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Birkbeck – USA Campaign

The Purpose – To drive international postgraduate applications to study at Birkbeck University of London, commencing Autumn 2020.

Campaign Overview

What was the purpose of the campaign?

To drive international postgraduate applications to study at Birkbeck University of London, commencing Autumn 2020. The campaign’s core aims were to build target audience awareness of a Virtual Open Evening (September 2020) and encourage direct response applications.

Who was our target audience?

Prospective postgraduate students aged 21 – 30 living in the US – with a specific focus on New York, Washington D.C., Florida and California.

What is the product / service we are advertising?     

Postgraduate courses at Birkbeck, University of London. Students could start their first term online and travel once able to get a VISA.

KPI / Campaign Target    

20 enrolled students.


The campaign ran from 7th August 2020 until 30th September 2020, across a range of channels. When planning, we made sure to focus on promoting the right message, in the right place, at the right time. Our media channel selection worked together to drive awareness, generate interest, and trigger response from our target audience.

Facebook & Instagram

To build awareness and drive applications, we recommended paid activity on Facebook and Instagram. These are our two most successful paid social channels which have continued to drive extremely effective results with significant conversion volumes. Paid Social enabled us to target very specific defined audiences at scale, driving reach and frequency whilst also generating high engagement levels and cost-effective responses.

The format we chose for this campaign was video. Video provides a solid way to connect and engage with audiences, particularly as part of an upper funnel targeting strategy. We combined audience data with our creative strategy to ensure our videos would reach our target audience in the optimal context, to ensure a relevant and seamless user experience.

Online Portals

Higher education online portals have the great advantage of high organic search rankings, due to providing students with trusted and highly engaged relevant content and lead-gen opportunities. The portals receive high traffic levels from in-market prospective PG students and offer various forms of inventory that are ideal for raising awareness and driving response. We partnered with StudyPortals, Postgrad.com and Prospects to engage the target audience through geo-targeted impression banners, targeted emails and homepage features.


Following the typical illustration style associated with the Birkbeck brand, we created a visual that showcased London’s key attractions to establish location and appeal to an international audience. The campaign messaging emphasised Birkbeck’s unique selling point of being London’s evening university, through explaining how this offering allows students to explore London during the day – an attractive message to the American audience. We also made sure Birkbeck’s globally recognised prestigious ‘University of London’ accreditation was included.

Facebook example

HE Portal banners example

HE Portal email example

Campaign Performance & Results

Over the duration of the campaign, Birkbeck made 43 Unconditional Offers to students from the USA, resulting in 27 enrolments. The campaign therefore exceeded the target of 20 enrolments by 35%. This contributed to 23% year-on-year increase in Birkbeck’s total new enrolments from the USA (+16 additional enrolments).

The campaign exceeded the predicted performance statistics across most channels, demonstrating an effective combination of messaging and targeting.

Results by Channel Breakdown

Social – Facebook & Instagram

Through Facebook and Instagram, the target audience engaged well proven by a CTR of 1.14% – 90% higher than the campaign’s predicted CTR of 0.60%. The social campaign delivered a total of 65 conversions from 7,103 clicks. These consisted of 29 Postgraduate ‘Apply’ clicks, 20 Undergraduate ‘Apply’ clicks (through UCAS), six email link clicks, seven prospectus requests and 3 phone number clicks.

Higher Education Portals:


The StudyPortals email campaign received 933 unique opens with a unique open rate of 15.87%. This exceeded StudyPortals average open rate of 10.35%. From the 933 unique opens, 76 clicks were received, resulting in a click-to-open rate of 5.04%.


The Postgrad.com email campaign received an open rate of 13.98% and a click to open rate of 26.06%. These results far exceeded Postgrad.com’s benchmark figures. The homepage banner received double the impressions and clicks predicted and a 0.05% CTR; slightly higher than their 0.04% CTR benchmark.



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