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University College Birmingham's participation in Review Collection

Discover how University College Birmingham's involvement in Review Collection and WUSCA has helped their marketing strategies and elevated their reputation.  

From tailoring messages to engaging key stakeholders, learn how they harnessed their success to attract suitable students. Explore their insights on the importance of participating in Review Collection and the fundamental role of listening to student feedback to better the student experience. 

The importance of UK institutions participating in review collection

How important would you say it is for UK institutions to participate in review collection to enhance their reputation and appeal to prospective students? 

For universities like ours, which place a paramount focus on students, the Whatuni Student Choice Awards align with our core values and messages. We wholeheartedly recommend participating, as even if you don't secure a win, it serves as a valuable benchmarking tool and offers some important insights that can contribute to improvements. We have already utilised student insights gathered during the review collection to provide internal feedback to our staff, thereby enhancing our student experience. 

The ability to capture student feedback and sentiment on their university experience is fundamental in delivering a strong student experience, which starts before students even arrive. The Whatuni reviews, which underpin the Whatuni Student Choice Awards, do this across all elements of the student journey and really drill down to what matters to students. What matters to students is what matters to us. 

How did these accolades impact your clearing campaign strategy choices, and what was their effect on your clearing campaign?

University College Birmingham received the fantastic University of the Year award at WUSCA 2022, in addition to the Students Support award, and was also shortlisted in several categories. How did these accolades impact your clearing campaign strategy choices, and what was their effect on your clearing campaign? 

Firstly, in terms of marketing, as expected, the most significant visual impact came from our utilisation of the Whatuni Student Choice Awards. In 2022, we secured the University of the Year and Student Support awards, which we prominently featured in our university video. We leveraged these awards to convey key messages to our target audiences. 

To lead our clearing campaign, we crafted the message "UK's best university, as voted by students," substantiated by WUSCA logos. We also employed the message "Best student support, as voted by students," tailoring it based on media and the stage of the student journey. While it's challenging to attribute enrolment increases solely to messaging, we observed a significant surge in acceptances when we targeted applicants with the award related message.

Harnessing WUSCA results for engaging stakeholders and bolstering UCB's reputation

Could you provide specific examples of how WUSCA awards contributed to enhancements in your marketing efforts and how you harnessed your WUSCA results to engage stakeholders and bolster UCB's reputation? 

In the immediate aftermath of this year's success, we placed a strong focus on PR and public awareness. We collaborated with the Express and Star and the Shropshire Star, two of the most widely read regional publications, for a feature and a subsequent radio interview.  

Our communication efforts extended to when we awarded the WUSCA bursaries and when we were shortlisted in nine categories the following year. We received recognition from the Mayor, local MPs, and significant engagement on social media. In a more comprehensive use of the Whatuni Choice Reviews and Awards, we aimed to identify who else influences our prospective students. For our university, one of the most crucial messages that resonates both internally and externally among staff, students, and our broader community is a sense of belonging. Thus, we considered our community as a key stakeholder. Being located in the heart of Birmingham, we reached out to key policy and public influencers within the region to ensure they were aware of a university in their city that had achieved notable success through Whatuni Student Choice Awards reviews and feedback. 

We incorporated these awards not only into our marketing materials but also in our printed assets, including calls to action. This allowed us to tailor messages like "Come and discover why we've been voted University of the Year" while highlighting our regional significance in the West Midlands. By doing so, we effectively elevated our presence in the region. 

In our programmatic advertising efforts, we concentrated on identifying which award categories would resonate most effectively with our intended audience. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to the University of the Year award, we obtained insights into students' sentiments at pivotal times of the year, such as clearing, and utilised the student support category accordingly. 

We launched a 'Still to choose' eshot, and an impressive 58% of those who opened it accepted their offer. 

In terms of our campus, we prominently displayed qualitative reviews in key areas where we engaged employers and key partners. This messaging extended to various parts of the campus, and it even influenced our brand and visual identity guidelines. For instance, we incorporated colours like gold, which were not previously featured, as they resonated well with our winning image, especially among international audiences. 

ROI examples

Can you share any clear examples in terms of ROI?

In terms of results, our nurturing and conversion emails have had a significant impact, with 58% of those who opened them accepting their offers. Our programmatic advertising efforts showed, we exceeded the benchmark for similar campaigns by 0.3% and achieved a 0.2% year-on-year increase in clearing-specific campaigns, with substantial gains in click through rates. Across various metrics and targets, our campaign performed exceptionally well, surpassing our expectations. It's vital to emphasise that we did not employ a one-size-fits-all approach with the Whatuni student choice badges; instead, we tailored our messaging. 

Leveraging the runners up category and International Award

In this year's WUSCAs, UCB achieved further success by winning the International category and received excellent recognition as a runner up in several other categories too. How do you intend to capitalise on these achievements and leverage them strategically in your marketing activities?   

We have prominently displayed the international winner and silver overall award logos on the clearing page of our website. Additionally, we extensively celebrated our victories on social media and documented the story on our website. We strategically vary which awards are highlighted in our nurturing and conversion efforts, tailoring our messaging to specific target audiences. Depending on who we are reaching out to, we may emphasise the University of the Year or the Student Support award. We also used some of the nominated categories, particularly those we know are important to certain demographics, in our nurturing emails. 

Katy Corcoran20 October 2023