Data is everywhere. Sifting it to find those golden, actionable insights and bringing them to life with effective strategies is the key challenge for today’s marketers. In a student recruitment field marked by decreased attention and ever-stricter guidelines on targeting and tracking, connecting Universities with potential students is only getting tougher.

The key is to get good at leveraging reliable and relevant data and smart tools to build even smarter recruitment campaigns.

How do we make that happen in practice?

Firstly we must recognise that students, too, grapple with data overload. The constant attention-demand of brand advertising can have adverse effects on individuals’ mental well-being. This widespread problem is acute among young people shaping their personal identities in a high-pressure digital environment. 

We must approach data capture and acquisition responsibly, while also providing something of value in return to engage equitably with students. By providing value throughout the recruitment conversation, institutions can build trust and develop healthy and constructive relationships with their new students.

Before they’ve even walked through the doors…

Use attention and UX tools to capture valuable data 

Being remembered is what all brands want. Universities are no different. But to stick in the mind you need to earn people’s increasingly scarce attention. To quantify that attention data to feed your campaign optimisations, we use tools that audit your on-site experience and ensure your digital real estate is being used as effectively as possible.

Capturing data from powerful AI-powered tools, like Attention Insights gives a better understanding of what optimisations will make the biggest difference when it comes to taking a user through the online experience, guiding them along and helping them convert.

Tools like HotJar show us where website visitors focus their attention, offering insights to inform repositioning of key elements, such as headlines or calls-to-action, to enhance visibility and success of student data exchange.

Attention shouldn’t feel abstract. It’s a powerful metric to inform how we nurture students through the funnel. What subject lines we test, which call-to-actions we use on the website, and where they place to improve the experience. There’s no wasted attention with a hero image that takes up the top of the page and tells the user exactly what they need to do. 

Taken collectively, these tiny nudges contribute to an impressive, effective and trusted brand experience for the young people who need to know about you. 


Planning for attention: aipXa

At Anything is Possible our media planning optimises towards media placements that hold the viewer’s attention – and forms meaningful connections with prospective students. We have our own Expected Attention Model – aipXa – to quantify, predict and maximise the attention-value of the media placements we use.

Because not all media are made equal. A sponsored ad in the middle of your favourite prime time TV show does hot have the same value as an in-stream social ad you thumb past while doom scrolling through your daily commute. But traditional media metrics will register both ads as ‘an impression’ – while ignoring the impression they leave.

aipXa is our answer to this problem. We validate and synthesise data from trusted, marketing-leading suppliers (e.g. Lumen, DoubleVerify, Amplified Intelligence and IAS) and our own consumer research to level the playing field and grade each type of media according to its attention value. It helps us understand the expected attention (measured in seconds of active attention) that each placement should deliver for the campaign. Including aipXa as a core planning metric helps determine which channels, formats and tactics are most effective on a cost-per-attention basis.

This model also flexes to account for the audience we are speaking to. For young audiences picking their first-choice university, a TikTok from a verified institution might hold more attention than a TV ad that barely registers while that same young person is on their second screen.


Meeting the need for speed 

A recent survey by Keystone highlights the effectiveness of rapid response when it comes to students hearing from universities. Over 23,800 students from 195 countries were asked about improving university communications – and speed of response ranked as the top priority (24%).

An astounding 62% of students now expect universities to respond within 24 hours or less, up from 21% since 2022. Swift communication is vital to meet the heightened expectations of today’s time-poor students. It shows the student that the institution sees their application as important, and is another vital builder of trust.

Moving quickly and meeting these students where-they-are means also reducing your reliance on emails. Can you use push notifications, messaging apps or a Chatbot instead? 


Decision-backed data

Making sure we’re utilising the right data, in the right way, is the only way we’ll make sure the decisions we make are the ones that will make the biggest difference. Attention is not a new concept for data capture but how we use it as part of our analytics toolset is key for helping university recruitment marketing level up in an aggressive marketplace.

Ultimately, we must always be asking ourselves if we’re giving new students the most valuable experience and earning the right to their attention in the first place.


If you’re ready to improve your higher education marketing to capture and leverage data in an authentic way that really speaks to your potential recruits – connect with us to explore how we can transform your approach.