The competition for online education programs continues to get more crowded. For prospective students, more competition means more choices, and that can be a good thing. But for the growing number of colleges and universities offering degrees and certificates online, they need to differentiate. It isn’t enough to offer convenience and flexibility. Up&Up helped The University of Georgia find what makes it truly unique and developed a campaign to share it with the world.
Our research of online students and recent graduates from the University of Georgia revealed that brand affinity and familiarity with an institution make a big difference when deciding which online program to choose.
When the University of Georgia first launched its online program in 2012, it was dubbed “UGA Online” for brevity and ease of use. While the name “UGA” is known regionally, the institution’s world-renowned reputation was built around “The University of Georgia.” So our first recommendation was to change the name and take advantage of 230 years of international brand equity. We then designed a new brand identity system for flexibility and easy adoption by more than 17 schools and colleges.
Our research showed that more than 75% of online students and alumni consider themselves Bulldog fans. So early campaign concepts tapped into loyalty for the University of Georgia brand and a few traditions that only true bulldog fans could really appreciate.
A series of 30-second video spots were written to help make moms, dads, working professionals and other prospective students for the Online Learning program feel like they were a part of the UGA community.
When choosing an online program, convenience and proximity are big factors. But during and after taking the program, students told us it was the faculty that made all the difference.
For many college and university online programs, courses are taught by adjunct faculty and third-party contractors. But, from the beginning, The University of Georgia made an important decision to have only faculty members teach online. Students learn from the same faculty who are teaching classes on campus, many of whom are world-renowned researchers, authors, and leading experts in their field.
We built out the campaign to launch across multiple channels including digital display advertising, pay-per-click, and native sponsored ads targeted to working mothers and other prospective non-traditional online students. Because of the growing number of ad blockers on mobile, the marketing plan also included music channels and news apps.
While reaching prospective students online was the majority of the marketing plan, we also recognized the opportunity to grow awareness through more traditional advertising channels, including outdoor advertising and signage in high traffic areas such as airports.
All roads of this multi-channel campaign lead back to the Online Learning website, where prospective students can search a growing number of online programs, and explore in-depth profiles of more than 100 faculty members.