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Clearing 2021: What to expect & strategies for success

With teacher assessed grades, an earlier results day on August 10th and provisional grades set to be launched in June for Wales; Clearing 2021 will yet again be a year like no other. With 5 months to go until results day, universities need to prepare now to ensure their marketing plans cut through the competition over clearing. 

Learnings from clearing in 2020:

  1. Clicks were +10X cheaper than previous years – on average the CPC on Google in August was just £1.29 compared to £20-30 CPC on previous clearing days.


Continue to set your maximum CPC high on results day but prepare to be agile with your budget.

  • We received more calls from media than ever before – We saw up to 30% increases in calls from Google Search, with cost per call averaging at just £14.83 on results day.


Ensure you are using click to call adverts on Google and Facebook for maximum impact.

  • Tailor your call strategy timing – Getting your timings strategy right is critical to driving calls towards your hotline. For Russell Group Universities, many calls took place between 8am and 9am. For non-Russell Group Universities most calls were between 10am and 4pm with a peak at 1pm and 3pm.

Strategy: Up bids during peak call times for your institution to maximise impact.

  • Generic was more effective than course specific – Brand and Generic promotion accounted for over 90% of all clicks and calls on results day.


A pre-clearing strategy should be prepared so that your brand is associated with clearing before the event. It’s also recommended to share budgets on Google to ensure you are using your budget where students are searching.

  • Students shared, saved and commented socially – We saw an increase of 8x more shares in 2020 Clearing compared to the previous year.


Make your content valuable with helpful information e.g., free clearing advice, “what to expect at your first week at University” so students share, save and tag friends.

  • Parents were a critical audience in 2020 – Parents were consistently the most engaged audiences on social. During pre-clearing, parent audiences were 4x more likely to engage with social adverts than students. 


Ensure you are targeting parents as a separate audience in the run up to results day. 

Strategies from success in clearing 2021:

  • Start your pre-clearing early for maximum impact.
  • Consider a wales-specific campaign around provisional results day in June.
  • Use innovation to cut through the competition.
  • Find alternatives to website retargeting.
  • Do not forget the non-traditional student audience. 

Key takeaways:

  • Clearing 2021 is set to be as complex and competitive as ever before. 
  • Pre-Clearing is critical to success – start your campaigns early, include parents and use pre-clearing to build social retargeting audiences.
  • Identify opportunities in an unusual year – run campaigns around Wales’ provisional results date and target mature students.
  • Cutting through the noise will be critical to success so identify new innovation to test.
  • Plan early, be bold, and prepare to be agile.

Speak to us

At Unicom we’re highly knowledgeable about the education sector. For expert advice and support, for your digital marketing campaigns, get in touch with us today.

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