How to build a next-generation marketing function


Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University (BCU) had a whole range of challenges. Competition from local universities for students across their region was fierce. Plus, institutions from further afield were trying to muscle in on their patch. If they were to get ahead, they needed a plan. Not to mention a more joined up marketing strategy based on a thorough understanding of what was currently working for them and what wasn’t at all.

They had clear aims

  • To become more integrated – From their teams and their data to their insight and their marketing comms. Everything needed to become tighter, more cohesive and much more collaborative.
  • To become more efficient – With better processes and systems, he ability to better calculate and model spend and really start to understand how to track applications.
  • To diversify and reduce risk – To stop being so reliant on their core Birmingham audience for their student intake, widen the net and attract other suitable applicants.

We had a solid plan

  • We got them thinking differently about data – Working closely with BCU’s internal stakeholders we accessed information from different systems and brought it all together. helping them to understand their applicant data throughout the student journey.
  • We introduced attribution modelling – How we can assign impact to advertising channels and the difference and benefits between last-click attribution and first-click.
  • We helped with their creative messaging – Identifying what made them unique, special and different. What made them stand-out.
  • We performed website analysis – To ascertain access, ease and various user journey routes.
  • We helped with brand perception and tracking – From the micro-scale of specific campaigns and awareness to research, the impact of out-of-home advertising and the correlation to click-through rates.
  • We suggested value-added content – To encourage engagement and provide an incentive to sign-up.

Think big. Act small. Spend less.

By being strategic, identifying demographic profiles and targeting by postcode, we pinpointed where BCU could find students, which massively helped them to reduce their marketing spend. We also used intelligent data to advise what channels worked at what stage of the journey and what message to say in each place at each time. Data integration informed everything, across the board. It helped things to work in tandem, be more targeted and as a result, this increased application numbers.