ContentEd 2019 speaker Vicky Hayhurst explores what’s working – and what should be working – in the world of rich content and recruitment.
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 that the choice to dedicate time and financial resources to rich media is contributing to increased student enrolments? Over the past four years I’ve visited over 100 UK universities to talk about this very issue.
My visits to universities in my role as Commercial Director of Revolution Viewing, range from project briefings and debriefings, to delivering research presentations about what prospective students need and want from rich media, to strategic consultancy to help universities plan their rich media requirements alongside their overarching student recruitment strategy.
From these visits, I’ve been able to distil a few things that universities are doing well – and where they might need to focus some more effort.
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 have 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, that makes enquirers feel reassured about applying to a university and applicants feel proud to accept an offer, must also 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 in printed direct mail pieces and increasing the percentages of offers to firm accepts.
And here are the things universities should look at next to make their money work harder:
– conduct consistent, and advanced, 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
– 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 in 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.
We’re always looking for great examples of rich media that has really made a difference – if you have any, please send them my way: firstname.lastname@example.org – and if you want to talk about rich media in more detail, come an find me at ContentEd 2019.
Vicky will be delivering her session “Planning, delivering and measuring rich media content using a research-based approach” on day 2 of ContentEd 2019.