As summer rolls in, so does a wave of anticipation for students and higher education institutions alike. It’s that time of the year when the academic world gears up to hit enrollment targets, battle the competition and maximise the impact of your Clearing budgets.
So, what’s the pathway to success?
With an ever-evolving higher education landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. As experts in education marketing, we have collected last year’s learning and this year’s key predictions that will empower your institution’s summer recruitment strategy this summer.
But first, what key things did we learn last year?
- Start your campaigns yesterday
Although in 2022 31% of students started researching for their clearing placement in August, 14% actually started in July. It’s important that your campaigns are loud and proud well before students start researching on results day, as it’s pretty likely they’ve already been scoping potential options beforehand.
A multi-channel approach is best to drive conversions at this stage, ensuring all student touchpoints are covered in your campaigns. Taking advantage of a full-funnel channel mix will ensure you maximise brand awareness to get a head-start over your competition across the entire student journey, bringing more students to your institution and smashing your enrolment targets.
Personalisation across your marketing tactics can increase conversion by 19%, so adapt your messaging to match the tone of voice of each channel, address your audience according to their stage in their application process, and test which messages resonate better than others to spark ongoing success.
- Optimise your social media strategies
Do you know what platforms your prospects are engaging with? While you may have a tried-and-tested approach to targeting students, it’s key that you adapt your strategy to meet your audiences where they’re spending most of their time – and don’t forget about their key influencers (their parents and guardians) either!
After the UCAS main website, most students had seen an advertisement for their placement university on social media. In fact, 43% of students had used social media to find their clearing uni, and less than 5% of UCAS respondents seeing advertisements out of home.
Ensuring you have consistently optimised your social campaigns through the clearing process will help keep your institution at the front of student minds – and we’re not just talking brand awareness. Using precision targeting and remarketing tactics will ensure you are bringing in high-intent students that are more likely to apply.
- Trust in clearing is at an all time high
UCAS found that more students than ever before are trusting the clearing process.
The proportion of applicants who released themselves into Clearing and already had agreed a place continues to decline, with 56% of students having already agreed a place through clearing last year.
With this increasing student trust in the process, this means positioning your institution as the go to option is incredibly important. Reinforce this process with your ads, showing the smooth, easy process of applying to your institution via clearing and showcasing what sets you apart from the competition.
Ensuring that all campaigns are set-up according to platform best practice is crucial to ensure that you hit your KPIs and keep costs low. We even offer a free consultation to audit your current set-up and make sure that you’re on the right path to drive success.
Our predictions for 2023
Ready for a new era of clearing? Our expert team of advertisers have you covered, with their predictions for the 2023 clearing period.
Cost of living affecting student choice
91% of students are worried about the cost-of-living crisis, and more students than ever are choosing to study near their family home to save money on rent.
Creating hyper-localised campaigns will ensure that students can access campus without having to live on campus – and dealing with costs that living away from home can present. Here at Arke, we can hone in on your local audience with effective hyper-targeting solutions through a range of paid media channels and strategies.
For example, using Spotify advertising we were able to reach 9,895 unique users and generate a whopping 89.73% ad completion rate for Keele University using Spotify’s targeting abilities. Audio advertising is a great way of reaching student and parent audiences through engaging advertising creative. Read more about the benefits and how we can help here.
Utilise your budget with niche terms as popularity increases
With technical and specialised courses becoming more popular, universities can make the most of their budget by bidding on super niche search terms.
Niche courses are what makes your institution unique, and you should harness this in your ad copy and creative. Instead of spending your budget on broad searches, build out specific keyword lists in order to reach a pool of prospective students with a proven interest in your offering.
Although these courses lean towards a smaller targeting pool, engagement is likely to be higher if you can correctly layer interest-based targeting on top of keywords, resulting in a stronger ROAS.
Take a look at our work with Keele University to promote their niche Artificial Intelligence and Data Science MSc course in which we generated a groundbreaking 9,845% ROAS and £393,800 in revenue.
Tracking will be your most utilised asset
By mapping out each step a student may go through in the Clearing process, you’ll be able to make sure that each stage is effectively tracked. This will also enable you to discover gaps in data or common drop-off areas..
This vital information can help you to improve landing pages for UX, or even to create retargeting campaigns to re-engage students to nurture them through to conversion.
Once you’ve got a robust tracking infrastructure in place, it’s time to put your data to use and produce reporting dashboards that are easy to visualise and allow you to make quick decisions.
Pulling in data streams from all advertising platforms, Google Analytics, and your in-house systems, allows you to measure student journeys from first touchpoint right through to application and enrolment, meaning you can prove your marketing success and effectively attribute your results to the activity that generated them.
If you’re ready to conquer Clearing this summer, we’re here to help. The recruitment cycle never stops and the competition for students’ attention is tougher than ever, and we know just how to help your institution stand out from the crowd.
Book a call with our team of experts to provide you with a bespoke action plan, book yours now.