience something relevant to look forward to when they fill out your landing page form or arrive at your website.

4. Track, analyse, test

Facebook has its own tools universities can use to measure the performance of their ads. These tools also include instructions for how to fine-tune your copy and images to improve CTRs.

A/B testing (or split testing) should also be a part of your ongoing analysis because it allows you to know precisely which elements of your ads resonate most persuasively with the target audience.

Schools can run two ads that are identical (except for one small variation) and then use the tracking tool to measure engagement and determine which ad to run with.

Examples of ad elements you could test include:

  • images (try testing how human images perform against non-human visuals or video content versus a still image)

  • CTAs (placed at the top of the ad versus the bottom, or two different versions of CTA text)

  • textual description (compare phrasing of two value propositions)

You’ll find steps for A/B testing your ads on Facebook’s ads manager.

Routinely tracking, measuring and testing your ads is the best way to boost your click-through rates and enhance the overall ROI of your social media student recruitment.


To learn how FULL FABRIC could streamline your recruitment process, schedule a free consultation.

university admissions weekly tips student recruitment university marketing university recruitment facebook ads


Justin Pace

Justin Pace

I work for ISM and contribute to FULL FABRIC as a guest blogger. I am a digital marketing and communications professional focusing on higher education. My passion is for data and entrepreneurship. I am originally from the United States and have recently relocated to London after living in France for six years. I enjoy travelling, baseball, social enterprises, and cold weather.

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