We are experiencing times of unprecedented student recruitment challenges in UK higher education. The need to reach a wider base of audiences in the UK and overseas has seen many universities start to take video, and other rich media content such as virtual tours, much more seriously. But how can universities make sure their rich media spend is working as hard as it could and is resulting in increased student enrolments?
To further understand this, University Business caught up with Vicky Hayhurst, Commercial Director at Revolution Viewing – the sector’s leading video and rich media supplier. Vicky has visited 106 UK universities in the last four years. Her visits range from project briefings and debriefings, to delivering research presentations about what prospective students need and want from rich media, to strategic consultancy with senior marketeers to help universities plan their rich media requirements alongside their overarching student recruitment strategy.
Revolution Viewing’s work and client base mean that the agency has a unique insight into how the sector is using rich media content in the pursuit of student recruitment.
So let’s start with the things that universities have been doing well:
● interrogating campaign results and asking more from advertising and content distribution agencies who are using more sophisticated programmatic marketing
● recruiting more in-house content producers, especially for social media, where there has been some great success with low budget, high-impact targeted recruitment campaigns – Loughborough University and the University of Glasgow have done particularly well here
● setting metrics to measure the success of rich media content, measuring and reporting on these – the University of Bradford has excelled at this
● harnessing the power of emerging technologies such as chatbots to provide speedy responses to enquiries at key points in the recruitment cycle – well done to Leeds Beckett for their award-winning clearing campaign
● understanding that high-quality content, which makes enquirers feel reassured about applying to a university and applicants feel proud to accept an offer, must be supported by student-led, authentic content and both must stay true to the university’s brand – Lancaster University and London Metropolitan have had some real wins
● realising that personalisation (if done well…) is key to increasing the impact of messaging, especially during conversion – the University of Salford has run a personalised conversion video campaign for the past two years spending half of what it would have spent on printed direct mail pieces and increasing the percentages of offers to firm accepts
And here are the things universities should focus on to make their money work harder:
● conduct consistently, and far enough in advance, content planning and align this with insight of multiple audiences and their increasing expectations, behaviours and needs at various stages of the recruitment cycle
● use insight to build the case for investment and show the impact it has across other recruitment tools – for example, Revolution Viewing knows that almost 90% of prospective students* are more likely to attend an open day or apply to a university if they have previously seen content that the agency has produced
● implement end-to-end CRM systems (or at least an approach to CRM if there is no system) – this enables more targeted recruitment and measurement of return
● factor in audience targeting and distribution platforms when budgeting and ensure consistency of investment from one year to the next
● share campaigns and objectives across marketing agency partners
● keep content records and share these internally so that teams are aware of what content could be used across the institution and where there are gaps
● don’t allow subjectivity, institutional history or bias to cloud decisions – work with credible agencies whose experience and knowledge can help to reduce the risk here
Vicky Hayhurst is Commercial Director at Revolution Viewing