Increasing Enrollment For MFA Programs Through An Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy

The Opportunity

BG was engaged to increase enrollment for the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), the only college devoted exclusively to graduate fine arts education offering artists and writers a transformative educational experience.

VCFA offers six MFA programs in Film, Graphic Design, Music Composition, Visual Art, Writing, and Writing for Children & Young Adults targeting those looking to further their practice, advance their careers, and join an artist community. Facing declining enrollment, BG was tasked with meeting enrollment goals among these core MFA programs and increasing brand awareness for VCFA among the artist community both regionally and nationally. This was combined with the change of its on-campus program residencies, an element of each MFA program curriculum, from its historic Vermont campus to a new campus at Colorado College, which was a challenge to overcome against those already familiar with VCFA.

The Strategy

BG implemented a multi-channel paid media strategy that incorporated new channel activations and reinvigorated the enrollment marketing funnel for VCFA with a significant shift away from a pure lead generation strategy used previously to a full-funnel conversion strategy aimed at increasing the number of quality applicants. With each program being uniquely positioned in the market and targeted towards prospective students at different points in their artistic journey, BG developed distinct paths to conversion with messaging targeting the right student for each program at different phases of their personal and professional lives. Throughout this process, BG also helped VCFA redefine the brand and visual identity for each program by redeveloping creative assets to be both implemented within paid campaigns as well as incorporated into organic and nurturing channels that are unique to each program. This included updating brand and ROI message points for each program with a particular focus on redefining VCFA’s position in market from a brand awareness perspective.

The Result

This ongoing campaign (which is now going into its 2nd year) is consistently supporting enrollment needs for each program. Between FY23 and FY22, overall applicant quality metrics have also increased — overall inquiries to started application conversion rate increased from 5% in FY22 to 22% in FY23, and inquiries to completed applications conversion rate jumped from 3% to 12%.