Moorlands College is a Christian theology and training institution, delivering FE and HE courses that are biblically based, academically rigorous and culturally relevant. With its main campus in Christchurch, Dorset and growing centres in the Midlands and Southwest UK, its graduates can be found serving hundreds of churches, missionary societies, youth organisations, schools and colleges all over the world.
“These insights will prove invaluable, as I'd always hoped they would! The research will help us to strategically shape and evolve many areas of our activity, and naturally we will be monitoring its long-term effectiveness.”
As the college considers its future brand and marketing strategy, it identified a need to more accurately define who its students (and potential students) are.
The research objective was to identify customer personas that represent the key customer (and target) segments, to enable the team at Moorlands College to gain deeper understanding of their market and to assist with decision making.
Our suggested approach
Moorlands College holds extensive information on its students, so firstly PFA Research carried out secondary analysis of this internal data to profile customers and identify the key segments, based on a number of attributes. Customer data was also broken down by type of student to provide a deeper level of insight and inform the primary research sample frame.
Qualitative research followed, to add a layer of understanding to the quantitative data. In-depth telephone interviews were conducted amongst a representative sample of students, allowing the decision making process and ‘customer journey’ to be mapped in detail, along with the key influencing factors. Further information on leisure and media habits was captured to inform future marketing communications.
Prospective students, alumni and referring church organisations were also sampled in the same way in order to analyse wider perceptions of Moorlands College and what would make a difference.
Outcomes of the research
The research identified two clear student segments and an under-represented group that could present an opportunity to the college. Themes that ran through the qualitative interviews were used to create hypothetical ‘customer personas’ that identified the key motivations and important factors on deciding where to study.
Case study examples were also provided to bring to light the decision making journeys that led students to enrol at Moorlands College (or not do so) – the factors they considered; what was most important to them; influences, influencers, expectations and crunch-points in choosing where and what to study.
How it made a difference
The research findings provided Moorlands College’s senior management team with an important evidence base to inform the development of strategic plans. In particular, better understanding of key customer segments and influencing factors will allow marketing activity to be targeted more efficiently and improve the effectiveness of communications content. A number of potential product and service developments were also identified which could enable Moorlands College to enhance its offer to prospective students.
Image: Jonathan Cherry