Marketing Case Study – McMaster University

The problem

McMaster University is a leading university in Canada and one of the top 100 universities in the world. The Centre for Continuing Education at McMaster University offers credit and non-credit courses in both traditional and online formats. The Centre’s website receives approximately 25,000 visits per month, making it an important component of their marketing.

In the fall of 2010, McMaster engaged JMH Consulting to undertake an aggressive series of improvements to their online presence, to increase website visits, leads and ultimately, revenue. These projects included paid search and paid social media ads as well as custom landing pages, navigational improvements, and conversion optimization for the website.

Our solution

Our solution included the following five steps:

  1. We built and optimized a set of paid online ad campaigns using Google Adwords, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  2. We simplified the primary navigation bar by removing several buttons and giving others more prominence.
  3. We created a set of targeted landing pages for the paid search and social media campaigns.
  4. We reengineered the checkout process to provide a streamlined enrollment funnel for new students.
  5. We integrated a CRM system into the website and added prominent calls-to-action on several dozen pages.

The results

In 2011, McMaster University has experienced record-setting website visits, record enrollments, and record revenue generation.  After just two months:

  • By targeting highly qualified searchers with paid online advertising and optimizing the website visitor experience, we greatly improved the value of website visitors originating from paid search:
    • The bounce rate dropped by 5%
    • Average pages per visit increased by 21%
    • Average time on site increased by 50%
  • Overall organic (non-paid) search traffic increased by 30%; organic traffic from searchers not already looking for McMaster increased by 90%.
  • Checkout process abandonment rates decreased (improved) by 2.5%; while the overall conversion rate improved by 5%.
  • The first two modules of McMaster’s new Project Management Certificate sold out, with 32 students in each class.
  • The McMaster Addiction Education program realized a record-breaking 20% enrollment growth – from 265 students in 2010 to 318 in 2011.

“This was the first of many successful initiatives with JMH. We continue to rely on JMH’s expertise for optimizing our online marketing initiatives.” – Christine Brooks-Cappadocia