As well as our main University website there are a number of other sites which the Digital Marketing Team look after. The first is our staff intranet (in.beds) and there's also the dedicated Library website which is managed by their Web and Publications Officer.

We also have 45 individual micro sites (or 'project sites' as we call them). These vary in purpose, with the majority of them promoting various conferences and University funded projects. They are all setup and monitored by us and then the relevant authors are given access to go in and add content, which we approve.

Since our new website launch last year they've kind of been neglected so we felt it was about time we had a proper look at bringing them up to speed. so, the first thing we did was... Audit!

This threw up some very interesting results, especially with regards to the amount of page views and user engagement. Therefore, we decided that the first thing we needed to do was liaise with our authors to close the sites that weren't getting hits and prioritise the most visited ones.

It's always good if you can backup arguments with solid evidence, and the stats provided by Google Analytics have proved invaluable when undertaking with authors about possibly closing their sites.

The work has now begun on re-styling them all and we're really pleased with how they're all going to look. The new style is in keeping with the main site and now allows individual banners to be added. There's also loads of options to customise each site differently with 5 colours and various social media integration options.

Take a look at our Tilda Goldberg Centre site for a sneak preview of how they're all going to be looking as we roll out the new, refined design.
Last week I was asked to give a half hour presentation to our Marketing and Communications teams. The focus was to be 'Social Media do's and don'ts' and it was intended to touch upon what we are currently doing as a University, as well as looking at best practice in general.

This was actually a pretty wide brief, so I had a few problems condensing it down to the allotted time! The presentation itself went really well and there were also some great questions and debate afterwards from the audience.

The plan is, that this should kick off our crusade in the Digital Marketing Team to increase staff engagement with Social Media. We're also planning on running regular technical training sessions in the future, which will tie in with the publication of our revised Social Media guidelines.

Take a look at my (abridged) presentation below. We'll be publishing the full version (with audio) on our internal staff site soon:

Our Clearing 2012 website section
Phew! It's been a hectic few weeks at the University - especially for my team, who have been heavily involved in Clearing. This year, we were expecting students to take a more measured approach to choosing their places, and although it has been a slightly slower process, things have been very steady. After the launch of our Clearing site section on 16th August we were poised for a lot of visits but had no idea quite how busy our site would become.

Digital Marketing is definitely not a sector where you set up the campaign and sit back to see how it runs - it involves constant monitoring and refining... and that's what we've been doing!

We've also been involved in a number of other marketing avenues during this time, including some of the following (which you may have come across):
    An example of some of the daily
    statistics provided by SiD
  • Google AdWords
  • Facebook campaigns
  • Telephone monitoring
  • Daily YouTube videos
  • Audio adverts
  • Online chat
  • Progress reports for the Clearing room
  • Website MPU, skyscraper and leaderboard adverts
What has proved particularly useful for us is constant benchmarking on which campaigns have been driving the most traffic. This year, we've enlisted the help of SiD (Statistics into Decisions) to help us, and they've done a truly fantastic job of collating all of our data and turning it into something meaningful where we can see what is working for us, our prospective student's overall journey, and exactly where, why and how an application to us took place.

So what exactly were our findings? Well, firstly, Google AdWords is a very powerful tool indeed, and drove massive amounts of traffic to our site. I'd recommend any serious Digital marketeer who has not already done so to take part in Google's Certification programme to find out how to fully make use of it. Also, Facebook has proved itself to be invaluable (especially the targeted advertising). We've seen a massive rise in our Twitter interactions this year too which has started to highlight to others at the University the importance of a fast, friendly and accurate response to queries.

Like I said, it's been a longer process this year, but a very rewarding and successful one. Courses have been filling up fast and we are now down to just having a few places still available. We're looking forward to using our findings on this campaign to inform what we do next year so we can continue to market ourselves to the right people. The power of social media is becoming increasingly evident, along with the amount of website visits being made from mobile devices but what really matters is the content people arrive at at their journey's end.
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