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How we helped a university meet their annual pre-grad student application target.

Other great work

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdown in March 2020, had an immediate negative impact on Nelson Mandela University’s 2021 student recruitment practices. With restrictions limiting face-to-face interactions, the University could no longer rely on their traditional recruitment processes, which were primarily focused on open days, campus tours, school visits and national career day exhibitions.

The University needed a solution to ensure they reach their 2021 application targets by the application closing date. At the same time, we were also asked to empower the University’s student recruitment team through a skills transfer solution, enabling them to implement new recruitment tactics in years to come.

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The results


Over R1,1 million

in PR coverage


4,7 million

social media and AdWords impressions


113 566

website page visits



conversion rate

The solution

Digital was the obvious solution to reach, connect and engage with potential applicants and their influencers (parents/guardians, teachers and communities). The 4-month digital campaign was supported with a radio advertising campaign, a public relations campaign and direct marketing.


Our campaign first focused on developing content and a creative concept, with information that learners would find valuable, especially during the lockdown period when many were unsure whether they should still enrol for tertiary studies or not. Content consisted of articles, social media posts, videos, images and infographics.


The art direction for this campaign involved converting beautiful images of the University, its surroundings and its people into a series of hand-drawn illustrations. Almost 100 unique, illustrations were created throughout the campaign. These doodled representations helped prospective students identify with the brand and the campaign.

Website Optimisation

The campaign was anchored by the application page on the University website, which underwent considerable SEO restructuring and had content added to capture and engage with potential applicants. Hashtags were created to link all content back to the application page.

Apply online page views: 2 534 525
Session duration: 11:15 (Industry average: 2,5)
Study@Mandela page views: 113 566
Video Production

A series of videos was created to encourage prospective students to consider the University as their first choice for their 2021 studies. Areas of focus included the application process, available courses and the campuses. The videos were used as part of the social media campaign and as YouTube ads.

Digital Marketing

The digital campaign, consisting of social media, Google advertising, SEO, public relations and direct marketing, focused on providing relevant and valuable content, while driving applicants to the application page where they were converted into applications.

Display Ads

Conversions: 6257
Click through rate: 0,86% (Industry Average: 0,2%)

Search Campaign

Conversions: 29 538
Click through rate: 28,07% (Industry Average: 3,17%)

Direct Marketing

A database of 114 045 potential applicants was developed during the campaign. Through a direct email and SMS campaign they were encouraged to visit the University website to complete the application form.

Average open rate: 47% (Industry average: 21%)
Click-through rate: 35% (Industry average: 2,5%)
Social Media

The social media campaign focused on posts with engaging and informative content, linked to a lead page where potential applicants were captured and directly targeted through an email and SMS campaign. Using a Facebook lead form, over 15 000 additional leads were generated and inserted into a direct marketing workflow.

Total leads generated: 9 244
Total post impressions: 2 917 759

The campaign was supported with a radio campaign to reach prospective students living in remote areas, where internet access is limited or not available.

Total audience size: 3 141 000
Public Relations

A PR campaign, with a series of press releases and media interviews, positioned the University as a thought leader on the topic of 2021 university applications and pre-graduate studies.

Over R1,1 million in PR Coverage

What our client had to say...


Our engagements with Stratitude have been exceptional. They have delivered excellent work and we have been able to yield outstanding results in a period filled with much uncertainty, within the diverse and unequal markets that Nelson Mandela University service.

Chantal Janneker
Senior Director: Communication and Marketing
Nelson Mandela University




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