Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Adding Value for our Applicants - Newsletters 2014

The January - May decision making period (or Stage Two as we like to call it) of the Undergraduate recruitment cycle is of crucial importance to us all. At this time, an applicant will have applied to up to five institutions, each with their own marketing and recruitment teams doing their best to demonstrate why their university is the right choice for them.

In addition to our Applicant Days, Prospectus, Website, Social Media and other literature, how else can we show an applicant the benefits of studying with us, in a meaningful, tangible way? This is why we created our series of applicant email newsletters, which began in 2012 and have gathered momentum through 2013 and 2014.

The idea is really simple. We get in touch with each subject area and ask them to send us four stories that demonstrate to an applicant what it's really like to study on the course. We're not looking for glossy marketing copy, statistics or buzzwords, just an honest reflection of what a student can expect from the course. Examples we've seen that work really well are:

  • Field visits
  • Graduate profiles
  • Work experience placements
  • Guest speakers
  • Conferences
  • Awards / other success stories
  • Staff profiles
  • Building projects / new facilities
  • Links to social networks

Real life examples like these can give an applicant a good idea of what it's like to study your course, beyond the more general information they can find on the website or in the prospectus. This could well be the differentiating factor between them choosing your course or going elsewhere. The newsletters are highly visual, so any photos, graphics or videos you can provide are very much appreciated. 

> You can read all of the newsletters from the 2014 campaign in our online archive.

Other interesting facts about the email newsletters:

  • Through data provided by our email provider, Mailchimp, we know that 80% of our applicants read emails on a mobile device, so we design them with accessibility in mind. This includes using responsive layouts, images that scale for mobile devices and high resolution displays, and clear calls to action and buttons.

  • For the first time this year, we shared each subject newsletter on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Using trackable links, we were able to see that for every person that received and read the email, another two read it on social networks. This is a great opportunity to tell a wider audience about the exciting work that our academic departments are doing.

  • Using advanced reporting capabilities, we can see which applicants opened your email, how many times and which stories they were most interested in. This is an opportunity to send some follow up information to your most engaged applicants, or see which sorts of stories they tend to be most interested in to refine your next newsletter.

We were really pleased with the response to the newsletter campaign this year, and would love to see even more contributions going forward. If you would like more information about how your subject newsletter performed this year, or are interested in sending any follow up stories to your applicants, just get in touch with me.

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