The Good Project Graveyard [Part 2]

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Analytics, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Research, Thoughts, Video, YouTube | Posted on 11-25-2008


When we last left off, a video project got sent to the good project graveyard, never to be seen again.

That’s not what this post is about.  This is about a video that survived. Why? It didn’t go to the dreaded committee, I just did it.

Looking at our comm flows, there is really no communication between when the application is submitted (Nov 15 deadline) and when the decisions are mailed (Dec. 17).  Isn’t this a great time for a touch point with a student? When they are just sitting around, wondering what’s going on with their app at your school?

So I decided to put a video together. I called Megan, a counselor and blogger, and told her what I wanted to do. 15 minutes later, we were ready to roll.  I grabbed the Kodak Zi6 and went up to her office.

The premise of the video would be this: Here’s what happens to your application after you submit it. Pretty simple, keep it around 2 minutes. No script, just say what you would say to a student if they asked what happened.  So we went around the office to various areas that an application will travel through, and filmed the video. We did the whole thing in 1 take.

Total filming time: 10 minutes
Total downloading/converting time: 15 minutes
Total editing time: 15 minutes
Total uploading to YouTube time: 15 minutes

Boom.  A fully ‘produced’ video in under one hour. So the next step was to get it in front of the students.  I put together an email, wrote the copy, designed it, and took it to my boss and said “I want to send this to everyone who has applied before the Nov 15th deadline.” She took a look at it, didn’t see anything that needed to be changed, and approved it. Alright!

The email was designed with the video as the call-to-action, and when the video is clicked the URL directs the student to our area, where a post with the video was placed. So here is the email, the video, and the results.

The Email

The Video

1,303 views as of this post (the video has been live for 7.5 days, the email was sent 4.5 days ago). 2nd most viewed video on the Butler Bloggers YouTube channel.

The Results

99.1% emails were successfully sent.
There were 2,205 unique opens (52.3%). There were 3,391 total opens.
There were 1,157 unique clickthroughs (27.4%). So, 52.4% of those who opened the email also clicked through. (I like this measurement better than clickthroughs/sends.)
There were 1,444 total clickthroughs. (42.5% of total clickthroughs out of total opens)

The Analytics

YouTube Insights provides this nifty graph of the hotspots in the video. (Click to enlarge)

Google Analytics tells me what happened after we got them there.

The Feedback

I sent the video around to the office as well.  Everyone loved it and gave good comments and feedback on it.  The students who I’ve talked to that have seen the video also enjoyed it and found it helpful.

The ‘Next Time’

I see in Analytics that students did not stick around long on average.  Pages/Visit, time on site, and bounce rate are all way off the average mark for the site. I had put some links above the video to try and engage them in the BUForums more, but they seemed interested in the video only.  My Hot Spots tell me that the ‘dark scene’ was where I lost most students.  Maybe I could cut the video to 1:30 and leave out the part about the BUForums and Bloggers since they were already there?

In all, I consider this project worthwhile.  2 hours from idea to implementation, 25% of our app pool found out what happens to their app, and our BUForums increased by nearly 100 new students. Those who did stick around after the video are now getting more questions asked. The video avoided the good project graveyard and was successful.

As always, comments, suggestions and thoughts are appreciated. Leave a comment!

Comments posted (10)

This is a great idea, and it proves you can create some good, useful content quickly…assuming the powers that be sign off on the unpolished look.

It passes the authenticity test until the ‘dark scene’, which feels more like ‘marketing to’ rather that ‘talking with’, so I can understand why viewers would drop out then. I think they can smell that kind of thing a mile a way.

I’ve got to get one of those cameras. Nice work!

I really like the idea for the video. That’s a great way to keep students connected and interested during that (kinda stressful for them) time when they aren’t sure where things are at with the school.

Also, I agree, it’s easiest to do things on your own. Then tell your boss after the fact for the final approval. They’re more likely to give approval when they see the finished product than when you are trying to describe what your plan is, which can often stress them out . . . leading to the graveyard effect! When they see that everything is safely complete and looks good, they feel happy. When they hear the idea and maybe don’t understand exactly how it will go from idea to completion, they feel nervous and start creating committees, etc.

Very impressive stats….but I’m curious as to why you like open rate better than click through rate or click-to-open rate?

Sorry if I wasn’t clear above. I prefer taking clickthroughs/opens rather than clickthroughs/successful deliveries.

We’ve talked about this before, I’m just horrible with my email lingo :)

gotcha….so you prefer click-to-open rate rather than click through rate. i wholeheartedly agree :-)

again, seriously impressive stats….how does this compare to other campaigns you do?

Dear Brad,

Thanks for sharing the video as well as the “behind the scenes” info (although since the video is already of the “behind the scenes” genre, maybe your explanation is “behind behind?”) :-)

Please tell Megan that she’s a natural!

I’ve added the video to the College Lists wiki “From the File Room” page (, as I think it’s not just current Butler applicants who would be interested.

Brad – another great case for “just do it.”

Ok, now we’ve got the camera … next step – do SOMETHING! Well, something worthwhile, that is. Thanks for always sharing you ideas

Very, very cool. I sent the link to a few people at our school, because we always seem to get the question “Why does it take so long to hear back from my application?”

Great idea and execution! I have often practiced the philosophy of ‘it is easier to apologize than ask permission’. And what’s better is, if you do it right, you have nothing to apologize for and end up with kudos instead.

[...] I see people calling a click-to-open rate a click through rate (I’m pointing at you Brad J. Ward!) It’s an unintentional mistake, but when it happens it amounts to comparing apples to [...]

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