Harrow College revolutionises learner journey

Working smarter and personalising recruitment to boost admissions by up to 20 percent

Published on 13-May-2013

"With IBM we are revolutionising the way we market ourselves to prospective students...From what we have seen already, the IBM technology has the potential to increase our admissions by 20 percent." - Judith Abbott, Director of Finance and Resources, Harrow College

Customer:
Harrow College

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Business Performance Transformation, EMM - Digital Marketing Optimization, Enterprise Modernization, Information Integration, Smarter Commerce

Overview

For each and every educational institution in the UK, the pressure to attract prospective learners has never been more intense. Annual higher education admissions across the country fell by 8.9 percent on average in the 2012/13 academic year1. With further education colleges facing increasing competition from a wider range of educational establishments and with overall budgets tightening, every institution must work smarter to remain competitive.

Business need:
With students challenging the value of education, increasing competition and squeezed budgets, marketing must integrate across digital and manual channels to deliver the best results.

Solution:
Using a suite of digital analytics and marketing solutions from IBM, the college can gain a single view of potential learners, and use data to target visitors with personalised advertisements.

Benefits:
Unprecedented insight into online visitor behaviour and strategic trends enables Harrow College to transform the business of education, and turn more prospects into applicants.

Case Study

For each and every educational institution in the UK, the pressure to attract prospective learners has never been more intense. Annual higher education admissions across the country fell by 8.9 percent on average in the 2012/13 academic year1. With further education colleges facing increasing competition from a wider range of educational establishments and with overall budgets tightening, every institution must work smarter to remain competitive.

Harrow College has recognized this challenge for some time and has actively sought to diversify its recruitment activities. With over 12,000 enrolments year on year, across both academic and vocational FE and HE programs, increasing market share whilst continuing to deliver high quality learning experiences is paramount to the college’s long term success.

Moving marketing into the modern age
Recognising that traditional marketing efforts were unlikely to make the required impact and deliver sustained business growth, Harrow College looked to take its marketing strategy to the next level.

Corinne Jess, Marketing Manager at Harrow College states: “We know that the web is rapidly becoming the first port of call for many potential students in their education search, which is why we redesigned the whole look and feel of our website to encourage more applicants. Drawing potential students to the website wasn’t an issue – we were receiving around two thousand visitors a day. The real difficulty was figuring out how to convert those visitors into applicants.”

Seeking to take greater advantage of its online presence, unify marketing systems and attract more students, Harrow College selected the IBM® Digital Marketing Optimization Suite. The cloud-based solution delivers a powerful fusion of web visitor profiles, analytics and digital marketing execution that empowers the college to gather more information on prospective learners, and use it to improve their recruitment experience.

“Harrow College is proud to be working with IBM on our digital marketing venture,” says Corinne Jess. “It stands to transform our marketing strategy and provide a great way to measure return on investment for all online marketing and advertising efforts. IBM Digital Marketing will enable us to segment our offer and enjoy greater interaction with prospective students which in turn will benefit admissions.”

Capturing valuable data on prospective students
Previously, the college had no way of tracking how prospective students interacted with its website and social media pages; the online recruitment journey ended as soon as a visitor left the Harrow College website.

Now, IBM Digital Analytics LIVE (Lifetime Individual Visitor Experience) Profiles will capture all of the digital interactions of visitors as they move around the Harrow College website or social media webpages and fuse it with their manual interactions to provide a single view. Once a potential student leaves the website, the college can use this information to create personalized banner advertisements on other webpages that proactively reach out to entice learners back to Harrow College’s website.

For example, a visitor might come to the website and look at a science course and the basketball team. Leaders can then use these digital behaviors to create a banner ad with a personalized offer for science at Harrow College that follows them around the web and helps to draw them back to the site.

When a prospective learner returns to the Harrow College website, by clicking through a banner ad or of their own accord, the landing page will recognize who they are and transform, highlighting courses and pages in which the specific visitor may have interest.

By showcasing information that is highly relevant and personalized to each visitor, the college can capture visitors’ attention more effectively, and improve their likelihood of taking the next step towards making an application. In this way, Harrow College can boost its appeal to the digital native generation, demonstrating understanding of the individual and tailoring an experience to bring greatest value.

Turning information into insight
The wealth of new information provided by the IBM solution will also enable Harrow College to make more informed decisions regarding its marketing investment. Using powerful analytical tools embedded in the IBM Digital Marketing Optimization Suite, the college will be able to gain a better understanding of how visitors are engaging with all channels, what kind of demand exists among potential students, and where best to allocate its marketing spend.

Pat Carvalho, Vice Principal of Harrow College, remarks: “IBM Digital Marketing puts us at the forefront of learner recruitment by revolutionizing our marketing practice. We can use this information to make smarter choices when it comes to our marketing efforts. For instance, if we see that a large number of 16 year-old females in the area looked at our engineering course in the last two weeks, but did not make an application, we can create a specialized banner ad targeted to that demographic, which could give them the push they need to come back to our website for more information.”

Maximizing marketing spend
Thanks to powerful marketing attribution capabilities by using a single platform, the college’s marketing team can determine the true return on investment (ROI) of each advertising campaign.

By using the tool Harrow College leaders can measure the success of every campaign to ensure greatest impact of budget on admissions. In addition all the time building up a complete profile of the most effective ways to attract learners specific to the demographic, course or location and benchmarking across the industry.

Embedding analytics across the organization
The new solution builds on these analytics capabilities to offer intuitive reporting and dashboards, which ensure that the right information is delivered to decision-makers in a format that they can easily understand. Executives, heads of department and program managers can see recruitment information that is relevant to them, informing on the demands of students for new courses, changes to existing courses and the impact of department-led activities on the recruitment cycle. They can access dashboards from a web interface any where, any time on any device, embedding a recruitment-focused culture.

For example, executive staff will gain a high-level overview of advertising results, while department heads will be able to see subject-specific dashboards that display the interest levels for each course, and application numbers by course.

Through this personalized approach to reporting, the college hopes to promote greater responsibility for improving performance across the entire organization. By encouraging staff to take an active role in making Harrow College a truly more attractive place to study, not only will the college be able to recruit more students, it will be able to guarantee that their time on campus is a positive experience.

Judith Abbott, Director of Finance and Resources at Harrow College concludes: “With IBM we are revolutionizing the way we market ourselves to prospective students. We’re excited by the prospect of making our advertising budget stretch so much further and really boosting our enrolment numbers, and we are eager to see the results of the new digital strategy. From what we have seen already, the IBM technology has the potential to increase our admissions by 20 percent.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
IBM Digital Analytics, IBM Content Recommendations, IBM Digital Analytics Impression Attribution

Legal Information

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