This focus on getting the basics right is an approach that a lot of marketers can learn from. Even in a world of virtual open days and augmented-reality campus tours, your course pages are still the beating heart of your marketing and recruitment cycles. No matter what other tricks you’ll use, you will always need to generate traffic to those pages and put forward content that convinces your audience to sign up.
It’s important to remember, too, that mastering the basics is a learning process that takes time. Mats and the team had to adjust their brand imagery to find messaging that worked.
“I know we changed–we focused more on the student. Rather than being one of the best universities, now we focus more on highlighting the student. For example, we have students as the main characters in our brand story. If you have banners or short videos, it’s really student-driven. The image of the student is in the centre.”
There’s nothing flashy about the process of testing and reworking your content over time. Ultimately, though, that’s the foundation of good marketing. Mats’ team takes this approach to every part of the process, from content to data.
“I wouldn’t describe us as innovative data users. I would say we are doing the basic stuff. It seems like more and more people are realising that sometimes just doing the basic data research is enough. We do follow up on web page traffic – I hope all people do that today. This year we are thinking about how we could do that better.”
When it comes to targeting, the Helsinki team look carefully at the data to draw simple strategic conclusions:
“We just looked at where our eligible applications come from. And we did that with not just the numbers but potential, for example, Turkey is a target market just because we get so much organic traffic from there and the applications we get from there are quite good – they do well in the application funnel. So really it’s just looking at the numbers and the quality of the applicants”.
Mats is realistic about the role that market forces play in the University’s current success and that, should the landscape change, the team is ready to explore more innovative solutions.
“It’s easy at these times when the application numbers are growing no matter what we do. But the tone will change when we suddenly see a drop in applications – then we’ll say, ‘hey, we can get more applications from India.’”
Underlying this grounded outlook, however, is a keen strategic foresight that keeps the team making smart decisions. When Mats talks about the idea of expanding their marketing presence in Japan, it’s clear that he has a detailed picture of audience considerations and needs.
“There is a kind of weird cultural connection between Finland and Japan. And there are direct flights from Japan to Finland. So all these small things add up to the decision on where to focus our marketing. There are certain cities where there are direct flights. And those particular cities become interesting to us. Because that’s something that we know that people think about.”
Thoughtful marketing is at the core of the marketing strategy at the University of Helsinki. If you’re interested in learning more about how simple adjustments can make a big difference to your results, get in touch with us here at The Brand Education. We’re always excited to hear from you.