VU launched the program at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and received many student enrollments. However, while many know the term ‘sustainability’, few recognised the broader concept of ‘planetary health’ - which made it difficult to build on the initial momentum. In the following semesters, student numbers fell below expectations.
But VU continued to believe in the value and the importance of the program, though. They just needed to refine the message to market.
VU partnered with Bc to better understand what students are actively searching for and what motivates them to pursue a Graduate Certificate. We developed detailed and qualified buyer personas and uncovered what students hoped to gain from completing formalised training in planetary health. The findings from the audience research would then flow into an awareness content marketing campaign.
The campaign strategy
Bc’s qualitative student persona research unearthed key information about students’ motivations and decision-making processes. The vast majority of Planetary Health graduates:
Already had a keen interest in sustainability before they enrolled in the program.
Saw completing a formal degree in sustainability as a critical next step in their career.
Stumbled on the Graduate Certificate in Planetary Health by accident and didn’t fully understand what it entailed until they started studying it.
Based on these insights, we developed a content marketing ‘call-to-arms’ campaign with the theme:
Level up for the planet. Build a career with impact.
The creative theme allowed us to highlight the three main benefits that completing the certificate would present to potential students:
Taking an active step to address the climate crisis and associated societal issues.
Growing their knowledge of planetary health issues, no matter their baseline experience.
Using their new-found knowledge and frameworks to build a meaningful career that has longevity.
To achieve this, Bc produced a high-quality ebook and videos featuring interviews with previous students who shared their real-world outcomes. The campaign was distributed via email to the VU database, organic and paid social. We also designed a nurture campaign to boost enrollment numbers from people who downloaded the ebook.
The campaign was in market for approximately six weeks before the intake and had close to half a million impressions on Facebook and Instagram on a tiny budget. It brought in 46 student leads at a cost per lead of just $65 and 8 applications. With email open rates ranging from 32% to over 40% and click-to-open rates of up to 11%, the campaign also performed well with VU’s existing database.
VU will continue leveraging the campaign's assets to promote its planetary health offering. What’s more, the learnings from the campaign and audience insights will now be used to inform the course format and content itself.
“Working with Bc on this campaign has allowed us to dive much deeper into course-specific audience research than we normally can with a small team responsible for managing the university’s entire offering. The purpose-led and audience-driven messaging was a differentiated approach that resonated so well that we will continue to include it in our marketing.”
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