#MarketingExcellenceAwards highlights: How NUS grabbed the attention of global MBA students

 

Taking home the silver for Excellence in Performance Marketing and the bronze in Excellence in B2B Marketing is Construct Digital with its clients NUS which managed to successfully get students to choose NUS as their institution of choice for MBAs. To recruit from a global audience, NUS needed a strong go-to Market strategy for 15 ASEAN countries targeting users aged 45-25 who were already interested in taking an MBA in Asia.

Challenge

With MBA degrees popping up all over the world, potential students are often spoiled for choice. Ranked number 15 in the world by the Financial Times, NUS was trailing behind Top 10 schools like Harvard, CEIBS and INSEAD in the eyes of new applicants. Each NUS programme - the MBA, the Executive MBA, and the NUS-UCLA Executive MBA - had distinct USPs and a different target audience.

The question was once you have the students attention, how can NUS nudge prospective applicants down the laboriously long consideration process?

Strategy

NUS needed to understand its audiences better - their motivations, pain points and reasons for applying - and convince them why the NUS programmes would deliver the value they sought. For this, they needed a persona and content strategy to entice prospective students from awareness, to consideration, to clicking the "Apply Now" button.

To better understand who an ideal applicant was, the strategy and data team at Construct Digital along with NUS reviewed market research, previous campaign data, and student data pulled from social measuring tools. These findings of who the students were, where they came from, what their interests were - was the basis of the go-to Market strategy. The target was 15 ASEAN countries using a mixture of Search, Display and Social (Facebook + Linkedln).

Ads were split into prospecting and nurturing phases. Prospecting gathered first-touch leads from potential students using lead gen ads or traffic ads redirecting to a conversion-optimised landing page. Users either downloaded a programme brochure or registered for a one-on-one consultation to speak directly with an admissions manager. Once the lead was captured, they were nurtured towards applying for the NUS programme on their full-time website. Directing users to a conversion optimised page was critical as it narrowed the conversion path typically undergone on NUS's main website. Rather than click through several pages to find the form, we featured it prominently above the fold with a clear call to action.

Delivery

Starting from three programmes and five audience personas, the overall structure was built from hundreds of campaigns, ad copies, creatives, sub-audiences and stages from prospecting to nurturing to retargeting. As the campaigns continued, audience data was added through lookalike audiences. Careful naming conventions and platform automation was the only way to handle such a massive structure.

Success was based on the personalisation of messaging for each persona at each stage (the right message, to the right audience, at the right time). The creation of a nurturing process at the marketing level to aid with NUS's marketing automation process once the user converted to a marketing-qualified lead. Of course, in order to achieve results and deliver a cost-effective CPL, the team dedicated hours on a weekly basis to monitor, optimise and refresh creatives, then track each campaign and audience.nus

Results

The MBA programme's CPL has decreased compared to 2019 and NUS has since topped up its media spend by 50% in key recruitment months, opened new channels, and expanded marketing in different continents such as Canada and the USA. The successful performance of this campaign came down to creating a persona message personalisation and strong nurturing process.  The MBA programme saw 391% increase in monthly leads and UCLA saw 588% increase in monthly leads. EMBA saw 398% increase in monthly leads.