How We Scaled Lead Volume 250% for a Trade School [Case Study]

Learn how we made digital marketing the #1 channel for new customer acquisition for I-TAP while reducing their ad spend.

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Three years ago, Nowspeed was handed an incredible opportunity.

We got an email from the Independent Training & Apprenticeship Program (I-TAP), a trade school in Sacramento, inquiring about our services. What started out as a business owner ‘kicking the tires’ on digital marketing has since turned into one of our most successful partnerships.

Oh, we also doubled the size of their business while reducing their overall marketing expenses.

“I wasn’t sure, originally, how any of this online stuff was going to help us. We always used to do well enough with tv and other ads. Now, how can I spend even more money and get results on the internet?”

Norm – I-TAP’s owner

In less than three years, I-TAP has experienced:

  • 250% increase in lead volume
  • 360% increase organic traffic
  • 100% increase in class size

In this case study, we’re going to show you exactly how we did it.

In looking at the current results, however, it’s important to understand where they started. Up until 2018, I-TAP had been focusing on the following marketing tactics:

  • ‘As-seen-on-TV’ late-night and daytime commercials
  • Word of mouth and networking
  • Career fairs and events

They were earning a handful of leads per week with these efforts.

“Before we started working with Nowspeed, I used to visit career fairs and other events and get maybe 3 or 4 hard-fought leads a week. At this very moment, I am doing my best to manage 56 leads from this month alone!”

Norm – I-TAP’s owner

Needless to say, focusing on digital marketing has paid off big time. Our approach was simple but significant. We concentrated on three key areas:

  • Transform the website
  • Attracting a better audience
  • Converting that audience into students

Here’s how it all went down.

Transforming the I-TAP Website

It is a strict Nowspeed policy to never speak negatively of a client’s website. We will say, however, that their site circa 2017 could use some improvement.

Old I-TAP website

It wasn’t just the design that offered room for improvement, either.

One of the major problems was that it wasn’t focused on any particular goal. We specialize in not only making great-looking websites, but websites that serve an organizational goal. In this case, we were looking to increase student enrollment.

Therefore, we started with a new messaging strategy.

If you visit the current I-TAP site, you’ll see the very first thing that draws your attention is the tagline “Start Your New Electrical Career,” which then leads to a very simple form. After that, the phone number stands out. In this way, we presented an extremely clear call to action and provided a path forward for site visitors.

In addition to providing clear next steps, we also wanted to do a better job telling the I-TAP story in a way that resonated with their target audience. The key message is pretty straightforward:

You can make a lot of money as an electrician.

It sounds so simple in hindsight, but note that this messaging is nowhere to be found on the previous site! We added some actual job titles and salaries to bring the point home and help the site visitor establish a vision of what their new career might look like.

Another thing we found out in our discovery process is that their audience doesn’t really like school. In a happy coincidence, I-TAP caters to this with a lot of field and lab work. We decided to showcase this with not only messaging but rich photography to bring the concept to life.

Here’s the final result.

New I-TAP website

A significant improvement over the original, to say the least. But we weren’t done yet—websites can only convert traffic into customers if they attract visitors, and that’s where our digital marketing strategy came into play.

Attracting a Better Audience with Ads and SEO

At the time, I-TAP’s primary advertising channels were ‘As-Seen-on-TV’ late-night or daytime commercials, radio ads, Yellow Pages, and career fairs. Not only were these ads expensive (five figures per month), they were also ineffective and targeting the wrong audience.

They were only generating a handful of low-quality leads each month. Their cost to acquire a new customer could range up to $10,000, which really ate into their margin. We implemented website and call tracking, and lo and hold, we concluded that the TV ads were not driving leads—there was no uptick in lead volume during the window of time while their ads aired. Could the TV ads be raising awareness and causing somebody to call a few days later? Perhaps, but that seems like a pretty big gamble.

Here’s a snapshot of what proper marketing tracking looks like:

  • Always using a tracking phone number on your ads—one that is separate from your main business line so you can attribute phone calls to particular ads
  • Same thing with tracking URLs—don’t just use your web address—use a masking address so we can track website visits from a particular ad
  • Installing proper analytics on the website—if done well, we can see a traffic increase directly correlated to the dates you run ads on the TV or radio
  • Training staff to ask the question, “Where did you hear about us?”

In order to access a better audience, people who were actually in-market for their offering, we switched to Google Ads targeting keywords related to their industry. Even with a budget that was only 10% of their TV spend, we immediately increased their monthly lead volume by 650%.

Some key factors for Google Ads include:

  • In-depth ad targeting and scheduling including devices, time of day, and demographics
  • Custom landing pages created to cater to the ad, not just pointing ads to the home page
  • Responsible and accountable spend budgets to get the best result per dollar spent
  • Keyword and ad text experimentation to improve overall performance

Once we got traction with their digital ad campaigns, we used our newfound keyword data (along with good old-fashioned research and intuition) to build out a content strategy that would bring in even more traffic.

When we began working with I-TAP, they had a few popular keywords ranking on the front page of Google, and a strong branded ranking (since they’ve been around quite some time), but nothing to write home about. One of our core goals was to make sure that when anyone in the region searched for terms including “electrician training” or “electrical school,” that they’d at the very least see I-TAP.

Some of the things we worked on included:

  • Rewriting all page content
  • Optimizing their new website for speed, usability and readability
  • Auditing and cleaning up local SEO
  • Ongoing tweaking of landing pages to ensure clear messaging for crawlers

The end result is that I-TAP ranks in the top 3 for all major targeted keywords! The #1 most searched term, “electrical schools,” has gone from the middle of page 2 of the SERPs to #1 overall! As you can imagine, this has increased their web traffic pretty significantly over time, and increased the number of organic leads they receive from zero to 10 or more per month.

I-TAP organic traffic

In speaking with the client, we realized there were several smaller niches underneath the “electrical school” topic. By creating blog posts focused on these super niche topics, we were able to attract highly targeted organic visitors who were actively searching for our solutions.

Here are a few examples of articles that worked very well:

With traffic and leads flowing in the door, we decided to take another look to see if there was anything else we could do to scale their results.

Sales Processes to Convert More Website Visitors into Customers

Now that I-TAP had more leads than they had ever had before, it was time to make sure we were all doing everything we could to make sure each one was given every possible opportunity to convert into a student.

So we helped them define their sales process—the exact steps to take when somebody called or filled out a form, and how to onboard students at volume (their class sizes more than doubled).

In working with all these leads, one thing we noticed was many of the prospective students preferred to text or use social media direct messages to communicate with I-TAP, as opposed to phone calls. Given that most of these folks were in their 20’s, that made sense.

In order to make the sales process as smooth as possible, we implemented a text messaging system with CallRail. This allowed prospects to chat and ask questions in a space where they felt more comfortable.

We even updated the website copy to encourage leads to text in their questions and comments. In this way, we helped I-TAP connect with even more students and increase their lead to customer conversion rate.

The end result is that today, I-TAP is hiring more instructors, and teaching more students than ever before.

The crucial thing to note is that it wasn’t a singular tactic that transformed I-TAP’s business—rather, it was a series of connected moves that formed a larger digital marketing strategy. We actually have a framework for this—we call it the Digital Blueprint for Business.

This is the exact framework we use to grow our clients’ businesses without growing their advertising budgets. Click the image below to see the Digital Blueprint for Business in action!

Digital Blueprint for Business


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