Working in an agency that specialises in the education sector, much of my time is spent making recommendations that shape the marketing strategies for student recruitment throughout the year.
No matter the size, historical standing, or league table ranking of a university – you can now almost guarantee that Clearing and Adjustment will be a headline event.
With low birth-rates in the late ‘90s, compounded by increased tuition fees and an uncertain economic outlook, education as an industry has evolved into a highly commoditised and increasingly competitive marketplace. Add to that, a Clearing and Adjustment period that only exaggerates these challenges to their extremes, placing great stress on universities to secure the students they need, within a limited time period.
So, with the scene set, here are my Top 5 Tips for a successful, efficient, and (comparatively) stress-free Clearing and Adjustment campaign:
Get out early
Advertising during Clearing is expensive – no, really expensive.
Not only do ad inventory costs spike massively during the mid-August period as press and education media owners cash in, PPC costs-per-click also rise by as much as 500% on Results day itself.
So to avoid being totally reliant on Clearing period activity, get the University brand out there as early as late June or July.
This will help lay a solid foundation of awareness and opportunities for individuals to pre-register their interest.
Every Impression counts in the lead up to the main event and brand familiarity helps even limited recruitment budgets go further.
Give them something for nothing
With over 100 UK universities wanting the attention of a limited number of A Level students, how can your institution stand out from the crowd? Simple: give them something they can’t do without.
Millennial audiences hate feeling like they are “targeted” by advertising, but they do appreciate timely, useful content.
So, pair pre-Clearing campaigns with compelling offers like Clearing guides, cheat sheets, rich video content, or even advice sessions through live chat, Facebook Messenger or Live video with current students.
Basically, the stuff money can’t buy.
Remember who pays the bills
Appealing to prospective students is a given, but getting their parents on side goes a long way. But remember, parents have different priorities about university – safety, accommodation, employability will all be bigger factors for them than their kids.
Our experience has shown that parents respond really strongly to content promoted by HE organisations - sometimes more readily than the students themselves.
Get on side with the bank of mum and dad and you’re one step closer to securing the student.
Capture their data, capture them
Getting out in the market early and influencing is one thing, but translating that engagement into fee-paying students is another.
Bridge the gap by encouraging prospective students to share their information with you before Clearing begins.
Driving traffic to a simple email address capture form will give you enough data to remarket and re-engage with them again, but why not go further?
Ask what subjects they're interested in, their predicted grades, and offer to call them on results day streamlines the entire Clearing process for both the University and the student – win-win!
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
If there’s one form of advertising you just can’t do without during Clearing, it’s Paid Search.
For any unplaced students collecting their A Level results it’s a safe bet that, after celebrating on Instagram or commiserating with their parents, they will be turning to search engines to find course vacancies and Clearing hotlines.
Paid Search (PPC) is weapons-grade marketing on results day, and essential to ensure you have a significant share of voice out there.
Use it wisely by targeting keywords for the specific degrees or subject areas that need filling - and avoid being too broad or generic to maximise leads and ROI.
Factor in Click-to-Call functionality for a highly efficient and super mobile friendly way to turn panicked searchers into reassured offer holders with one simple button tap.
OK, it’s not really a tip, but useful to remember none the less.
All this sounds supremely logical and simple here in carefree June. But if you wait until the storm of clearing hits before taking action it’ll be too late.
Act now and start to use this staged strategy of prospecting and awareness, engagement, and lead generation, and you’ll be well on the way to achieving a highly successful, cost-efficient Clearing plan.