Lead Generation Program Cuts Cost Per Lead by More Than 50%
Maryville University is a nationally known private university based in St. Louis, MO. Maryville is well known for its Adult and Online Education programs, and its RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree is a particularly popular program that helps nurses advance in their careers.
Maryville sought to create a trackable and scalable digital growth strategy aimed at reaching adult students. While the university had been tracking baseline metrics such as clicks and impressions, university staff wanted to dive deeper to better understand cost per lead and how its marketing programs were impacting Adult and Online enrollment overall, and particularly in the RN to BSN program.
Content Marketing
We introduced the idea of using content marketing to drive more prospects to the top of the marketing funnel and create an audience segment of potential students to target its programs to. In one example, we created a lead-generating quiz, "Is a career in healthcare right for you?" If the results showed the prospect was a good fit, they would be sent follow-up information and served targeted ads about Maryville healthcare programs.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
A top priority for Maryville was making it easier for potential students to apply to its programs. After reviewing quantitative and qualitative user behavior trends, we developed a list of changes to the website that had the potential to help improve the site’s overall conversion rate. In one example, we created a standout “Apply Now” button above the fold on its home page, making it easier to find the application link – which previously required digging deeper into the site. To test effectiveness, 50% of prospects saw the button, and 50% did not.
Landing Pages
A series of landing pages were developed to encourage prospects to take one step further towards becoming a student, such as inquiring about a course or program, driving them further down the funnel. These pages were the target of the paid media efforts, including search, Facebook, programmatic, and retargeting ads. To help identify which ad buys were performing best, we continually iterated on the ad buys pointing to this landing page, running A/B tests to eliminate options. In a second example, we utilized the Facebook “Canvas” program, which is an immersive, mobile experience created with a combination of text, images, video, and carousels to inform and educate the user. The purpose was to help the user better understand the Maryville experience – from a 360-degree view of campus, to details about the benefits of the program, and ultimately a link to learn more.
In five months of running this holistic digital marketing program, Maryville saw its cost per lead cut in half, while simultaneously getting higher-quality leads with an increased prospect-to-start ratio. The CRO program was particularly successful, resulting in a 50% boost in completed applications following the placement of the "Apply Now" button on the homepage and driving the university to implement a process of continuous improvement for its website to continue improving the site's application rate.
Increased Application Rate
Cost Per Lead
The efforts resulted in one of the strongest starts ever with the following year’s spring nursing cohort. The full program increased quality leads and improved tracking and message effectiveness, helping Maryville spend its digital marketing budget more efficiently.


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