Clarkson University- Email Campaign

Distinguishing the Clarkson Difference

clark_Trudeau email_1

The Challenge

On November 20, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a partnership between New York State, Clarkson University, and The Trudeau Institute to form a world-class biotech enterprise and further establish the region as a premier center of biotechnology research and development. This partnership led to the development of The Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program, which completed its first semester in the summer of 2014. Following the success of the pilot program, Clarkson was challenged to grow The Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program by 40 students for the 2015 Fall Semester.

The Solution

Zone 5 designed an email campaign to target self-identified students interested in the Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program. We developed ‘The Clarkson Difference’, an identity with which the Clarkson Trudeau partnership could identify three unique differentiators (‘Explore. Experience. Environment’) that the program presents to students. Each email was comprised of Zone 5’s copywriting, design and programming. To supplement the email campaign, we also deployed targeted Facebook social advertising in the final week prior to the application deadline as a last push/call to action for submitting applications.

The Results

The email campaign and social advertising worked seamlessly together. Not only did the biology program receive the second highest number of applications out of all Clarkson programs for the fall 2015 semester, 400 applicants were from those who opened all four emails in the campaign. Furthermore, the Facebook advertising initiative resulted in over 3,200 website clicks and reached over 222,000 people.

ClarksonTrudeau Email2ClarksonTrudeau Email #3clark_Trudeau email_NewYearclark_Trudeau email_OpenHouse 2a

St. Thomas Aquinas College- Website Redesign

Evolving a College’s Web Presence

STAC Web_Desktop

St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) is a small, private college located in Rockland County, New York, less than hour from New York City. The college prides itself on the close community offered to its students and the personal approach they follow when engaging with prospective students and their parents. While the admissions team had strong print and email recruitment materials, the college’s website was not conveying the true STAC brand and was in need of a complete redesign.

The STAC team reached out to the Zone 5 higher education team to discuss not only their need for a redesign but a new CMS as well. Following extensive discussions with the college’s IT team and web content managers, Zone 5 recommended Drupal as the preferred new CMS.

During the site’s creative development process, STAC officials wanted to be sure that the new cite not only highlighted the college’s key brand attributes and messages, but that the site’s overall look and feel was also complimentary to the current recruitment communications program. With these directives in mind, Zone 5 developed more “evolutionary vs. revolutionary” creative direction for the new site.

The new website launched officially in January of 2014, the response thus far has been extremely positive. Early reports from the admissions team and thru Google Analytics indicated an immediate increase in site traffic and engagement. Unlike with the old site, admissions counselors are now much more inclined to direct prospective audiences to the new site. Their confidence paid off. Early reports indicated a measurable increase in new-student applications and enrollees for fall 2016.

STAC Web_Mobile

(Mobile View)

 STAC Web_Tablet

(Tablet View)

5 Takeaways From the 2016 Higher Education Analytics Conference


Did you miss last week’s #HEA16 conference? No worries, we did too! Though here at Zone 5, we make a point to keep our eyes and ears open to valuable Higher Education information, trends and conference highlights, even when we can’t be there in person. With that in mind, here are (Z)5 things to takeaway from the 2016 Higher Ed Analytics Conference:

  1. Reevaluate your SEO.
    Using Google Analytics benchmarking data, @karinejoly showed that organic search is still the primary driver of traffic to higher ed websites. And you’ll reap an additional benefit: those who reach your site via organic search spend more time there—a strong case for devoting resources to your on-site Search Engine Optimization.
  1. Don’t throw darts at the wall.
    A balanced approach to analytics, according to @joshuaddodson, is intentional, contextual and deliberate. It’s important to define where you are and then use the data to identify next steps. “Vanity” metrics — traffic numbers devoid of context — have no place in an effective marketing plan. Balanced measurement is key to implementing your social strategy.
  1. Tell a story with your data.
    Getting campus departments on board with analytics can prove to be a difficult task. Stakeholders are busy; to get their attention you need to create a captivating narrative when presenting your data. Follow @chase_baker’s example: reports should be structured in a clean, simple fashion to highlight key performance indicators, allowing your team to easily spot trends that affect your overall strategy.
  1. Integrate web, social and email analytics.
    Your college’s digital presence extends far beyond your own web site, and that combined wealth of data can lead to insights that can’t be gleaned from a single source. Channel Alec Baldwin’s Glengarry Glen Ross character and “Always Be Measuring.” @lizgross144 advocates using custom URL parameters for additional tracking on social posts. Use Facebook’s Power Editor to manage ad campaigns and create custom audiences from your website. In short, take advantage of the wealth of tools and data at your disposal. Yes, it’s a big attention investment, but a big ROI is the result.
  1. Utilize Google Tag Manager.
    Another great tool from Google that is being used by only 16% of Higher Ed sites, according to @UVMWebTeam. GTM gives you fast, flexible way to future-proof your site analytics — changes to tags and new tags can be made through GTM and do not require changes to website code. Get universal event tracking, better Youtube stats, debug options and version control. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the reward for that effort is the ability to collect granular data about specific user actions with a minimum of effort.

Check out the #HEA16 Storify for more advice on how to make data-driven decisions to help advance your school.

Borderless Education Appreciation

Zone 5 is committed to learning, expanding, and working with organizations beyond borders at all twists and turns. In honor of last week being International Education Week (#IEW2014), we would like to send a shout out to some of our clients in the higher education sector who really apply themselves and create opportunities for their students to experience beyond borders as well!

Across the world, students have been learning about a variety of disciplines for decades. Marshall University’s 51st annual International Festival demonstrates just that by having an annual exposition that features international foods, world music and dance, as well as a multitude of displays representing many different countries and cultures. Check out some the photos below showcasing the talent and cultural breadth that this event offers each year to its students and members of the surrounding community:

Marshall Festival 1 Marshall Festival 2

Marshall Festival 3 Marshall Festival 4

Photo Credit: Marshall University Photos 

At St. Thomas Aquinas College students are taking a hands on approach to cultural experience through not only their study abroad programs in regions like Oxford, England but also through service learning trips across the globe! This past spring, students were fortunate enough to learn and soak in all that Nicaragua has to offer while assisting to build homes for families through the Bridges to Community Organization program.

Additionally, these higher education organizations have students from other areas around the world that are coming to the United States to enhance their education, which according to IDP is leading in quality collegiate programming.

See the infographic below for other aspects and countries and how they rank:

IDP Infographic

Source: IDP Education, International Student Buyer Behavioral Research 2014


So, in honor of International Education Week, Zone 5 would like to state how proud we are to work with such wonderful organizations and to be an international firm through our work with our friends to the north at Algoma University!

A 25/25 Perspective on #AMAHigherEd

(Image credit: Ty Wilkins @TyWilkins)Last week, I was in the great state of Texas to attend the 25th annual Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, sponsored by the American Marketing Association (AMA). The conference was held in Austin, known to be a bit weird at times and proud of it.

I felt a little weird myself heading into the conference since I realized the Higher Education Symposium and I were celebrating the same anniversary. I’ve actually spent my entire 25-year career exclusively in higher education marketing so I was contemplating what I would experience in Austin and at the conference itself.

Austin, TX hosted the AMA Higher Education Symposium

Capitol view from UT Austin

The first evening of the conference kicks off with a welcome reception where everyone has a chance to settle in, meet old and new friends, and get geared up for the sessions over the next three days. I walked into the reception with a weird feeling like the one you get walking into a high school reunion not knowing who you might see, what the conversations would be like, etc. After only a few minutes at the reception, I was received with many handshakes and hugs, and that weird Austin vibe quickly went away. The evening concluded with some great Texas BBQ at Stubb’s.

After a morning run on the University of Texas campus, I was looking forward to the first keynote session of the higher education conference. I wasn’t disappointed. And, with all the buzz that morning around #AMAHigherEd, many felt the same way. The session theme focused on how colleges and universities should embrace the unique aspects of their location as they define and communicate their institution’s character. A first for any keynote that I’ve ever attended, it was highlighted by live music by Darden Smith, as well as, stories and poems from real Texas cowboys talking about the importance of place and showing a willingness to brag about who they are and what they do. A willingness to “brag” resonated with many in the audience but not in a negative context. If you have something good to say about your school and are truthful to what that is, go ahead and brag about. As I tweeted during the session, Bragging=Branding.

Ray AMA Higher Education tweet

Following the keynote, I was geared up to attend a few key sessions. One revealed the latest insights on how students and parents go about the college search and selection process and the overwhelming impact campus visits have on their final college decision. Another focused on the art and science of demographics and the importance of knowing and using the right data in making key strategic enrollment and marketing decisions. The last session of my day highlighted the development of a reimagined higher education website for Columbia College in Chicago. Amazingly, Columbia took their old site of over 36,000 content pages down to less than 1,000 with one purpose in mind…to create a site for right-fit prospective students only. It certainly paid off with inquiries increasing 44% in the first month the site was launched. Lesson here? Know who your audience is and create content (“stories”) that are relevant and appeal to them. How weird!

My last day of the conference was highlighted by the keynote from Dr. Ann Weaver Hart, president of University of Arizona. Dr. Hart shared how the University’s “Never Settle” strategic plan was the foundation for creating an all-new institutional-wide branding campaign. Her points affirmed for me what I’ve always believed…that an institution’s strategic plan must be part of or the driving force behind any new branding initiative.

All in all, this year’s #AMAHigherEd conference raised the bar as far as record attendance, the breadth of session content and the chance to have some good times with clients and friends. I’m now looking forward to next year’s conference in the windy city of Chicago. Until then, stay weird Austin!