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University of Exeter: Attracting the Elite

A world-class Scholarship campaign using clever segmentation and targeting to attract academic achievers from across the globe.

The Start

The University of Exeter Business School does not struggle to attract students to its Economics, Finance, Accountancy and Management postgraduate courses. It came to Hunterlodge with a different problem: the university’s recruitment of a disproportionate number of students from China (41% of all its postgraduate students) was affecting the perceived diversity of the university, and potentially threatening further international recruitment.

The university’s ultimate goal was to attract the top 1% of students globally, reaching them through a World Class Scholarship campaign. Quality, not necessarily quantity, was key.

The Middle

Through segmentation analysis of postgraduate students, we identified our target market as ‘academic achievers’ – focused, confident leaders and perfectionists with a high moral compass, who don’t leave things to the last minute.

Our campaign strategy was therefore based around the theme: ‘Not for everyone; only the very best should apply’. We wanted to use a question or puzzle as a way of engaging and self-selecting the very best students. Tailored quizzes further segmented the audience into different subject areas – Accounting, Economics, Management, etc. Only those who successfully answered the questions could access the dedicated scholarship site, get more information and apply.

The End

All of the campaign was online, which allowed us to manage budget, be sustainable, have a global reach and gather data for measurement and evaluation. The campaign was highly targeted, to avoid wastage, and key media selections were based on the decision-making path (targeting those who had already decided to study at postgraduate level in the UK), course, target country, frequency, timing and budget.

We ran MPUs and leaderboards on The Economist and Hotcourses.com, and sent a targeted email to UK students who had expressed an interest in the competitor set or UK postgraduate study along with relevant targeting options on LinkedIn and Orkut, a Google-owned Indian social networking site aimed at students.

The Results

Conversion tracking codes and funnels were used to track the journey of those who requested an application form, which enabled us to provide detailed information broken down by course applied for, source of traffic and country of origin. The LinkedIn element of the plan massively exceeded our performance expectations, so we developed our creative further to include polls and rich media MPUs.

The campaign was hugely successful, generating 2,427 referrals onto the course-specific landing pages. In terms of goal completion established at the outset (defined as someone who has answered the question correctly and gone on to request an application form), there was a total of 410 requests.



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