Communicating clearly and early: the importance of data in university messaging

The higher education guidance platform Unifrog is not only driving data-based messaging but also delivering tangible results for institutions

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24 Jun 2024
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Unifrog at THE HashtagHigherEd UK 2024
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Discover how Unifrog helps students find the right university and course for them

How can higher education institutions appeal to students in a subject-specific manner? How can they tailor their brand voice based on what truly matters to school students who are researching the next steps in their academic journey? These were some of the questions examined during a discussion, held in partnership with Unifrog, at the 2024 THE HashtagHigherEd UK event. 

Unifrog is a guidance and support platform for students who are considering their choice of universities and courses. It is a user-friendly platform that helps students learn more about universities, compare their options and make strong applications. Unifrog partners with schools and universities to support students to be successful in their academic careers. 

“Students are actively using our platform to research and weigh up their options,” explained Ashley Walshe, higher education partnerships manager at Unifrog. “In the 2023 academic cycle, we had more than 1.5 million shortlists created on the platform. It represents a good first step for students.”

Keen to better understand the shortlisting data stored on the platform and how it translates into activity around the UCAS January deadline, Unifrog’s data team carried out a detailed analysis. According to their findings, on average, 83 per cent of year-on-year UCAS trends were matching up with the shortlisting data on the platform. 

“Our data reveals how early students are conducting their research,” said Megan Soley, Unifrog’s higher education partnerships coordinator. “We saw genuine student intent on the platform as early as February of Year 12.”

This presents an opportunity for universities to share relevant and targeted communication with students during the preliminary period of decision-making. At this stage, geotargeting can help universities better understand regional demand and make informed decisions about their messaging, which could influence enrolment.

“Other things to consider regarding your student communication are outreach, resource allocation, budgets and course portfolio planning,” said Jess Wells, higher education partnerships manager at Unifrog. Having access to relevant trends and data can ease this process, she said.

On the Unifrog platform, students are not only able to compare and contrast options but also filter and prioritise different factors that are important to them. The data drawn from the Unifrog platform provides a level of granularity that is helpful for universities to tailor their communication with prospective students. 

The data also shows that there are several factors that influence student decisions, including rankings, proximity to home, prestige and cost. “As part of our yearly survey, we asked students what they found the most valuable when researching university,” Wells said. “The answer that I particularly wanted to highlight was webinars and online events. This is still highly ranked by students even though the sector has moved away from always-online education.”

There are other takeaways that can be gleaned from Unifrog data, including those relating to employability, teaching methods and strategies for leveraging wider trends. Soley shared examples from subjects such as computing and law to explain how universities can apply insights from Unifrog. “For instance, we’ve seen evidence of a campaign by Birkbeck, University of London, which tapped into data from our student shortlists and achieved a hugely positive clickthrough rate,” said Soley. 

The speakers:

  • Megan Soley, higher education partnerships coordinator, Unifrog
  • Ashley Walshe, higher education partnerships manager, Unifrog
  • Jess Wells, higher education partnerships manager, Unifrog

Find out more about Unifrog.

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