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Feeling the Squeeze? Our Budget Busting Tips to Make Your Spend go Further

As the year draws to a close, marketing budgets can become a little too thinly spread. According to an investigation by Times Higher Education, UK universities have increased their marketing budgets by nearly a quarter since the introduction of higher university fees, however have still suffered a 7.4 percent fall in applications.  

In this article we discuss some simple, cost-effective ways you can begin to maximise your marketing budget throughout the year whilst ensuring your application rate doesn’t decline.


70 institutions that responded to a Times Higher Education Freedom of Information request are spending upwards of £31.9 million on advertising each year. But what are they getting for this amount of money?

When you add up all of the printed collateral that a university builds into its portfolio, printing costs alone can soon add up. Part of this problem is that marketing departments often make the mistake of writing off personalised marketing as being too expensive to consider.

In fact, one way to keep costs down is to personalise your marketing efforts and offer customised prospectuses. If a prospective student is interested in studying either Biology or History, why send them a huge prospectus with small bits of information on each course, when you could send them a tailor-made guide covering just the courses they are interested in. By including only the information they need along with any other general university information that would go in to the A-Z prospectus, you can keep your printing costs down.  

Piling out thousands of large books covering each and every single course the university offers is a waste of materials and budget, chances are the prospective student knows the course they want to study and is interested in more information about your university in general.

Better still, be sure to offer a digital version of your prospectuses, this makes personalisation even easier and gives the potential student instant access to the information they need.

Student Profiling and Digital Marketing

Prospective students choose their institution based on a number of important factors, from employability rates to course content, academic reputation, distance from home and quality of academic facilities.

According to a Which? survey of prospective students, 57% said the distance of the university from their home is the most important topic that they want to know about. Make use of targeted digital marketing and advertise your institution specifically to those who live within a certain distance.

Are there any patterns in your student recruitment, such as the schools or colleges that the majority of your student base come from? Again, digital marketing allows you to reach these people specifically. This can be done through targeted ads on Facebook, which is a cost-effective way to efficiently reach people who meet specific criteria.

Further utilise digital marketing to better your standards of communication. The more information you can provide through a digital platform, the less you will spend. 42% of students in the aforementioned Which? survey couldn’t find what they were looking for when visiting a university website. Ensure that you prioritise communicating content that breaks down any barriers for decision making, put yourself in the position of the potential student and make sure all questions are answered.

Monitor accounts on all major social networks (and be an early-adopter of any new networks) to give potential students an easy way to reach out and get answers to their questions quickly, straight from the source.

The way that prospective students interact and make decisions has changed over the years and more and more often they want to be able to obtain information without physically speaking to anyone, from the comfort of their home.

Communicating your message efficiently and providing potential students with the information they need through the correct channels will result in a decrease in marketing spend and an upsurge in applications.

At AlphaGraphics, we specialise in helping higher education institutions deliver end-to-end, data-driven, automated marketing campaigns to improve student recruitment. To find out more, visit:


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