YouTube Best Practices – Q&A with University of Huddersfield Part 1

Having been a Director of Admission and now working at a higher education marketing firm, I always keep my eyes open for new and creative ways of adding social media into the undergraduate and overall marketing mix. Creative possibilities abound, and keeping an open mind helps me get beyond the “we already have a Facebook page” mentality.

Recently, I interviewed Jill Gainer,BSc, DipM, DipDigM, the Senior E-Marketing Officer at the University of Huddersfield about “Aliens in the Hud,” an intelligent YouTube video that explores what happens when aliens visit the University. At twenty-two thousand views, it’s picked up quite a bit of traction in the social web.

1. How would you briefly describe the University of Huddersfield?

The University of Huddersfield is an inspiring, innovative University with 24,000 students from over 130 countries. We are based in West Yorkshire, in the North of England.

2. Where did the idea for ‘Aliens in the Hud’ originate? What was its ultimate goal?

Within the UK, there is a rapidly changing environment in Higher Education with competition between Universities becoming fierce, and as a result our marketing efforts have to become smarter – we have to do more with less.

We recognise that video can appeal more quickly to the emotions than print and photographs, and we wanted to develop film content which would capture the emotional appeal of Huddersfield. There are a number of Universities who have created ‘viral’ film clips but we wanted to create something a little bit different which reflected the University’s personality. Our goal was to create an online film campaign which would attract attention to the University whilst subtlety reinforcing our key messages to the Undergraduate target audience. The ultimate goal was to increase the undergraduate applications for September 2012 entry.

The E-Marketing Team worked alongside a film production company called The film company came up with the film concept which was inspired by Huddersfield being a UFO hot spot in the UK.

We identified our KPIs such as number of views, likes, retweets, sentiment, comments etc and set targets for each for a given time period. This activity will help to assess whether the project is a success or not.

3. When the idea was initially proposed, was there resistance from University administration? If so, how did you convince them to move it forward?

We are lucky in that we have a great senior management team who are confident in the University marketing team’s activities. The University ethos is to inspire others and that involves being brave with our marketing efforts.

4. Who was involved in production? How long did it take to produce?

The E-Marketing Team worked alongside a film production company called on the production of the film clip.

We were keen to have staff and students acting in the film clip to give it a certain level of authenticity so we had our budding actors and actresses audition for roles in the film. Once our key actors/actresses and extras were chosen, filming commenced. Filming took less than 5 days and the film company completed post production work in less than 3 weeks which was fantastic – we were able to launch the clip whilst the filming was still fresh in staff and students minds.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with Jill on Tuesday, February 7. What do you think? How can you incorporate KPI’s into your YouTube channel. What examples have you seen that are worth noting?

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4 Tech Updates You Can’t Overlook

As education professionals, it’s hard to be on top of everything. So, to help kick-off your week we’ve compiled a short list of last week’s most relevant technology updates. This way you can begin your week informed and ready.

4 Tech Updates You Can’t Overlook:

1) Google’s Comprehensive Privacy Policy

Google is merging data from all its products and services. Previously siloed information spread across YouTube, Gmail, Search and the Android OS among others will all link to one end user. While this does make Google’s wealth of information creepy, it can provide better insights when developing Search and Display Ad campaigns.

2) Facebook’s Implementation of Timeline

This glossy new mandatory profile change is forcing users to upgrade over the next few weeks. Timeline creates a chronological scrapbook from all your activity on the site. Facebook claims this does not reveal more information than previous profiles. It does, however, emphasize major life changes and may bring up old wounds and past regrets. If Facebook begins to extend Timeline to companies, organizations and schools, then we need to be aware that past PR fiascos may resurface if updates are not monitored properly.


This new white-list system will block emails from phishing scams by authenticating only legitimate companies. This system has heavy backers such as Google, Microsoft, Bank of America, and AOL. If DMARC is standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force we may see better results from email campaigns as users begin to trust their inboxes.


While the SOPA legislation went down in flames early last week, ACTA, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is so big not even congress can touch it. This global copyright protection and intellectual property treaty signed by the U.S. last year mimics many of the same concerns we had with SOPA and PIPA at an international level. Perhaps, an international protest similar to “Stop SOPA” will ensue, but regardless institutions need to prepare themselves now. You don’t need to begin revamping your whole site, but take note of where your school’s site does not comply with ACTA. This way you’re prepared  if the treaty stands.

13 Essential Components of Higher Education Branding

I believe in frameworks. They help you conceptualize ideas as well as give you a structure upon which to hang your branding work. As I consult with schools about their efforts, I’ve found that it’s helpful draw things out and define how certain components fit together. This post should give you an idea of the various pieces of your institution’s brand.


Let’s go the source on this one. The American Marketing Association defines brand as:

A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name.

Brand Equity

A measurement of the ‘value’ of your brand. Essentially, it is a measurement of how your brand affects institutional revenue compared to an institution that does not have a brand (if there were such a thing).

Brand Identity

Traditionally defined as the sum total of the visual elements of your brand, brand identity has evolved to include the experiences (taste, smell, conversations) that people have with your school.

Brand Positioning

In Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, Jack Trout and Al Ries define positioning as “an organized system for finding a window in the mind. It is based on the concept that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances” (p. 19 of 2001 paperback edition). Most marketers agree that a brand position is a perception that your audience maintains about your school.

Brand Awareness

If managing perception is your stock in trade, brand awareness is your ruler. Brand awareness is the extent to which a student, alumni or parent 1) knows about you (let’s hope alumni do) and 2) can correctly associate you with the traits that you desire to own in their mind.

Brand Loyalty

This is a student’s, parent’s, or alumni’s commitment to attending or donating to your institution. It is usually demonstrated by repeated engagement with your school – whether through purchasing branded gear or committing time or other resources in the aid of achieving your goals.

Brand Understanding

This is what you say about yourself. More importantly, it’s what other people say about you. It’s the Empathy piece of our Higher Education Experience Pyramid. This used to be constructed through marketing messages, but now social media gives you the opportunity to mold perception in real time.

Brand Image

This is total perception of your school in your community’s mind. Each segment – prospects, current students, alumni, boards of directors, etc. will all have a different concept of your school. Since image is largely built up through advertising and social engagement, it’s important to keep your direct marketing messages tailored to each segment while also keeping an eye on authenticity in socially mediated content.

Brand Personality

Quick! Describe your school with one adjective. What is it? Smart? Intellectual? Friendly? Brand personality is the human characteristic that your audience assigns to your school. It can come through in advertising, but also in your interactions on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Brand Experience

When most people think about a brand, they usually jump right to the verbal and visual components of identity – a logo, a tagline. Experience encompasses all those other interactions with your school. It’s where your students and parents reconcile your brand promise with the truth of their interactions with you and your counselors.

Brand Research

In 1927, advertising great Claude C. Hopkins wrote, “We must never judge humanity by ourselves. The things we want, the things we like, may appeal to a small minority.” This tidbit of wisdom still holds true today. The only way to truly know if you are speaking your students’ language, is to, well, speak with them and find out what they want, like and love about your school

Brand Promise

This is your pinky swear to students and parents. It’s the main benefit that a student will receive at your institution. It usually manifests itself in your tagline.

Brand Differentiation

What makes you different? What’s the one thing that you do for your students that no one else can do? This is how you stand out – how you show families that they can’t get the same level of experience anywhere else.

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5 Marketing Metrics that Every Higher Education Marketer Should Know

Word of Mouth

Measures: How well your content is passing from person to person through recommendations.
Channel: Email, blogs, Twitter, Facebook
How to measure it: (Number of direct clicks + Number of clicks from recommendations)/Number of direct clicks

Brand Awareness

Measures: Students and parents ability to recall or recognize your institution.
Medium: TV, billboards, sponsorships, print ads, banner ad, direct mail
How to measure it: Phone interviews, focus groups or surveysAsk parents or students,

For an undergraduate degree, what is the first school name you think of?
For an undergraduate degree, what other colleges or universities have you heard of?

Return on Marketing Investment

Measures: The effectiveness of your marketing investment in producing revenue.
Channel: All marketing channels in your campaign
How to measure it: (Revenue-Marketing investment/Marketing investment) x 100%

Cost Per Click

Measures: The amount you pay every time someone clicks on a paid search advertisement.
Channel: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn
How to measure it: Simply, take the price you pay for each click on an ad. If you choose a maximum cost per click, you will only pay that amount.

Conversion Rate

Measures: The effectiveness of a website in convincing visitors to take an action.
Channel: Website, landing page
How to measure it: Divide the number of visitors who took an action on your site by the total number of visitors.

A Framework for Value Based Direct Marketing in Higher Education

We send a lot of direct mail. Millions of pieces go out every year for our colleges and universities.

With clients who are constantly forced to do more with less and rising postage rates, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our schools get the best return on their direct marketing dollar.

With that it mind, we’ve created a value based framework for factoring which students should receive print mail.

The Value-Based Direct Marketing Framework


How to Use the Direct Marketing Framework

The dimensions of the framework are expected retention rate (ETR) and response rate. Low to medium ETR students do not get a mailing, but may receive an email instead. Since the return on your enrollment marketing investment will be low, you should waste valuable dollars on them. High predicted ETRs and low Low expected response rates do not receive direct mail either.

The logic here is simple. If students are not going to reply, don’t reach out them.

On the other end of the spectrum, high expected response rates get priority for direct mail pieces. Lower predicted ETRs still receive mail, but it should be your most cost-effective piece.

By focusing on the students who are most likely to respond you can cut your marketing budget, or use the extra dollars to create mind-blowing work that creates a full experience for the student or parents.

In summary, look at the value of your students and determine which are likely to reply to your direct marketing. Students are unlikely to enroll, graduate or respond should receive no direct mail or should only receive emails.

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