How do you convert interest into action?

Every year the University of Edinburgh Business School looks to attract the best possible cohort of talented students from around the world to apply for their range of MSc, MBA and Executive MBA courses. But fewer students had put down deposits than the previous year and targets were not being reached. Existing within a highly competitive and truly global marketplace, differentiation is challenging.


Our brief was to promote specific, attractive and authentic benefits to high calibre prospects and provide them with a clear and direct opportunity to engage.

There was a rich seam of existing research to explore, from focus groups to creative testing. We mined this to gain some valuable insights, while listening to feedback from front-line staff, analysing the last campaign and exploring wider market trends. Equipped with this knowledge we set out to develop an inspiring campaign to convert interest into action.

How can a global recruitment campaign target exactly the right audience and then get them to act?


Our core proposition was centred on the Business School’s global reputation. But we also created value propositions and targeted messaging for 11 specific campaigns.

These reflected core products and specific courses which were either new or had struggled to convert applicants in the previous year.

Creatively, we developed an identifiable design framework to achieve standout and increase profile and recognition. Colour use, animated assets, messaging substantiated by proof points and calls to action (CTA) were segmented for each targeted audience.

Our ads were designed for multiple online formats.

Invitational calls to action such as personal consultation, webinar, find out more, were designed to maximise data capture opportunities and drive incremental engagement throughout the decision making process.  Each CTA had its own unique colour and was visible on every frame to encourage click throughs.

To determine the most effective CTA, we used split testing. Tagged urls were appended to all activity to track source, click through rates (CTR) and quality of sessions for each piece of creative – enabling regular measurement and conversion rate optimisation throughout the two campaign bursts. We also reviewed and adjusted existing web pages to create specific campaign landing pages, so users who clicked through from an ad accessed relevant content.


Emperor have delivered a comprehensive advertising campaign for our postgraduate programmes. They have been reliable, indeed thorough, in their planning and implementation of the latest advertising campaign as well as across a range of other projects – from branding within the building to the further development of our brand messaging.

- METTE FRIIS / Head of Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions, University of Edinburgh Business School

:: 2016 is predicted to be the largest student intake and therefore the most profitable year yet with deposits up 41% on 2015 and 24% on 2014
:: Highest application numbers since 1978
:: Applications up 13% on previous year (125% increase for 27month Executive MBA)
:: Website traffic up 20%, including 24% increase in overseas traffic
:: New personal consultation CTA achieved 300 registrations in the first month, 1,421 total – short-circuiting the conversion journey from awareness straight to direct contact


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