University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Masters of Science in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics

How we boosted admissions and delivered 2,454% Return on Investment​

The Client

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP), needed to drive enrollment numbers and reach potential students interested in applying to the nation’s first graduate program dedicated to the study of medical cannabis which was launch in the Fall of 2019.

The Challenges and Goals

  • Visibility and awareness. As the first university in the country to offer a master’s degree of this kind, very few people knew that such a program existed. Our first goal was to increase awareness and interest among graduate-level students.

  • Short campaign lifespan. UMSOP not only needed us to get the word out to the right audience but also help boost their enrollment within a very short 45-day time span.

  • Google Ad compliance concerns. Google has very strict advertising regulations when it comes to marketing anything that centers around cannabis/marijuana.

  • Follow up/long-term marketing strategy for future semesters. Develop an online strategy that would allow UMSOP to stay in front of prospective students who expressed interest in the MS program, but did not enroll in the Fall 2019 semester.

Digital Caffeine’s Solutions

  • Targeted Search Network campaigns. Our paid search efforts centered around reaching a highly relevant audience based on search intent. Our keyword selections were well researched and thoughtfully chosen to ensure UMSOP’s ads served high on the results page when any prospect Googled something closely related to cannabis/medical marijuana advanced education

  • Competition campaign. While UMSOP is the first in the nation to offer a master’s in medical cannabis, there are other institutions around the country offering classes, training, and certifications. We felt bidding on these “competitor terms” was a smart strategy to get the UMSOP program in front of people who did not know about their program but exploring similar options online.

  • Issues with ads being flagged for compliance was an initial and expected setback. However, thanks to our relationship with Google as a Google Partner, we were able to work directly with our agency’s representative to push through ads that were disapproved for having the word ‘cannabis’ in the copy.

  • At the start of the campaign, we made sure Google Analytics was collecting data from site visits. This way, we were able to quickly roll out a remarketing campaign on the Google Display Network that would reach prospective students as they searched the web.

The Results

  • 3 million ad impressions and 24K clicks to the landing page – tremendous ad engagement. The benchmark search network ad click-through rate (CTR) for the education industry is 3.7% — UMSOP’s campaign was consistently at 6% or higher. We were able to successfully introduce the program to a very specific audience AND attract them to learn more through the ads. Additionally, we were capturing all this user data for future remarketing initiatives.

  • 23% Conversion Rate – the average education industry CVR is 3.3%! The Google Ads search campaigns not only increased program awareness but also resulted in 1.9K lead/contact form completions.

  • 2,454% Return on Investment of the advertising spend. The Google Ads campaign led to 27 student enrollments and a huge return on their marketing dollars.

From the client


Digital Caffeine rose to the challenge and was able to quickly propose a plan, develop the creative, build landing pages, and launch a campaign for our new program that had a six week recruitment timeline. The agency provided frequent updates about campaign metrics and held meetings to discuss recommendations on how to optimize the campaign. They also offered invaluable guidance on how to nurture the leads once we had their attention. We were very pleased with the results of the campaign.


Erin Merino, senior marketing specialist at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.