McMaster University Centre for Continuing Education Case Study

McMaster CCE Case Study

How Reach Digital Unlocked Growth to Skyrocket ROAS

The Challenge

McMaster CCE is an academic institution offering a diverse range of continuing education programs for full time, part time and international students across two campuses in Ontario. Reach Digital has been managing McMaster CE’s online advertising for post-secondary programs since 2015.

The specific challenge for both Reach Digital and McMaster CE was to increase mature student enrolment online via targeted paid search & display campaigns.

Initial Setup: Building the Account Structure

With so many different programs on which to focus and a competitive landscape ahead, the first step was to ensure a well-organized account structure. To this end, Reach Digital performed extensive keyword research and built each campaign based on the faculty & program and worked down from there.

The structure:


  • Campaigns: sorted by program (general), campus, user location, full time/part time, on-site/online delivery, and overall brand


  • Ad groups: sorted by program (specific), program type, courses, campus, full time/part time and on-site/online delivery


  • Ads: included information on program start dates, program/certificate/course descriptions, potential career paths, credential opportunities and associated events, with 3 ads per ad group


  • Ad extensions: leverages to include sitelinks, location links, callouts, and structured snippets to encourage click-throughs and enhance ad size


  • Landing page content: reflected the keyword research process and included a clear call to action for the next logical step for users to convert

Unlocking Growth: Goals, Ad Copy, Bid Management, Landing Page Optimization and Client Collaboration

With the account structure in place and the campaign launched, it was time to think bigger and more long-term. The primary focus was on ensuring all campaigns offered users a seamless experience from search to click to navigation, all the way to a successful conversion.

This process consisted of:


  • Goal configuration audit & overall to ensure tracked conversions aligned with the campaign strategy, specifically increasing enrolment and program page traffic


  • Ad copy refresh & testing to continuously determine what language and which keywords and calls to action resulted in the best CTR


  • Customization of each campaign to ensure they aligned with the customer and buying journey specific to each program


  • Goal value implementation for all programs in order to accurately measure the return on ad spend on a course-by-course basis


  • Bid management based on results, program, enrolment date, performance (i.e., day, device, time) to achieve lower spend & higher returns


  • Landing page optimization including content audits, heatmaps, clickmaps and content support to maximize user experience & engagement


  • Client collaboration to ensure the campaign changes aligned with the customer journey and established goals for the target audience of mature students

End Result: A Substantial Increase in ROAS, Average Goal Value

Reach Digital’s work on building and managing the account with best practices and always-on campaign optimization drove significant impacts to McMaster CE’s return on ad spend YOY, improving click-through rates and campaign budget utility in the process:

McMaster CCE case study results showing 420% return on ad spend

McMaster CCE case study results showing 224% increase in average goal value

McMaster CCE case study results showing 273% increase in ad impressions

McMaster CCE case study results showing 4.08% increase in search ad CTR

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