Monash University on its personalisation journey and evolving approach to campaigns

Education institution has an ambitious project to provide unique user experience for those connecting with the university and has rolled out bold marketing campaigns to attract prospective studens

Monash University, borrowing from the retail approach to targeting and customisation, is now at the two-year mark on its five-year multi-channel personalisation and automation program.

The tertiary education provider's goal is to build a community around the university of past, present and future students who are advocates for Monash, thereby delivering a unique experience. Its CMO, Fabian Marrone, told CMO that by three years, every single person who communicates with Monash will have a completely unique experience regardless of the platform through which they interact, modified based on their individual needs.

To do this, Monash is using a highly targeted data segmentation model to understand the people it wants to attract to the university, then bring them through an augmented journey “which looks at micro conversions along the way", he said.

"It also continues to make them part of the Monash community as they progress through being a future student, current student, alumni and when they go out into industry and forge a deep connection," Marrone said.

The university starts its prospective student funnel through open days and has taken a bold approach to showcasing its research specialties to attract interested students. It recently launched its latest campaign, which centres on a simulated dystopian future featuring products and experiences that we may see in the future if the world doesn't change.

The university has chosen the ‘change’ theme to audiences to make a change with Monash. The central message is that Monash offers the ability and ambition to tackle global issues and improve future lives. 

Marrone told CMO the ‘Future without change’ campaign brings to life products like nutrient blocks for food, antidepressant cereal, facial pixelation technology and a domestic violence surveillance robot. It's the next evolution of its two previous campaigns in 2016 and 2018 and builds on those campaigns in two ways - how it’s executed and in the central message. 

“This campaign has evolved from our 2016 campaign which was question the answers and got people thinking about not just accepting the status quo," he said.

In addition, in 2018, the university launched an initiative around the theme 'If you don’t like it, change it', an unapologetic campaign to draw attention to global issues and demonstrate how education and research at Monash is contributing to solving these problems. 

"In [that campaign] it was really moving from a brand campaign to a call to action saying there’s a lot of things happening in the world and a lot of things saying we need change, and people can come to Monash to make that change through research and education," Marrone said.

Since the last campaign, the university has moved primarily digital, although Marrone said it's seeking to create a way to communicate with its community through a blended reality of physical, digital and virtual.

Read more: What Monash did to win in search engine marketing

"[The campaign] created an opportunity to do that in our largest user experience on Open Day and helps us get people in the physical environment of the future if we continue on this trajectory without intervention through research and education at Monash,” Marrone said.

The university will modify its 'future without change' campaign so it is authentic to the issues appropriate to launch in other markets around the world. 

The wider integrated marketing program, meanwhile, includes documentaries about a range of big picture topics with university experts addressing the issues, as well as individual videos featuring researchers or academics as agents of change through their work. Monash also operates an owned newsroom that published articles based on university research to match the newscycle and a digital communications platform.

“It’s a very integrated way of bringing to life the overall message of if you don’t like it, change it, which is our overall proposition,” Marrone added.

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