From clearing to graduation: 5 ways to inspire your students

Ben Leeves By Ben Leeves

If you were lucky enough to be at ContentEd, you'd have taken away a wealth of tips for your marketing and comms strategies. But if you weren’t able to be there, don’t worry – because I’ve rounded up the top 5 insights which you can put into action.

Rethink your student recruitment challenges

For many education establishments, the campus visit is key to convincing a student to enrol. Again and again, the people I met at ContentEd18 said their enrolment challenges would be solved if they could only get more potential students on campus.

The secret, as Michael Green of Texas A&M University explained, is embracing this challenge. Rather than flying everyone to Texas, they found a way to bring the campus to everyone, without spending thousands of dollars doing it. How? By using 360 VR video.

Perhaps you’re in fundraising and development, and demonstrating your institution’s impact is your goal, rather than recruitment? If so, take a look at how Mike and his team took VR further, in a 24 hour campaign for SXSW festival.

Make the most of clearing

Clearing is fast approaching, and was a hot topic at ContentEd, because many universities struggle to find the sheer number of volunteers required to answer their clearing hotlines.

That’s why Charlotte Renwick’s team at Leeds Beckett University turned the challenge on its head by using a chatbot called ‘Becky’ to answer queries. In 2017, Becky even offered her first university place to a prospective student. Impressive!

Don’t underestimate the student journey

Outside of academia, the customer journey is vital – something we spend a great deal of time on for our charity clients.

It’s nigh time we put the student at the centre of their own ‘customer journey’ and realise that every touchpoint matters. None more so than the very first step – the moment they get ‘in’ to University.

The #HelloBrookes campaign, created by Dana Rock’s team at Oxford Brookes University, is must-see inspiration. They used hyper personalisation on a tiny budget to dramatically increase student engagement from day 1.

Within four days, Oxford Brookes had over 50,000 video views and 4.5 million impressions on Twitter and Instagram. Could you do the same?

Embrace student-led content

One message came across again and again at ContentEd: put your students at the centre of your comms.

Ask them to share what they do outside of their studies. Short video clips of life of their love for the arts, music, sports and nightlife is gold. Share it socially – and highlight the benefits of studying at your university to prospective applicants.

You’ll notice the impact when it comes to attracting overseas students. Many potential applicants have concerns about the challenges of moving abroad – don’t underestimate how important life outside of studies is. So let your students sell your location!

Ask for your students’ help on your social channels. Request polite, informative, short and genuine content. What did they feel when they chose you? You’ll get better endorsement than you could ever create yourself.

Intruiged? Take a look at the University of Lincoln’s success story – and how their YouTube channel saw an increase of 957% in video views and a 1,370% increase in watch time last year.

Celebrate graduation

Gifs have been a mainstay of internet humour for years. But now brands are beginning to use Giphy’s stickers to increase their brand awareness and engagement. I loved hearing from Harvard’s Mike Petroff as he explained how they’re using stickers to celebrate graduations – you can check them out here.

So what are you waiting for? Get your graphics ready for students and family to use when congratulating their loved ones on the big day!


I hope you’re as inspired by these ideas as I am – and that they’ll tempt you to explore a new way of doing things. I’m certainly looking forward to helping our clients execute forward thinking campaigns for every part of their student journeys next academic year.

Let me know how you get on!

Ben Leeves

Ben Leeves

Co-founder & Senior Partner

One of the co-founders of Consider, Ben is our digital media adventurer. He's always on top of the latest digital advancements in creative and has been behind a fair few of them himself. He’s been one step ahead for the last 20 years. The latest digital insights from Ben are on our blog.