MID YEAR CAMPAIGNS: IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS
Over recent years there has been a noticeable increase in university recruiting campaigns for the mid-year intake period. This is a natural outcome of the ever-increasing pressures to deliver student growth in a deregulated, hyper-competitive tertiary education market
The focus on Semester 1 to deliver the big numbers often means the mid-year intake is treated as a secondary affair. And any budget invested in mid-year needs to come from somewhere. The question is how much resource and effort should education marketers commit to their mid year campaign?
The answer should come from careful analysis of the market, but too often ‘strategy’ is no more than an amalgam of ‘common sense’ based on historical results, received wisdom and prevailing commercial pressures. This tends to be self-fulfilling: whether it’s under-investing, or investing in the wrong priorities, the result will be the same.
But there are some basic strategies any marketer can follow to maximise mid-year:
LOOK AT THE NUMBERS
The foundation comes from determining the market size and potential for each field of study. And for mid year, it is even more important to properly analyse and understand seasonal potential for the market as a whole. It is important to understand if, where and how you are under-performing.
REVIEW THE COMPETITORS
The next piece of the puzzle, if there appears to be a market worth chasing, is to map the competitive landscape. Who are you up against, are they out-performing you? If so, why?
TAKE AN HONEST LOOK AT YOUR PRODUCT
Does the market believe your offering is uncompetitive? If so, this needs to be acknowledged and addressed. In reality, as a marketer, you are still tasked to deliver numbers. But if you have some handicaps, you’ll need to adjust your marketing effort to address them as much as possible. On the upside, you are just as likely to find you have a great product that, with some more effective marketing, could substantially grow its market share. Look for student surveys, put together some focus groups. Knowledge is king.
UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Market analysis and strategy is a lot sharper when based on audience insights and well-formed personas. These help interrogate the customer journey for friction points and opportunities to turn inquiries into leads. When you’ve identified your key competitors for a course, analyse and compare their communications touch points on the consumer journey. Where are they winning? How could you address this, and even do a better job? In the case of mid-year, it is often true that many mature prospects are planning to delay committing until semester 1 intake. Your campaign messaging may need to address and overcome this mindset.
THINK ENERGETIC & INTEGRATED
Research suggests over 80% of applicants will fill out a form without having had any physical communication with their university of choice. That means they’ll be doing most of their research online (likely dozens of searches), with perhaps some word of mouth influence. So an advertising suite of digital ads, some radio and billboards is just a small part of the mix. Plan your campaign message to deliver integrated content at every step, from SEM to tailored landing pages with FAQ’s, live chat etc. Consider promoting mid year information nights. Anything that helps your prospects feel confident to make the commitment.
There is never a better time than now. And the bigger bonus is that each of the steps above will keep informing your entire marketing strategy. It’s all in the numbers!