How Can UK Universities Make the Most of Clearing 2016?

Woman on laptop checking exam results

Man getting results looking worriedAugust 18, 2016: A day of fear and reckoning for students and university admissions departments alike.

‘Clearing’ marks the day students taking A-levels in the UK find out their grades; it’s also the day those who haven’t quite got the results they expected vie for remaining places on other courses.

Over the years, Clearing marketing has become more and more competitive and since there is no longer a cap on admissions numbers in the UK, in some quarters the challenge has changed from filling the last remaining spaces, to attracting as many students as possible.

So how can universities make the most of Clearing 2016?

Get ready

Because Clearing happens over a short period of time, it’s important for institutions to prepare their marketing well in advance. By promoting continually throughout the summer, universities will already be in the minds of students come D-day. This can be especially useful for those students who suspect they won’t achieve the grades they wanted, and are looking at their options before their results are even released.

Additionally, it gives institutions time to fully prepare. Make sure that Clearing 2016 information is easily accessible, clear and ready for the influx of views on the day. The one thing you want to avoid is confusing or complicated messages during what is a high-pressured and hectic time.

Understand students

beyond expectations rulesIt’s important that institutions empathise with what students are experiencing. The best way to promote a university on A-level results day is through support and advice – something prospective undergraduates will undoubtedly be looking for at this difficult time.

It’s also essential to understand that not everyone in Clearing 2016 will have missed their grades. Back in 2014, Crunch carried out a survey across five UK universities, researching how Clearing students made decisions. They found that only around 35% of those who apply at this time had missed their grades, while almost a quarter wanted to change their institution, 20% had applied late, 24% hadn’t received an offer and 16% had grades of ABB or above.

When planning out marketing, universities should ensure they’re bearing all of those groups in mind and promote programmes accordingly.

This leads on to the next point:

Focus on what you’re offering

maths kit on deskFor those students who’ve missed their grades, Clearing can make them feel like they’ve failed. Make sure your marketing challenges this assertion by focussing on the positives that can come out of this situation.

A good way to do this is to use current students who came to you through Clearing. Consider recording videos of how glad they are that they chose your institution, and how missing out on their original choice wasn’t all that bad in the end. This has the added benefit of appealing to that sense of ‘authenticity’ many millennials are looking for.

It’s also important to provide a general overview of what you have to offer. QS’s own research has shown how influential the facilities and student experience of a university are to prospective students, so make sure you’re promoting these aspects as well.

Online targeting is important

Most students now know if they have a place at university before they even open their results’ envelope at school, thanks to UCAS and online portals. For this reason, online marketing is essential for Clearing 2016. Institutions should begin channeling their efforts early on the morning of results day and continue throughout the day. Make the most of retargeting, SEO, email campaigns and tweets/social media posts to attract applicants.

One thing to bear in mind with email campaigns is that students will receive, depending on how many universities have their details, dozens of emails at once. Read our tips for crafting the perfect email to make sure yours stand out.

It’s a rush, but it’s not that much of a rush

girls getting exam results looks worriedThere’s a general consensus that Clearing is over in a matter of hours; a mad rush to the finish. In actual fact, the process lasts around two weeks, with only two-thirds of students being placed within the first seven days.

That’s not to say those first few hours aren’t vital, and indeed most traffic is recorded on results day itself, but keep running your campaigns for as long as you can to enjoy the best results.

If you’re interested in increasing your profile in the run-up to A-level results day, speak to us about our advertising opportunities.

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