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Hello Future

Won North East Marketing Award for Digital Campaign of the Year 2019

Established in 2017, Hello Future is a partnership of local universities, colleges and employers who are committed to improving access to higher education for disadvantaged young people in Cumbria.

They offer guidance and practical support to help young people with future decision making and choices but they were struggling to reach their large, diverse, remote target audience through unpaid channels.

We partnered with them to raise awareness of the Hello Future programme amongst their target audience: young people, their parents/guardians, and teachers/advisors.

Our objectives

  • Upskill current staff in the use of social media and ensure that we are utilising all opportunities to engage the target audience (young people and their parents and carers)
  • Help us to design a sustainable campaign that is both informative and relevant for engaging the target audiences, using an appropriate style and format
  • Maximise and increase our social media presence / followers
  • Promote the Hello Future programme within the wider community and increase event bookings
  • Promote positive HE messages, challenge perceptions and increase awareness on HE options locally and further afield

We implemented the following research to design a campaign which used a range of interactive content and advertising, and demonstrated customer insight and relevance to its target audience. Narrative initially undertook research in to young people’s perceived barriers to higher education and found:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Lack of awareness/confusion about options
  • Not thinking far enough ahead
  • Cultural barriers
  • Financial barriers
  • Perception that HE is only for those who excel in academic subjects.

The campaign had to focus on both young people (aged 13-19) and their parents and carers (aged 35-45) in Cumbria using a range of interactive content and advertising that was relevant and engaging for each group.

Narrative found that the younger target audience’s attitude and motivation towards HE was an issue that needed to be identified and addressed in the campaign. When asked where young people received career advice or HE recommendations, personal and professional recommendations was the most popular answer and therefore the importance of testimonials, case studies and ‘people like you’ messaging needed to shine through in the campaign.

Primary research was also undertaken with the parent/carer group in Cumbria (online random sample survey) and Narrative found:

  • 76% of parents saw HE as an option for their child/children
  • Most respondents felt that their children would hear about HE options from a teacher, family member or online search
  • When asked which institutions they thought of for their children, the answers were very local and included universities and one college.

As a whole, the region has a lower proportion of level 3 and 4 qualifications amongst the working age population than the rest of the UK, alongside a much higher proportion of basic (level 1) qualifications than elsewhere, it was deemed important to educate parents and carers on the benefits of HE.

We needed to utilise social media channels which would target young people, but also their influencers. We therefore decided on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Activity implemented during the partnership:

  • Social media training onsite from Narrative team
  • Social media policy and user guides provided for the Hello Future team
  • LinkedIn account opened for engaging with teachers and parents and YouTube channel launched for engagement with younger people
  • Instagram photo challenge to engage young people
  • Instagram stories case studies with students and graduates
  • Weekly social media plans
  • Identification and engagement with influencers such as MPs, senior lecturers and education media
  • Design work for marketing collateral, website and social media assets
  • Branded graphics busting HE myths
  • Promoted Facebook posts (paid)
  • YouTube pre-roll video adverts
  • A Facebook Live series with lecturers, students and graduates
  • Click tracking set up across the site to enable marketing attribution.

We implemented activities that the brand had never used before including Facebook Live videos, YouTube content and advertising, and added more structure and strategy to the social media outputs from the brand. Narrative created (text and design), collated and posted content on the client’s behalf, sending a content plan ahead of each week for approval. There were also reactive posts and a 24-hour ‘customer service’ process implemented too. We identified and engaged with influencers such as MPs, senior lecturers and education media. Narrative created and posted content, sending a content plan for approval each week. We also implemented reactive posts and operated a 24 hour ‘customer service’ process.


We met or exceeded most KPIs and we thoroughly discussed each result to look at reasons we believed they exceeded or didn’t meet the targets.

  • Website traffic increased from 3% per month on average to 33% per month during our work with Hello Future.
  • The under 25s who visited the website during the campaign were 100% new to the site showing that we reached a new young audience.
  • We also repeated the survey of parents in Cumbria and the percentage of parents who thought higher education was an option for their child rose by nearly 10% compared to the survey before the campaign.
  • The percentage of those who thought careers advice was available on websites and social media also rose nearly 5% which may be attributed to the extended reach of social media and digital advertising during this campaign.
  • The number of universities mentioned in the final questions rose from 12 to 14 but also the breadth increased to include Cambridge and Loughborough which shows that aspirations may have been widened.
  • The promoted Facebook posts reached 10 times more people than the organic posts which meant that the campaign reached more young people and parents/carers than before the campaign.

One of the key objectives for the client was also to learn about what content the user group were interested in so that content planning could be better informed across all channels, on and offline. Finance, careers planning and case studies were the most popular content and this will be reflected at events, on the client’s blog and in their social media content in future.

Similarly, the parent age group (35-44) stayed on the site for nearly 4 minutes which was four times longer than the under 25s.

One of the key outputs of the campaign was the creation of a new website using all of the information that had been gathered. The data we had, showed that the audiences weren’t consuming much information on the site or using the resources as much as they could do. The bounce rate was high and the navigation made it difficult to find what the user wanted so we recommended a new website was designed and built with collaboration and experience fed in from both internal and agency teams.

The new site appeals to teachers, parents and young people and contains more relevant content. It also includes improved graphics and photographs to improve the digital presence of the brand and it was built to be highly trackable – allowing Hello Future to measure what’s working and iterate over time. The platform is future-proof and flexible – allowing the website to evolve with the Programme.

The site launched in June 2019 and we are recording conversion rates four times larger than the old site for leads and event bookings.

The client said:

“Working with Narrative has been extremely positive for us all. The detail of the proposal they created set us off to a great start, this was followed by open and purposeful meetings that lead to a very effective working relationship. Narrative implemented ideas and approaches that we had not previously considered, bringing a fresh feel to our social media platforms. The campaign really boosted the reach of our programme through a well-structured schedule of relevant and engaging content.

“Most importantly, for us Narrative worked closely with us to raise our understanding of social media and its place in communicating with our target audience. They provided valuable data and analytics on our target audience at what is and is not working, and supported us in the creation and implementation of our future social media plans; this ensured the sustainability of our investment.

“We now have a greater audience to work with but more importantly the knowledge and skills to really drive our online communications.”

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