Client Feature: Bow Valley College
I recently celebrated my 10 year anniversary at Vovia, and I find myself reflecting a lot these days. Much has changed over these years, but there have been a few constants—one of which, being our partnership with Bow Valley College. Bow Valley was my first big client at the agency, and it has been an absolute privilege helping them grow, evolve, and expand in extraordinary ways over this time.
This is especially true in recent years, as Bow Valley has revitalized their brand and expanded into fascinating new programming, all while creating amazing pathways to support the student journey at every step of the way.
What’s extra special about this client relationship is the amount of trust and data sharing that we have established. In fact, we have effectively integrated student registration data with our media campaigns and dashboards in order to arrive at a cost/registration and cost/application KPI – something that ties the marketing and media directly to the main business goals of this institution. Since establishing this metric and dashboard in 2021, we have seen a 55% improvement in cost/application and a 63% improvement in cost/registration; metrics and results that we were previously essentially blind to. Not only has this helped us optimize our media and marketing efforts, it has given a tangible and clean line of sight into the value that the investment brings to the college and its stakeholders.
Today I sat down with my client partner and good friend, Ricky Zayshley – Marketing Manager at Bow Valley College, to catch up on all the cool and innovative things that Bow Valley has been up to lately.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Bow Valley?
My role as the marketing manager at Bow Valley College is quite dynamic. In my previous job, I was the editorial director at a PR agency. We were super scrappy and were very entrepreneurial, and when I made the move to the education space people warned me that I wouldn’t be challenged and my creative juices would stop flowing. But the exact opposite has happened. I’ve never had such a challenging, fun, and rewarding role. The marketing team at Bow Valley College works a bit like an in-house agency. My team oversees the partner portfolios, manages college-wide events, and manages all paid advertising, so there’s never a dull moment. And I’m so proud of the work the entire Marketing & Recruitment team has done at Bow Valley College.
How long have you been with Bow Valley?
My career started at Bow Valley College as the Senior Communications Strategist on March 17, 2020, which was the day Alberta declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic. It was a wild time, but also a remarkable time to see how amazing the college is from an employee perspective. Everyone stepped up to ensure the students didn’t miss a beat. It was incredible to see. I’ve been the Marketing Manager since June 2022.
What are your biggest goals for Bow Valley College?
My two biggest goals at Bow Valley College are to increase overall awareness of the Bow Valley College brand and increase applications and enrollment. But with that, other equally important goals arise like making our campaigns meaningful and relatable to our audiences. Are we inclusive? Are we providing meaningful content to the right people? What is the prospective student journey like? When Bow Valley College refreshed its brand in 2021, we identified five core values: respect, creativity, inclusion, resilience, and teamwork. I try to ladder up everything I do at the college to these values – there’s always room for improvement.
How would you describe the Vovia/BVC relationship?
I really can’t say enough about how amazing the Vovia/Bow Valley College relationship is. We’re so aligned in our goals and so trusting of each other, it feels like Vovia is truly part of the Bow Valley College team.
Actually, I like to joke that Vovia has been part of Bow Valley College longer than lots of the employees at Bow Valley College. And it’s true! That’s special and a lifesaver for me. Vovia holds so much organizational memory, and their insight is so valuable from a day-to-day and historic aspect. The Vovia team never misses a beat. They’re so energized and welcome all my little quirks with open arms.
Anything new and exciting on the horizon for Bow Valley College?
There’s always something exciting on the horizon at Bow Valley College. One of the developments I’m most excited about is the new Calgary Entertainment Arts Production Hub or CEAPH for short. The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund will be investing up to $5.5 million into the hub. It will be a world-class facility right here at Bow Valley College that will not only benefit our students but will also act as a creative arts ecosystem to help grow careers and companies in the creative industries. It will be very exciting to help bring CEAPH to market.
If you could describe Vovia in one word, what would it be?
Would it be too cute to say, friends?
Bow Valley College Case Study
We’ve been working with Bow Valley for over 9 years, and have helped grow their business significantly over this time. What started with a decentralized model in 2014 – running separate digital campaigns and projects for 9 different schools within Bow Valley, moved to an integrated and centralized model in 2019 based on campaign success and media efficacy. Budgets were increased significantly, leading to more advanced media executions; Vovia was subsequently trusted with full media planning and execution for the college from that time forward.
With much larger budgets being invested this past fiscal year, Vovia had to think outside the box and find ways of executing on that investment in such a way that would be complementary to all schools, while still building the Bow Valley brand, and ultimately, meeting registration targets. Vovia completed comprehensive media planning, with different goals and targets for each of the 11 schools that make up Bow Valley, targeting mature learners and a variety of other audiences in Western Canada. In addition to proven channels like SEM, paid social and OOH, Vovia developed an RFP process for integrated media partnerships with media providers, that would allow us to amplify this investment through value adds and bonusing, and get the Bow Valley brand into mass media channels such as TV, and Radio.
In addition to this successful media planning, which extended the investment significantly, our long standing relationship and trust that we have built with Bow Valley unlocked actual student application and registration data, with which we could optimize the campaigns with. This trust, collaboration, and analytical integration allowed us to develop two new metrics to evaluate media; cost/application and cost/registration.
Over the past fiscal year (2022-23), we have driven a 33% increase in applications across the College at a 2% lower cost/application, as well as a 43% increase in student registrations at a 9% lower cost/registration. Also worth noting that when comparing the 2021-22 fiscal, we had already driven an 88% improvement in cost/application, and we continue to optimize these results by the day.
The best campaigns and executions are always the most collaborative ones, and the tale of Bow Valley is a shining example of what is possible when a village comes together. It has been an honour to be a part of the Bow Valley transformation, and we push forward with great excitement as the Bow Valley star continues to rise.