Analysing impact of budget reductions on longer term student recruitment

Analysing impact of budget reductions on longer term student recruitment

Durham University Business School

The brief

Durham University Business School offers a portfolio of MBA, EMBA, DBA, PhD and specialist Masters programmes. Although triple accredited with strong programme rankings, the business school still has to utilise its marketing budget intelligently to raise awareness and attract suitably qualified leads in a competitive market.

The School’s marketing budget was reduced in 2019/2020 by 50% from the previous year, potentially resulting in a significant loss of market visibility. Given the lengthy decision-making cycle of many MBA and EMBA candidates in particular, the marketing team knew this reduction could be detrimental in the long-term, even if initial performance statistics indicated otherwise. Our brief was to look beyond the immediate top-line data to assess the deeper impact of reduced marketing activities.

The solution

Media Minds worked with the DUBS marketing team to analyse the performance of reduced marketing spend compared with previous years. The lower spend had resulted in a reduced media campaign focussed on ‘last-touch’ attribution to calculate Return-On-Investment (ROI).

Although working well when assessed on this metric, MMG analysed performance beyond this, and conclusively showed that whilst short-term metrics looked strong, the revised campaign strategy was performing significantly worse year-on-year both in terms of generating brand awareness, and attributable leads for the immediate and future (2-3 years out) programme intakes.

The results

Our analysis revealed that the 50% reduction in marketing budget had actually resulted in an 85% drop in attributable ROI.

By utilising this data, and other market data on international business school marketing trends, MMG and DUBS were able to demonstrate the potential long-term impact on student recruitment of continuing to operate with a restricted budget. This submission ultimately resulted in the DUBS marketing team having their full marketing budget restored for the 2020/2021 year.

50% marketing budget reduction

85% drop in attributable ROI

Short term budget reductions

Longer term impact on student recruitment funnel identified