Born out of Amsterdam, StuDocu is a service that offers study materials to college students. Their guides and notes are created and crowdsourced by over 6 million students globally. Their platform is widely popular in Europe – but when it came to tackling the expansive U.S. market, they had a slower start. StuDocu needed a breakthrough to warm up the notoriously chilly Gen Z student body. With final exams top of mind for college students finishing out their Fall semester, we knew it’d be the right time for StuDocu to expand their brand awareness and increase new users.

After StuDocu identified 20 campuses across the country where they wanted to grow their presence, our team got to work introducing students to their new, much-needed study buddy.

The Challenge

Building legitimacy

Online study helpers causing controversy

Some other Online Study Helpers were making headlines for going beyond study help. Accusations of plagiarism and enabling cheating on other platforms tend to impact all study platforms. StuDocu’s commitment to high ethical standards and core educational values had to come across and set them apart from the crowd.

Student trust is essential

The platform only works if there’s student buy-in: all messaging has to clarify that content was by students for students. The collaborative spirit of the platform fosters trust amongst new users that the notes are trustworthy and legit: StuDocu can be your eyes and ears in the lecture hall.

The student-student connection also ramps up awareness for the brand – students talk and share resources for success, whether they’re at the bar, the library or a group study sesh.

The Objectives

Our objective was to create buzz around Studocu’s digital platform that attracted new traffic to their site.

The Strategy

Audience targeting

Three student profiles

Every student is different, but when they need study help? Yeah, we can usually figure out why. Pulling from user data and qualitative expertise offered by real collegiate faculty we have here on staff at Big Sea, we built distinct personas to perfect our messaging and targeting:

  1. The Competitor is active in athletics, clubs and extracurriculars, often at the expense of study time. That’s got to be made up somehow.
  2. The Worker is probably a part-time student with a job outside of school. They might be in a work-study program that pays for tuition. Time and energy? Worth their weight in gold.
  3. The Dean’s Lister might as well be called “Best in Show.” You can spot them sitting at the front of the class, laptop out, hand up, determined to set the curve by raising the bar on their study strategies.

The connective tissue

So what’s the common factor? Where do the personas converge?

Regardless of differences, these students are incredibly tech-savvy. Gen Z is the iPad baby gen, raised on devices and connectivity. Yet, despite being children of the digital age–or maybe because of it– Gen Z often craves authenticity and substance alongside bold style. To reach them, you need to strike that balance.

The value of a bit of cheek

Gen Z = salty vibes only. So a hard sell? Not going to work with them. They can smell sponsored content a mile away. And if your plan is to disrupt their doom scrolling with a targeted ad, your messaging better be cleverer, your visuals bolder. That’s why we designed our creative with grit, texture, and volume.

The Tactics

Programmatic display ads

Starting with 20 campuses across the U.S., we focused on anything and everything Digital. Programmatic was our best ally: we geotargeted the campuses and then retargeted to students when they trotted across the country for Thanksgiving break.

We leveraged Display, Social, and Out-of-Home to surround students with multiple touchpoints. By ensuring students interact with StuDocu off campus, we help the brand become more than just part of their school day–it becomes part of their life.

Paid social ads

Given the audience demographic, we focused our efforts on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Time constraints prevented us from producing fully-developed TikTok videos, but we felt the platform itself was going to be a major strategic asset.

QR codes

Using QR codes, we were able to create some real-time, on-site buzz across five campuses as an initial test.

Working with popular, local bars, we introduced eye-catching branded coasters that kept StuDocu top of mind as students enjoyed another round. Each coaster had a QR code that connected students to their school’s unique StuDocu landing page.

We also brought on Gen Z brand ambassadors for two nights to offer students study Plan B: they handed out QR-coded, branded condoms to “practice safe studying.” Let’s just say there was a healthy rise of site traffic that night!

The Results

In just a few weeks (November 3 – December 23, 2021), our campaign efforts saw:

  • 19% increase in overall web traffic
  • 60k+ new users to the website.
  • 7% increase in session length
  • 8% uptick in sessions greater than 3 mins