HE must embrace digital marketing to engage with students

By Owen Morris, Head of Public Relations and Corporate Communications at University of Northampton

It’s received wisdom that a well-conceived university prospectus can be a highly influential tool for attracting prospective students to apply for admissions. Especially important is that a prospectus can be appealing and easily accessed by young people in an age where they have a window to the world through their mobile devices.

At the University of Northampton we recognised this need and began to look for ways to combine the traditional with the digital – by employing a dynamic and amendable online publishing solution that complemented our more traditional print prospectus. 

With our university in the process of building a new campus and moving from its current locations by 2018, there was also a compelling business need to create a prospectus where content could be easily and swiftly updated. This is not just good recruitment practice, but a legal necessity – as with an evolving campus – we have to show prospective students exactly where they’ll be studying.

Seeking expert help

We chose a bespoke publishing solution from Better Than Paper, after examining its product at Marketing Week Live in 2016. As part of a tender process, we considered alternative solutions, but none were found that we felt could deliver the same level of technical capabilities.

Better Than Paper was favoured as it offered more than just a publishing solution. Its self-service cloud tool features integrated CRM functions to create a digital prospectus that offers a meaningful and interactive dialogue with prospective students. This can be achieved through targeted, personalised student-orientated content, integrated analytics, location based services, social network integration and push notifications. All these features promised to make the prospectus work harder for our investment. 

The ability to serve current, targeted content is now what is expected from most modern brands and this level of expectation has crept into the educational world. With Better Than Paper, we now have a powerful sales tool that will help us improve student engagement and ultimately benefit our recruitment activities. 

Better Than Paper ensured that our digital prospectus can be delivered across ios and Android – as they are the largest device platforms used by prospective and current students. A web version has also been created to ensure that it’s open to all target audiences and resides on our website.


We are now utilising the digital prospectus to work in tandem with a print version to showcase our offerings to applicants joining in 2018. Details, such as individual courses, are now available at the swipe of a screen. With the online format, the university can conduct real time editing and publishing, allowing for news, case studies and open day content to be updated and then instantly pushed out to prospective students. New courses can be added into a digital prospectus, which is impossible with a paper copy – without incurring further expense.

We discovered Better Than Paper’s publishing platform at the perfect time to improve how we communicate and connect with potential students in the ever-evolving digital space, and it changed our mind-set about what a prospectus can be. 

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