Success Story:

The University of Pittsburgh

Crushing goals in unprecedented times

The Challenge

The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the United States with a legacy that sets it apart. Pitt was named the number one public university in the Northeastern United States in 2020 by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings, among many other top standings. The University of Pittsburgh was in need of a new digital marketing partner to elevate their yield efforts when they connected with MediaCross. They were looking for a partner who could focus intently on yield and provide them with meaningful reporting – but above all – they needed to reach their enrollment goal.

Our Solution

At the onset of our partnership, we recognized an opportunity for Pitt to refine their yield approach by using a high-touch segmented strategy, across multiple platforms. Our initial recommendation included multiple overlapping tactics to help reinforce the reasons students should attend Pitt in the fall – or, Commit to Pitt. Using the direct targeting methods of IP targeting and Facebook and Instagram advertising, we sought to reach accepted Generation Z students where they spent a good portion of their time - online. To further personalize the experience, a hallmark desire of most Gen Z students, we recommended using Facebook Messenger as a way to reinforce the Pitt brand following visits and other interactions with admissions staff.

The yield-focused digital marketing campaign launched in the early spring of 2020 using Pitt’s “Commit to Pitt” campaign creative and hashtag #H2P (Hail to Pitt) as a rally cry to drum up pride and engage students. Pitt knows the importance of brand consistency throughout the course of the funnel, and together we made sure the digital ad messaging was aligned with the corresponding tactical implementation. For example, when IP Targeting, we separated the audience by area of interest and used appropriate next step calls-to-action based upon their status, so the encounter was relevant to each student. Social media ads were used to reinforce the reasons why a student should “Commit to Pitt”, and we doubled up with Facebook Messenger ads to create a personal connection. Secondary social campaigns were created to target parents/guardians on key topics like value and outcomes, as influencers weigh in heavily on final enrollment decisions.

And when COVID-19 hit the United States, we were quick to pivot our strategy and messaging to align with the rapidly changing environment, moving from pushing traditional in-person interaction between Pitt and students, to a 100% virtual decision-making process. Relying heavily on social media marketing, we developed messaging for students to engage in the new virtual visit options, as well as provide information on the COVID-19 vaccine research the University of Pittsburgh is conducting.

Our effective strategy worked quickly to demonstrate results. The success resulted in additional digital support for Pitt – in the areas of transfer application generation, summer melt prevention, and replicating our work with the main campus to move the needle with University of Pittsburgh’s three regional campuses.


Our Results

Through a carefully curated campaign plan, MediaCross not only met Pitt’s baseline deposit goal but exceeded their stretch goal – all amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19. Not only was our campaign impactful and led to surpassing the deposits needed, we launched the efforts in a condensed timeline and saw results at record speed. MediaCross and Pitt attribute our stand-out success to running a yield campaign that through segmentation achieved a level of personalization Gen Z is accustomed to.

Segmented Strategy

MediaCross’ campaign was highly segmented, leading to relevant and personalized advertising to admitted students.

Connected Campaign

The tactical implementation of our yield strategy was planned so that tactics would build off of each other leading to greater exposure and conversion.

Exceeding the goal, fast

In a short three months, MediaCross exceeded the campaign goal, resulting in an enrollment increase of 5% YOY.

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Molly Swagler
Executive Director of Enrollment Outreach
Assistant Vice Provost for Enrollment
University of Pittsburgh
When you work with MediaCross, you get a responsive strategic team who is ready to go the extra mile in order to move the needle.

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