Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Bridging the gap between print and web

Back in October 2011 we sat down, cups of tea and flipchart paper at the ready, to work out what we wanted to achieve from the forthcoming 2013 Undergraduate Prospectus.

The marketing team headed by Adam (Bodger) was keen to build on the successes of undergraduate conversion or (in simple terms) bump up the amount of students that choose Chester and stick with us!

These successes had been built on improved efforts in relationship marketing with increased communication, interaction and engagement through a variation of direct mail, website and social networking.

But before Marc (Kneebone), sporting his graphics pen and notepad, could get creative with his Apple Mac, I was keen to see if we could bridge the gap between print and web.

This wasn’t just because I am sad geek, championing the website at every given opportunity, but also because printed materials can often only form part of the mission. For example, say a student picks up a leaflet or maybe takes a Prospectus at UCAS fair - what is it that we ultimately want them to do?

Maybe it’s to find out more information, or get in contact with someone, hey it may be just to simply know who you are and what you’re all about.

If it’s the latter you may think that all you require is killer content, punchy facts about the programme or department and some eye catching images, right? Well, yes… but you may want to consider what you want the individual to do after digesting this dazzling piece of marketing material. This is what us Marketers speak of as ‘Call to Action’, something that if any of you have ever had the pleasure of sitting in a meeting with either myself, Ric (Bengree) or Adam have witnessed us getting rather animated about.

What is a Call to Action, I hear you shout?

Well, a call to action is simply something on a print or web page that motivates or encourages a reader/user to do something.

Why are they useful, you may say?

They are excellent to keep individuals engaged (or as Adam would say ‘hot’), but also for measuring the success of a particular printed material.

With this in mind we agreed that we needed a campaign that:
  1. Engaged potential students
  2. Bridged the gap between print and web
  3. Something that was to go beyond the basic “for more information visit
  4. Maintained the marketing message of the University of You campaign
  5. Reduced the risk for potential applicants
  6. Was measurable

To achieve the aims of this campaign we firstly looked at what the core aims were in the 2012 undergraduate recruitment campaign titled the University of You campaign.

As part of the 2012 recruitment campaign, MRA have implemented a ‘University of You’ campaign, where we are putting the applicant at the centre of everything we do. With 2012 set to be the first year when students start to pay the higher tuition fees, applicants are likely to be looking closely of what they are getting in return for their investment. What can one university offer them that perhaps another can’t? We have implemented this theme throughout all our current marketing for 2012, remembering that applicants decisions are made on an entirely self-referenced basis:
  • how does this affect me?
  • what do I get out of this?
So we are trying to keep our messages very personal and have an ‘all about you’ approach.

The Concept

The agreed concept was to promote the benefits of the University of Chester, through current students rather than any marketing spin. This, in essence would enable the potential student to hear about real experiences ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’.


To execute this concept we planned the prospectus to have miniature profiles with each individual student's quote about their programme, student life, opportunities whilst here as well as much more.

The student profiles were to span throughout the prospectus, but each profile in the prospectus would direct readers to an area of the website with more information about the student.

Now at this point, it would have been easy to ask for some content from a department (one of you guys) and create a page on the website, but that would have firstly increased the bounce rate of the website (visitors landing on our website and jumping straight off it), but also not fully satisfy the overall aims of the campaign. So this is what we did…

Contacted each student and organised for them to be involved firstly in a photo-shoot and then a one to one video interview. Now you can imagine the prospect of getting a substantial number of students to firstly commit to a photo-shoot and then a video interview as being slim to none, but if you know me I don’t take no as an answer.

Anyway, we organised it (well, I did), shot it (well, Marc did) and edited it and it was ready for the web. Both Annabelle (Davies) and Lee (Bennett) did a sterling job teasing out the best answers and trimming down an hour long video for each student into an entertaining 1 to 2 minutes clip.

Next up, me and Marc sat down and laid out what we wanted from the website in terms of design and content. We agreed a design that focused on presenting information in a visually engaging way, bringing together style cues from the prospectus, with splashes of fresh colours and fonts as well as some funky wallpaper courtesy of (Ian) White’s Dining rooms.

Also, to complement the content in each video we created a miniature fact file and image gallery for each student, as created by Angela (Evans). This gave each profile a good basis of information about the student, and we felt it was more likely to engage our target audience than having bags of text.


So, after the web pages were designed and built, you might think, 'job done', but we had one final box to tick, and probably one of the most important.

As the title suggests, we had to put our heads together and agree how to measure the success of this campaign. Of course this was done prior to the design phase, but I didn’t have enough room to fit it in up there (odds on I’m not going to be submitted for the Booker Prize for literature).

Any way back to the story, we agreed that we could measure the success of this campaign through clear calls to action. Firstly, each student profile on the website would have a bespoke URL (web address) set up, which would track visitors who had got the URL from the 2013 prospectus.

In addition both Shai and Adam were keen and a little giddy about the power of using QR codes.

QR codes work in the following way, first point your phone (has to be a smart one, so your Granddad’s Binatone isn’t going to cut it) at a printed page. Take a picture. Get taken to a website. It is that simple, and from a user’s point a view, very cool.

With the QR Code set up Shai (Vure) ensured that we could track these smartphone visitors from the prospectus to the website. All in all with tracking set up for direct visitors via the prospectus URL’s and QR codes we could measure the success of bridging the gap between print and web.


I believe this campaign really adds value to both print and web, whilst also emphasising the key messages of the original University of You campaign. Hopefully this has given you an insight into how a fully planned marketing campaign can be set up, delivered and measured.

Check out the finished campaign website - Meet the Students

With myself and Marc heading up Marketing communications whilst Sarah (Steele) is away with newly born baby Henry, we hope to bring you more on marketing communications, as well as any interesting snippets along the way.

This is the first of a fresh and constant Blog from Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions – so watch this space for more posts in the near future.



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