Salford University makes the most of The Student Room

A recent case study of an online campaign for Salford University on The Student Room and other social networks, providing an Insight into the benefits of both direct and ambient engagement with students online.

Agency: Penna Barkers
Client: Salford University
Campaign Dates: Sept’ 09 – January’ 10

Penna Barkers were set the task of targeting potential undergraduate students and driving traffic to a leading UK university’s website. To monitor their activity within the site and the number of resultant registrations on the University’s CRM system.

Penna Barkers implemented quality control tools throughout the campaign to ensure that customers were tracked and that the client benefited from maximum exposure to their target audience.

The problem with tracking online adverts and proving their origin is that many sites use ‘click through data’, which is somewhat flawed due to the fact that the client is unable to know if that click resulted in a purchase or how long the individual remained on their site. The other issue with click through data as a measure of success is that it doesn’t take into account users who navigate to the site independently as a result of seeing the advertising.

Penna Barkers however used a different method allowing them to track users whether they clicked on the advertising or not and so measure both the direct and ambient success of the campaign. The client also specified 6 critical pages that they ideally wanted students to land on and the tracking tools used were able to track this for each user that visited the site and had contact with the advertising.

Penna Barkers utilised 5 online domains to advertise Salford Uni, which they believed would provide their client with maximum exposure to their target audience; results are shown below:

The findings showed that over half of all visits as a result of online advertising came from The Student Room. Our members are more engaged when on The Student Room and so more likely to react to advertising that appeals to them.

In addition to this a large amount of TSR users visited the site independently, which proves the ambient effects of the advertising and brand recognition benefits of The Student Room. Anyone can click on an advert, even by accident in some cases however a consumer who notices the ad and independently navigates to it is instantly much more involved in the process. They have made a more conscious decision to act and so are more likely to engage with the content as has been shown by the high level of visits by TSR users to the 6 critical pages identified by the client.

The Student Room statistics collected during the campaign also showed that student discussion on The Student Room regarding the Salford University increased by 63% during the campaign period. This further supports how vital word of mouth can be to a campaign, often over and above the basic PPC data.


  • 50% of traffic to client site came from The Student Room
  • 300% more traffic from the The Student Room than Facebook, Bebo or Google
  • 84% of traffic from The Student Room engaged in all 6 target pages
  • Benefit from direct and ambient contact with customers
  • The Student Room members are more active web users and are more likely to engage with your adverts
  • Advertising on The Student Room created a 63% increase in discussion about the client across the 400+ forums
  • Ben Davies

    Did the University invest the same amount of money in each site that they advertised on?

    • Kailan

      Unfortunately we were unable to find out the spend with our competitors however if you would like to contact the agency who ran the campaign I can provide you with their details.
      I think the main point here though is not how much was spent but the quality of the conversions from The Student Room over other sites. Not only did a much higher number visit the site but those that did ended up on the important target pages that the client, Salford University, had identified.
      This is most probably due to the fact that The Student Room has a much higher percentage of the target audience for this campaign, which was potential undergraduate students.

  • Earnest E Murmu

    Can i study online in salford university for biomedical sourse?