Success Story:

The Theatre School at DePaul University

Increasing Applications by Connecting with Niche Audiences

The Challenge

The Theatre School at DePaul University (The Theatre School) is an intensive conservatory that offers students both Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees, with programs in Design/Technology, Performance and Theatre Studies in an intimate ensemble environment. The Theatre School, which enrolls approximately 390 students annually, is the Midwest region’s oldest theatre conservatory. It’s one of the top professional theatrical training programs in the United States. With the competitive nature of the school, they seek to find and attract top-quality applicants for their new and existing niche theatre programs.

Our Solution

MediaCross started our work with The Theatre School by leveraging digital marketing and providing strategy to identify and engage talented students vying for spots in highly competitive conservatories and other top-tier programs. As The Theatre School grew and evolved, we expanded our efforts to refresh their recruitment collateral to better position them among the most prestigious theatre schools in the nation.

Digital Marketing

Our partnership began with a highly segmented digital marketing campaign, which focused on pushing students through the funnel. The BFA campaign launched in the summer of 2016 by geotargeting students attending distinguished theatre arts camps and specialized college fairs, thus priming the funnel for fall recruitment. From that point forward, we deployed a series of digital tactics which worked in concert with one another to convey key characteristics about each students’ program of interest, financial aid offerings and the career benefits of studying in Chicago. Our campaign efforts were targeted using IP matching, PPC advertising and social media to inform students of The Theatre School’s unique value proposition and kept them engaged through ongoing, strategic retargeting on a dynamic landing page and The Theatre School’s website.

To account for the longer enrollment cycle for the MFA programs, we took a long-term approach knowing these working professionals needed compelling reasons to pause their career and relocate to Chicago. Through retargeting, list sourcing and buying, IP targeting, pay-per-click and social media advertising campaigns, including mobile-optimized video campaigns, we focused on attracting new students while re-engaging those who had already shown interest.

Recruitment Collateral

After becoming The Theatre School’s trusted digital marketing partner, we expanded our work to include an award-winning print ad development and recruitment marketing collateral creation. A key piece was a new travel guide, which took shape as a folded poster that invited students to “peek behind the curtain.” Newly designed program brochures were then neatly tucked within the folds of the poster to customize packets given to students while recruiters were on the road. This stand out piece, with a colorful, saturated design, helped the admissions team build affinity with prospective students by personalizing encounters with students and parents.

For recruitment travel, large pop-up banners were designed to bring the student journey experience on the road.

A suite of digital advertisements supported a comprehensive and highly segmented digital marketing campaign.

To promote the launch of a new high school summer program, which could serve as a feeder program for prospective students, MediaCross created a postcard and print ad.

To garner additional interest around the niche Wig & Makeup and Theatre Technology programs, MediaCross created a postcard which could be used as a stand-alone recruitment piece or also be tucked into the larger poster/ envelope.

Inserts detailing the bachelors and master’s programs were created as a companion piece to our digital marketing efforts and helped to streamline the student experience.

The Results

Year over year, we achieve our goal of attracting more applicants. This success, and the trust built with The Theatre School, has led us to establish additional marketing partnerships at DePaul University to include The School of Music and The School of Cinematic Arts.

Better Targeting

Since partnering with MediaCross, total applications have steadily increased and the admitted student rate has increase showing that we are generating more qualified applicants.

Increased Application Yield

When served IP targeting, the people on the list that were served the ads were 45.8% more likely to apply than the group that did not get our ads.

Award Winning Work

Our work with The Theatre School has been recognized by the Education Advertising Awards twice – winning Gold for our Slate-integrated landing page and Gold for the influencer-focused magazine advertisement.

Increased Brand Awareness

Our award-winning influencer ad was published in well-known theatre publications, including American Theatre Magazine, Theatre Design & Technology, and more, increasing brand awareness.

Versatile Design

The Theatre School embraced our new creative direction, using our designs to promote their BFA and MFA programs beyond digital marketing.

Content that Resonates

The average display marketing CTR across all BFA programs has grown from .14% to .29%, indicating that our ad content is resonating with The Theatre Schools’ target audience.

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Tracee Duerson
Director of Admissions
The Theatre School at Depaul University
Partnering with MediaCross has opened up a whole new world of marketing opportunities for The Theatre School at DePaul University. With their help, we’ve created robust digital and social marketing campaigns that have bolstered existing programs as well as created a strong marketing plan for new niche programs and initiatives.

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