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Leading Edge, A Podcast by Henley Business School

One of the biggest challenges for business leaders is how to inspire. The need for leadership support drove Henley’s Podcast series and resulted in phenomenal engagement.

The Challenge

The way we are doing business is changing faster than ever and we needed to find innovative ways to show our audience how we are the ‘go to’ solution for tackling the leadership challenges of 2020 and beyond.

Our target audience was a combination of C-Suite, aspiring leaders and influencers to the board such as HR Directors.

The big challenge we identified was that the executive education sector is already flooded with competitors all trying to do the same thing. As an organisation, we wanted to stand out and lead in this sector.

 

Objectives

The objective for this campaign was to raise awareness for Executive Education using the greatest asset available – our people – to showcase the innovative research, practices and methodology we have in leadership and management.

Success would be measured in the following ways:

  • A 50% increase in year-on-year organic traffic to the website compared to the 60,221 visits for the same period in 2019
  • Through social media and content engagement – an initial target of 2,000 downloads was set as it was a completely new initiative

The overall budget for the campaign was a £25,000.

How we did it

We brought together stakeholder groups to brainstorm our faculty research outputs and curriculum methodology. We considered how we could frame these to bring them to life, create the biggest impact and be highly relevant to our audience. Research (source: RAJAR) showed considerable increase in ‘C-Suite’ consumption of podcasts – the medium is ideal for providing high-profile thought leadership information and delivering it efficiently during commutes and leisure time.

For our podcasts to be engaging, any leadership topics would need to tap into trending issues and offer fresh and interesting angles. To maximise audience size and ensure our series was enjoyable, thought-provoking listening, we knew we’d need specialist talent from an experienced broadcaster. As a result, we recruited BBC business journalist Thomas Mason to host Leading Edge.

 

 

During planning, COVID hit and in fact delivered us an opportunity. Lockdown would mean more time at home and more time contemplating the changes leaders needed to make to their businesses. The promotional channels that we chose and teaser content we deployed reflected the growing trend large brands were adopting to provide innovative content for free.

We ran intelligent and intriguing digital creative in programmatic, remarketing and social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter). As well as presenter led programmatic audio teasers across Acast on their News & Politics sections. All supported by email marketing to harvest interest and PPC activity to support SEA.

Results

The campaign surpassed its primary objective of raising awareness for Executive Education. Year-on-year traffic to the main Henley Business School website increased by 65% against the target of 50% (60,221 in 2019 vs 99,617 for the same period in 2020) and 80.7% of the visits to the website during this time period were new. By the end of Series 1 there had been 11,125 visits to the Leading Edge specific landing page – which, for a ‘C-Suite’ audience, is remarkable.

Since the podcast launched it’s had a total of 8,222 downloads across the 10 episodes, which puts it in the top 10% of new podcasts and massively over our predicted engagement number of 2,000. Henley also played up to its global credentials, reaching listeners in every continent. All ratings on iTunes have been 5*.

 

 

The campaign also gave us a much better understanding of our audience, what interests them and what content works well, which we have fed into Series 2. Not only did Leading Edge reflect the quality of Henley externally, but it was well received by senior stakeholders internally, helping to ensure we had high-profile academics lined up for the second series. We are also planning a one-off post COVID special. Although this was an Executive Education campaign, it was utilised across the organisation for wider brand awareness. Subject matter continues to excite and engage our audience and Leading Edge is now a critical pillar of our brand activity with its own visual identity.

How we leveraged social media

Throughout the campaign we utilised as many social techniques as possible to engage our audience in the platforms they use when working (LinkedIn) and in their down time (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). The best platforms for engagement were Twitter and LinkedIn, which matches our previous campaigns aimed at business decision makers.

The podcasts themselves were rich pieces of content with a long lifespan on the new Leading Edge channel we created. But they became the source of much more: off the back of each episode, we developed articles for use in email and long-form LinkedIn posts which smashed platform averages with 4.17% engagement vs 0.9% industry average.

We filmed the recording sessions and produced short ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘series taster’ videos, which we showcased across all our social platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook) and were seen 336,211 times in the three weeks they were promoted.

Each episode’s audiogram was successfully promoted on Twitter, with a 45.7% CTR exceeding our KPI for the channel of 10%. LinkedIn was utilised to grow ‘look-a-like’ audiences, building out from our core.

 

 

ROI

It’s well known that results from brand activity are gained over the long term…

…however, we saw an almost immediate return. Following the campaign, we launched two new online programmes – Board Directors’ and High Performance Leadership, run by Leading Edge academics. The podcast content was used to support lead generation activity. 609 registered for the three introductory webinars and we went on to exceed targets. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

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