Strategic creative agency, Stratitude, developed an integrated campaign to drive 2021 student applications at Nelson Mandela University

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdown on tertiary institutions in South Africa has been significant. Not only has it greatly affected teaching and learning but it’s also impacted university applications for 2021.

Nelson Mandela University has traditionally recruited new undergraduate students by holding on-campus open days, campus tours and high school recruitment visits. However, with lockdown closing all universities and restrictions limiting face-to-face presentations, it proved a major stumbling block to their conventional recruitment practices.

“We needed an agency to drive applications and ensure we reached our 2021 targets, which included communicating with students after they had applied, to encourage final registration. In addition, the agency had to present a skills transfer solution upon completion of the campaign, to assist our recruitment team to digitise their future processes and strategies,” says Bernard Piater,

Student Recruitment Marketing Collateral Specialist at Nelson Mandela University. “Having worked successfully with Stratitude on a digital strategy earlier in the year, we knew they understood our brand and were confident they would deliver a clear strategy and effective campaign to meet our targets.”

Stratitude, a strategic creative agency, developed, implemented and measured an integrated campaign which ran for six weeks. The campaign included social media, Google advertising and SEO, public relations, radio advertising and direct marketing. In addition, a uniquely illustrative brand extension was created and consistently applied across all channels as an identifier for the application campaign.

“With limited budget resources and the challenges of the pandemic, we used new channels and tactics to drive potential applications and we couldn’t be happier with the result,” says Nicolas Baker, Digital Account Director at Stratitude. “With social media impressions at 2,6 million, AdWords at 2,1 million, radio listeners at 9,5 million and a PR return on investment of over 2 300%, we overcame the physical contact limitations imposed by lockdown and cost-effectively reached potential applicants in all nine provinces. But, most importantly, we delivered on the campaign’s key objective with a conversion rate in excess of 43% during the campaign period.”

In addition to the campaign results, relevant university staff members were successfully involved in skills transfer sessions, delivering on the requirement to empower the internal recruitment team.

“It’s been a challenging year for all universities and an uncertain one for students, but Stratitude has helped us reassure and communicate with potential applicants that we’re open for business in 2021. Even with all the difficulties brought on by the pandemic and the short notice period for the campaign, Stratitude has delivered great results and has far exceed our application targets for 2021,” says Piater.