Find the who, what, why and how


By Jon Kirk

Edge Hill University like to make their student recruitment marketing as personal as possible. However, they felt that they were lacking the insight to enable them to do this effectively. They acknowledged that every student is different, and is attracted to different things, so individual communications are important. They were prepared to change their approach by working with a partner to develop their knowledge of what their students’ needs are during their journey to enrolment.

We proposed developing a set of personas that truly represented the different types of people applying and studying at Edge Hill. From these, we could understand how and when to target audiences, what content will resonate with them and ultimately, make all of their comms more audience-focused. We started by surveying their current undergraduates, and asked questions about their motivations, interests, needs and so much more.

When we create personas, we base segmentation on emotional needs compared to geographical or demographic. It provides a more realistic and personal segment. The segments we discovered helped us to create distinct persona profiles, with descriptions detailing their channel and communication preferences. We listed their motivations, their attitudes and their influences, and added a timeline that highlighted how the different personas preferred to be communicated with, and what information they wanted throughout each section of their journey to enrolment. The outcome was five separate cluster groups, but our client felt that they could communicate more effectively with three, so we identified similarities using a different model to develop three alternative macro personas. Each persona equated to roughly a third of Edge Hill’s undergraduates and represented them well. In-depth descriptions detailing habits, motivations, channels and communication preferences were written, covering every question that could be asked.

Most importantly, the personas are actionable, and Edge Hill are now working to use them to their full potential, ranging from advising the look and feel of the website to creating more personalised comms to attract each of the persona groups. Our recommendations for Edge Hill University may also change the way they hold their open days, the way they speak to their students, and most of all, to attract the right people to their perfect university.