Leveraging Student Stories to Recruit New Student Application


Global Citizen Year is a nonprofit focused on creating and engaging the next generation of global leaders through an immersion-based gap year fellowship and virtual leadership academy. Their programs are geared toward helping students prepare for college through cross-cultural learning, leadership development, and developing their passions to make a change in the world. 

The goal of their new student recruitment campaign was to increase the number of leads and applications to continue to grow the Academy program and increase the amount of global changemakers they help guide to make an international impact.

The Outcome

Between May 4 and July 30, 2021, we helped Global Citizen Year acquire a total of 1,944 leads and 109 applications for the Fall 2021 recruitment efforts.




total applications


increase in applications
The Challenge

With the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the gap year fellowship program was suspended. The organization pivoted by developing and offering the Academy, a 12-week virtual leadership experience that connects international students together and equips them with the tools to become global changemakers—through instruction from world-class speakers, instructors and mentors. The Academy has two cycles per year (a fall and spring cycle) and began in Fall 2020. 

Other than the goal to increase overall leads and applications, the Academy does have a scholarship/financial aid component to it, which many folks cite a need during the application process. The team at Global Citizen Year had a goal to increase the pipeline of qualified students, with the ultimate goal of driving applications from full-pay students.

The Strategy

We focused on a three-stage funnel to build and nurture a relationship with potential Academy students and keep them engaged throughout the application process. Throughout these stages, we tested different platforms and created concepts to maximize reach and volume while gaining valuable data for future cycles.  

Global Citizen Year utilizes Unbounce to capture interest forms (Leads in our campaign vernacular). These leads are followed up with by the Global Citizen Year team and are utilized for retargeting and lookalike audiences for our campaign efforts. 

We developed a cross-channel campaign across Google Display, Tik Tok, Facebook/Instagram, and YouTube.

The Implementation

Landing Page + Native, In-App Leads

For the Fall 2021 cycle, we focused on getting leads in new ways—testing driving leads directly from the Unbounce landing page and in-app lead generation forms on Facebook and Instagram. The latter allowed for ease in submitting interest for students on the go and provided a larger lead retargeting list for the bottom of the funnel retargeting.

Flexing Creative To The Consumer Funnel

Throughout the campaign, we utilized a mixture of creative based on funnel stage, including:

Outreach Ads: Sharing information about the Academy experience with messaging focused on connecting with young leaders from around the world, learning from world-class speakers and mentors, and building leadership to create global change.

Gated + Unique Content: Driving traffic to a downloadable Zine that was gated with an RFI lead form, as well as traffic to the Summer Speaker Series.

This mixture of creative pieces during the different phases of the cycle allowed us to build a strong remarketing list and helped achieve a higher number of applications than the previous cycle. We achieve a 55% higher CTR than the Spring 2021 campaign, with compelling content that engaged the audience.

Students Share Their Stories

As we expanded platforms from the Spring 2021 campaign, we deployed testimonial ads on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to give the audience an inside view of the value of the Academy from former students. These ads helped widen the reach of Global Citizen Year’s efforts; building the website remarketing list and allowing us to engage with the audience further down the funnel.

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