Our marketing team is currently running international campaigns to attract students from abroad to come to Dundee to study. It’s a large project, with worldwide reach. Director of Marketing and Communications, Rebecca Trengove, tells us about it.
Why are we running international campaigns?
Imagine asking someone to buy a house in a city they’ve never heard of and without going to view it. Increasingly over the last couple of years we have run lead generation campaigns focused on particular subjects in specific countries. These seek to attract potential students by engaging them enough to give us their contact details. However, we know from international student surveys, from feedback from our own students and from our staff who travel to overseas markets that
- location is an important factor in applicants’ decisions on where to study and
- most prospective applicants have not heard of Dundee and don’t know where it is.
We operate in an increasingly competitive market place where our competitors have been active in brand building for several years. So we need to fill in the blanks and create a visual and mental picture of our city and university to help potential buyers feel more confident about that house purchase.
We want to raise positive awareness of Dundee, the city and the University, among specific target audiences (prospective students and parents) in our top target international markets so that:
- when our staff are talking to potential applicants in their country (including at the various forthcoming Academics Abroad events) there is already some brand recognition of Dundee;
- we support our agents and help them make Dundee an easier sell;
- when the next round of our lead generation campaigns start they are landing on a warm audience. These lead generation campaigns will focus on specific courses within individual Schools and are a key element of our School-based marketing activities.
We are focusing our efforts on China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and specifically on the cities that will be the focus of Academics Abroad activities. We are targeting both UG and PG potential students.
Over the last few months we have developed a new campaign theme, “Discover Dundee”, which we started using at Clearing earlier in 2018. For the international version of this campaign we are unashamedly leading with a destination sell and you will therefore see strong images of the city on many of our campaign visuals. These will be followed by images of our current students, showing the diversity of our student body.
The text uses some of our key overall University selling points, e.g.
- “A university that turns leaving home into coming home”,
- “A university that’s small enough to know everyone, big enough to broaden your horizons” and
- “A university where student satisfaction is evident in faces as well as rankings”.
In some markets, e.g. Malaysia, Singapore and India, we are also using the “Education is GREAT” logo as British higher education is highly thought of there and this reinforces that Dundee is in the UK.
Much of our activity will be digital as that is where much of our audience is. In China this includes active management of our Weibo and WeChat accounts as well as ads on both platforms and search engine management (Baidu and 360). In other markets we’ll be using a variety of digital options. These include ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, YouTube pre-roll (the short ads you see before something else) and programmatic display advertising (where computer algorithms work out who to show ads to and on which websites to place them, using a ‘whitelist’ of websites so that we don’t appear anywhere we’d rather not).
However, it isn’t all digital. Past experience in Nigeria has shown radio advertising to be effective so we will repeat that and also trial it in the Middle East. In Malaysia we are trialling outdoor advertising in one of the main stations and the most-visited mall as both get significant traffic from our target demographics, plus billboards near international schools that we’re targeting. And in all markets we will do a limited amount of press advertising.
We also want to support our marketing activity with press coverage. To help achieve this we’ve aligned our media officers with our target markets so they build both understanding of what stories work in those markets and local media contacts. Some media coverage will be paid for and some earned – see recent examples of each from Malaysia and Nigeria. To make this work we will need a steady stream of stories featuring the University but relevant to that market – this includes research stories.
Finally some of this additional advertising will be joint with key agents. Our agents are increasingly important to our international recruitment and we want to support those who are doing particularly well.
Setting up campaigns like this requires a huge amount of work from many people to:
- develop and confirm the right messages for each market and each audience (whether that’s University/subject rankings, the personal experience students have at Dundee or the employability of our graduates)
- research and negotiate contracts with suitable media and digital agencies in the various markets, brief them effectively and then manage those relationships
- write appropriate copy for press articles, print adverts and digital platforms
- ensure we have very strong photography that can work well across multiple platforms
- design artwork that is consistent with our brand but also works in different markets, and then to develop that for different platforms, and to multiple dimensions
- gain insight and market intelligence from the regional recruitment team
- seek feedback from agents and current international students on messages, copy and artwork to ensure they work for the target audience
- work with our alumni team to collect and use alumni stories and testimonials
- plan how we will evaluate the success of the campaigns
- monitor and adjust digital campaigns as they roll out
- measure our own digital channels (web and social media).
The campaigns have been developed, coordinated and implemented by our international marketing managers (Jen Sloan and Daisy Du– China, Linda O’Neill – Singapore and Malaysia, Louise Connor – South Asia, Mhari MacDonald – Middle East and Africa) but as you can see from the variety of activities above this is very much an example of One Dundee in action. In particular our design team have worked very hard with the marketing managers against extremely tight deadlines to finalise the initial artwork.
How will we measure success?
Ultimately the successful outcome of these campaigns will be increases in applications from those markets. However, given that university application can be a two-year buying cycle, in the interim we will be monitoring a range of outputs, including increase in web traffic (we can be very geographically precise), audience reach, growth in social media followers and the % increase in take-up of subsequent lead generation campaigns. That data will help us refine our activities over the next year.
How can you help?
Most campaign materials will include the hashtag #DiscoverDundee. For any social media you do, whether personal or professional, that features the University, the city or life in Dundee, please use #discoverdundee. This will help build more of the content we would like to showcase across the campaign.
Please also tell us about any academic activity (research, teaching, partnership) taking place in those markets so we can try to generate some press coverage.