Having recently finished some copywriting work on a university prospectus (currently under wraps until it’s gone to print), we’ve got the bug for higher education marketing and have been sneaking a peak at other unis to see how copy and digital play a part in attracting new students. As we mentioned in our blog about the big ten London universities, 67% of students use social media when choosing a course, so it’s definitely clever to keep your digital channels in ship shape.
As a Leeds lad, born and bred in Yorkshire I thought I’d do some investigating into the website landing pages and Twitter bios of the three universities from my hometown: University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University (formerly Leeds Met) and last but not least, Leeds Trinity University.
Looking at the UK University League Table for 2015, out of the West Yorkshire based universities the University of Leeds is the highest ranked and stands in 28th place, Leeds Beckett University is 108th and in 111th place stands Leeds Trinity University.
1) Let’s start by having a butchers at the University of Leeds:
I was quite disappointed when I saw this website, since it’s the highest ranked out of the three but definitely doesn’t blow me away.
I’m no designer (I’ll leave Steve and his team to wade in on that side of things later) but I’m not keen on the overall look and layout of their site. There’s nothing very eye-catching other than that image of the clock tower. The type is far too small in my opinion. Ideally you want to see big, bold headings – something that’s going to grab your attention. But instead it all just feels dull and charmless. They know they’re already a top uni, so perhaps they don’t think a nice, colourful website is necessary.
If I were a prospective student, I’d be pretty confused right now about where I should be looking or why I should spend any more of my time checking them out.
I wonder what they’re social media site presence is like…
Okay, so you’re the official Twitter account for the University of Leeds and I’m a prospective student. Nice to meet you. Or is it? As soon as I get onto the official Twitter account you’re already redirecting me somewhere else: “Prospective students, see @ComingtoLeeds. Current students, see @UoLStudents.”
If prospective students are sent one way and current students another, who is this Twitter account actually for? Seems weird to me.
So University of Leeds, you’re top of the charts in terms of league tables, but certainly not top of my web-based research!
2) Next up is Leeds Beckett University which recently underwent a rebrand, changing their name from the tried and trusted ‘Leeds Metropolitan University’ to ‘Leeds Beckett University’. Apparently this was because they’d ‘outgrown’ the old name, which I reckon shows how (some) universities are trying to move with the times in order to attract the new generation.
Is Leeds’ second best university any better with their digital marketing?
Checking out their homepage, I would say yes, definitely. Look at how well they’ve used the space: the entire screen is filled and they’ve included big, high-res feature images in their four-frame carousel too. Everything fits the uni’s brand identity and instantly creates a connection with the visitor. The text is a nice size and grabs your attention immediately. Notice the use of arrows to direct you; you don’t have to make any decisions, they’ll tell you where to go.
You can instantly see a clear, bright pink call to action on the first page: ‘Apply now’. It’s like they’re saying ‘we’re the place for you and you know it, even though you’ve barely looked around the site.’ I’m more inclined to stay on this website and look around than the last one, as they’ve obviously put some thought into it, which gives you warm, cuddly feelings about the uni already.
So their website is pretty impressive, but are they worth following on Twitter?
So we know we’ve got the correct Twitter feed – “The official account of Leeds Beckett”. They reel us in with words like ‘world-class’ (although what does that really mean?), and ‘lively, friendly university’ makes it sound like a fun, sociable place to be, although surely any university could make the same claim.
3) Finally, Leeds Trinity University. They might be ranked 111th in the league table but they’re eighth in the country for assessment and satisfaction, with an overall 88% of students saying they’re satisfied with their course. Leeds Trinity might not be the most popular institution in the wild west (of Yorkshire), but how’s their digital marketing?
I’m sorry to say I think their website might just be the worst out of the three. Other than the logo, they don’t seem to have much brand identity at all. The site feels like it was put together pretty quickly without much design consideration.
There’s no consistency in typeface, or colour and size of text. It’s all a bit random, really, and the whole things feels amateurish – definitely not the impression you want to give anyone thinking of spending £9,000 to attend the uni. Certainly if you’ve got a prospective student interested in a creative or marketing course.
And how’s their Twitter game?
Bravo. They’re Twitter account is the best of the three. There’s a nice warm welcome and good use of a friendly exclamation mark! They’ve got a decent call to action, too: ‘follow us for news, events and other musings about student life’. Alright Leeds Trinity, don’t mind if I do.
It sounds like the Twitter feed’s going to be pretty fun to read, with the lighthearted copy telling us to look out for ‘musings’ instead of IMPORTANT CAMPUS UPDATES or the like. They’re obviously not super full of themselves. So good work Leeds Trinity. We shall indeed follow you and we look forward to hearing more musings about student life. Bring it on.
And the winner is…
So after several hours staring at university marketing collateral, here are my final thoughts:
In my humble opinion, I think Leeds Beckett University comes out on top after putting all three local unis under the microscope.
Their website’s by far the best and most modern. There’s no negative space; they make the most of the page with nice hero images, clear headers and some directional arrows to boot. There’s a call to action convincing you to sign up straight away, and they’re consistent with their brand identity.
Their Twitter ain’t bad either, painting more of a picture than the others with words like ‘world-class’, ‘lively’, and ‘friendly’, although there’s definitely room for improvement. Some more specific description in place of generic adjectives wouldn’t go amiss, for example.
But overall I salute you, Leeds Beckett Uni. You win the coveted ‘Bloodybigspider’s best Leeds university landing page and Twitter bio’ award. It’s in the post.