In higher education terms, the University of Suffolk is a fairly new institution. Although already a successful widening participation institution, like many universities there was a desire to increase the number of new students from widening participation backgrounds.

The marketing team had identified that with the right data they could understand what was holding people back from considering higher education and create strategic, personalised and targeted marketing campaigns to recruit more students from diverse backgrounds.

University of  Suffolk chose to work with Net Natives, due to their extensive experience in both widening participation marketing and knowledge of the Higher Education sector. The agreed approach included raising student aspirations, educating them about the financial support available, before capturing their details to send them more personalised support and advice.

Raising aspirations

To do this, the University needed to understand why, historically in Suffolk, participation rates in higher education have been well below the national average. What was stopping potential students considering higher education at Suffolk?

By examining student search patterns and student behaviours online in low participation regions, Net Natives proposed a strategy that was designed to reach the target audience of students and parents in specific areas with relevant and engaging messages.

Net Natives then delivered a campaign that engaged with the target demographic in specific low participation postcodes.  Using a mix of Google Display ads, Google Search ads, Facebook Newsfeed Video and Link Post Content and Facebook Carousel Adverts to increase awareness and drive young people through to the landing page (built using Net Natives’ proprietary marketing technology, Akero). This landing page captured not only the data of prospective students but asked important questions about the biggest obstacle faced when considering applying to university, and what would make university more accessible.

Using the results, Net Natives optimised the advertising copy to better address these concerns and challenges with relevant messaging and ultimately improve the performance of the campaign.

Exceeding expectations

The campaign was a big success and exceeded the University’s expectations. Beyond that, the long-term value of the data that was captured allowed the University to better understand the barriers to higher education and will support their future plans to make Higher Education more accessible, and also contribute to the national initiative.

"Thanks to Net Natives we are now able to better target our WP applicants, have enquiries from previously unknown students and can inform both the local and national initiative to increase access to university for people from all backgrounds. A huge return on investment." - University of Suffolk

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Article by

Rich Campbell

Head of Marketing