Discovering your crowd


Helping Solent University to understand their target audience

Who are we talking to?

Audience understanding is crucial to the success of any university looking to increase quality and grow. We have worked with Solent University for a number of years on their brand, marketing and recruitment objectives, all of which are built upon a desire to become a first choice institution that really understands their prospective and current audiences. Previously, they were targeting broader areas and age ranges, meaning their campaigns weren’t getting the results they expected. In an already crowded market, Solent needed to stand out from their competitors, and they needed to do it fast.

We undertook a detailed analysis of their institutional cohort data over a number of years. This enabled us to understand where their most valuable audience were that were most likely to convert. We were able to implement this targeting across campaign and student recruitment activity. The modelling was updated in 2019 and we also ran a separate piece of modelling for Clearing that year.

Creating the perfect strategy

Using propensity-based insight to inform campaign strategy enabled us to drive better quality and more engaged traffic to the Solent site as well as increasing campaign performance year on year significantly.

But we weren’t done just yet.

In 2020, Solent worked with dataHE to create zone targeting. Once analysed, we were able to enrich this data, layering our propensity modelling in along with tariff and subject areas, forecast until 2023 entry. This gave us 3 distinct groups for each cohort up to 2023 – standard, growth and protect.

This strategy has been implemented university wide and has enabled Solent to focus their efforts on areas, schools and prospective students they know are more likely to convert.

Did it work?

Our strategy included a focus on 132 postcode areas where we had seen higher levels of conversion from the data, or where we had identified a strong penetration of Solent’s audience who were more likely to convert to a competitor, so an opportunity to grow market share.

In 2019 this work contributed towards a lift in applications and firm acceptances from these postcodes by 16% and 17% respectively, year-on-year, proving that highly targeted activity will drive more quality leads into the funnel and deliver an improved ROI.

What it helped us discover

Our 2020 entry campaign built on this success with a 285% year-on-year increase in traffic from paid activity. Engagement with our advertising doubled, and we achieved a 452% increase in conversions, with a hugely successful Clearing campaign supporting enrolments finishing 9% over target.

But it hasn’t stopped. We’re still working on this approach throughout 2021, and beyond.

We’ve seen impressive results and early indicators show a growth in applications in subject areas we’ve implemented this work for.