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Clearing 2022: A Guide to Getting Ahead Early On

This year will see the very first Clearing season since the end of the pandemic, meaning there’s brand-new strategies that are crucial to seeing a successful Clearing period. With sophisticated insights coming from our knowledgeable experts, you can implement an approach to Clearing that’ll produce the best results possible.

Learnings from 2021:

A solely virtual clearing saw an incredibly low average CPC compared with that in previous years. Before, the average CPC had a range between £20-£30 but during 2021 that value dropped to £5.03 on results day and £1.02 in the pre-clearing phase. This comes down to the pandemic where more students got accepted into their university of choice as they were granted their expected grades which allowed them to avoid Clearing altogether.

Last year’s Clearing also revealed to us that starting early is crucial for ROI. 30% lower cost per conversion was the average for the universities that starting their Clearing phase earlier in the year.

The most engaged channels were Google, Ecosia/Bing, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook/Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube, respectively.

Also, integrating innovation was shown to be paramount, last year. Generic and Branded search terms were 2.8x more likely drive conversions than course specifics.

Strategies for 2022 Clearing:

No.1 – Remember that Google is King, be competitive with your bidding strategy and target those generic and branded keywords. The way you should structure keywords should be the same for pre-clearing due to algorithm and previous searches.

No.2 – Start your clearing early for maximum impact. Don’t rely on results day, you want established connections with students early on. Over very recent years, only 1 to 2 students have contacted their initial institution during clearing, down from 2 to 3 in 2018, this means students are contacting fewer institutions than before. We recommend beginning pre-clearing from May to ensure your brand is front of mind early on.

No.3 – Every clearing is becoming more and more competitive. Use innovation to cut through the competition, TikTok is 7x more engaged than Facebook during clearing. Make sure you’re standing out from the crowd by integrating an innovative, omni-channel experience. This means using including platforms and media like Ecosia, Snapchat Filters, TikTok Live, WhatsApp and Instagram “add yours” to your campaign.

No.4 – Take a first party data approach. Changes to cookie policies and privacy online has accelerated a move away from third party cookies. With an uncertain future, the best way to ensure you’re reaching the right users is moving towards a first party data approach. This means focusing on lead generation at every opportunity – even in the pre-clearing phase. For the best results, have a clear call-to-action prepared and ready to go for all phases of your Clearing campaign.

No.5 – Implement GA4 for year-on-year analysis. The university analytics we know, and love will be shutting down for good and all the data will be lost, which means if you want to do year on year activity measurement and data tracking, GA4 is the solution. Both old and new are incomparable and are non-interoperable so the earlier you make the switch the better.

Identifying Audiences and Curating Value-Driven Content:

Different audiences require different techniques to gain attention and interaction. Non-traditional students, such as mature students are likely to apply before A-level results day and so they’ll have different concerns and priorities to the traditional students who respond best to a more traditional approach. Another group is parents and family members, they are far more likely to share valuable information, and might enquire and call on behalf of the student. Influencers like student ambassadors and teachers will also provide important information, but their time frame is slightly narrower as most of the effect of influencers leaves with them at the start of the summer holidays.

Creating true value needs a delicate balance of logic and emotion, therefore splitting the clearing period into distinct time frames will allow for the best possible case of communication with students.

Pre-Pre-Clearing – Not too much emphasis on clearing should take place here, you want to talk about excitement, facilities and capture attention. Capitalise on student testimonials and success stories, meet the lecturers, accolades and really push the emotion during this phase.

Pre-Clearing – Tactical releasement of tips on clearing, university prep and results day, along with a checklist for student accommodation will get the gears moving in a student’s mind, steering them in your direction. The play on emotion is still the best move here so utilise clearing success stories.

Clearing day – This is the time where the generic and branded terms work hugely in your favour. Get more logical and straightforward with your approach, get them to call and apply to really pump those numbers. Going Live on your media platforms will help skyrocket your engagement on the day so make sure to exploit this insight! Post-Clearing – It’s still not over at this point. Use the “It’s not too late” agenda and any relevant stories. You also need to make sure your clearing opportunities and hotlines

Key Takeaways:

  • Start early – students searching for generic and branded
  • Be innovative – keep an eye out for new innovations and social channels to show presence and increase engagement
  • Track effectively – Align your tracking with your objectives and make sure you’re keeping up to date with big tech changes.
  • Plan your content with audience in mind first
  • Know where they are in their consideration journey
  • Test and learn using multiple forms of content through different channels

Interested in what Unicom could do for your university? Get in touch today for a free, no-strings-attached chat.

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