Right message, right place, right time


Targeted messaging for Birmingham City University that delivers real change

Welcome to Birmingham City University

The biggest marketing budget doesn’t always have the greatest impact. To create change, we need to understand who our audience is. And to do that, we needed to use the right balance of data analysis, innovative thinking and precision targeting.

Take Birmingham City University (BCU); a vibrant institution at the heart of a busy, buzzing, rapidly transforming city. Their enviable location is a region packed with school-leavers so the last few years has seen a massive rise in competition.

Universities from the city and from across the country, with higher profiles and bigger budgets, have been targeting BCU’s core territory.

Winning over students

Competing for this sought-after pool of students – and pin pointing who was most likely to enroll at BCU, as well as targeting prospects further afield – meant understanding the market better than anyone else, and enacting institutional changes.

Our data scientists drew datasets from a range of national and BCU resources to build demographic profiles so accurate, we were able to target prospects by postcode.

Meanwhile, we used BCU’s applicant data, website analysis and sophisticated attribution modelling to map the application journeys of our target profiles. This gave us the insight we needed to understand which media were delivering real return on investment at which stages of an applicant’s journey.

Most importantly, it told us what kind of content and messaging was most likely to drive action or build brand awareness with the people BCU wanted, at which stage of the process.

So postcode-by-postcode, platform-by-platform and day-by-day, we could build a hugely agile, high-impact campaign to target BCU’s key audience profiles and outperform the competition.

The creative part

Along the way, we found that small refinements – like changing an image or colour on a single creative execution – made a big difference to performance. But only if you are alert and agile enough to react fast.

So while some of the simplest data can give you the ammunition to deliver the greatest value, the most complex part of a project like this is changing mindsets and adopting new behaviours. That’s why upskilling and empowering the Marketing team at BCU to deliver a joined-up, data-driven approach was just as important as profiling the prospects we wanted to attract.

Campaign creative

To launch the campaign we decided with BCU that Ambitious, Focused and Social were most appropriate to deliver a ‘corporate’ led message

Video content

To bring the wider concept to life we used cuts of existing footage to create a 30 second video ad to run on YouTube. This was also supplemented with a 10 second open day cut to run on Facebook.


There’s no question that the work we did has led to BCU being much more tuned in to what their audiences are interested in. And that, after all, is what campaign marketing is all about.

This campaign saw an increase in applications in its first year – and it continued to deliver in the following UG application cycle, with BCU’s applications and firm accepts up YOY, outperforming their competitor set.

  • 50% of open day registrations driven by digital media (up from 25%)
  • 50% decrease in cost per open day registration
  • 90% of paid digital traffic converted vs 39%of organic
  • 92% increase in paid for traffic to the website
  • 51% increase in traffic driven from CRM emails
  • 42% increase in average session duration
  • 32% increase in pages-per-session