Sector and audience insight


By Ed Layt

Over the past two weeks SMRS have been part of two sector conferences, Universities UK’s ‘Using digital innovation to enhance university marketing and communications’ and The Knowledge Partnership’s ‘University market insight conference 2016’.

The Knowledge Partnership event highlighted the growing importance in the link between insight and marketing teams and the Universities UK event reinforced the need for good data and audience understanding to deliver impactful digital communications. There was also an interesting theme around the fact that everything we do has some form of digital element – and therefore should we now be focusing on content as a whole, rather than digital in isolation (something that our work around content strategy reinforces).

At both events we presented to delegates about the undergraduate student journey and some of the key findings from our R&D research. If you have not seen the research before, or want to refresh your memory, have a read here.

In the spirit of the R&D research, we brought together a student panel at the UUK conference, to enable delegates to ask students direct questions about their applicant journey, preferences, experiences and their thoughts on digital communications.

Some key points that delegates took away included:

-The importance of open days and particularly the need for good engaging speakers. Examples were given around experiences of poor presenters, and the real impact it had on applicant’s choice.

-The most impactful digital tactics for engaging prospective students included email and video. A preference for SMS also came out strongly, because of it’s immediate and succinct nature.

-There were positive comments around personalised web portals – particularly in the post-application stage. However, usernames/passwords made access restrictive and if applicants were not alerted to content updates, our panel was less likely to engage and fell out of love with them pretty quickly.

We’ve run a number of live R&D student panel sessions over the last year, all of which have provided useful advise and implementable actions for universities. You can check out some videos of the session we ran at the CASE annual conference in 2015 on the links below:

1. Open Days

2. Location, accommodation and websites

3. Tuition Fees

4. Social Media

5. Market Value of Degree

6. University CRM

7. Parents’ role