David May: Digital Marketing Projects

Discover Chapman Campaign

Project Overview:

After review of our global marketing efforts, Chapman's Vice President of Marketing realized that the department was excelling at sharing the good news of the school, but we may be rushing leads through the customer lifecycle. He explained to the web and digital media team that he wanted a website that would serve as a better 'first date' for our leads, and allow them to learn more about us without committing to a deep relationship right away.

The solution was a microsite designed to simulate a first date. It asks questions like "who are you" and "what interests you" as a way of allowing the user to tell us about themselves, and receive relevant information from the University. Just as we are looking for commonalities on first dates, prospective students are evaluating potential colleges, products, and brands before the decide to take the next step in the relationship.

When the user was ready to provide their contact information or schedule a visit, the website was ready with CTAs located in the footer.

Traffic was generated for this site primarily by organic social media, paid social media, and paid search engine marketing. When the advertising campaigns were over, the traffic to the site was greatly reduced.


This project was a joint effort between our web design vendor, Barkley REI, and our in-house designer and developers. It was built as a section of Chapman's primary www website, meaning it shared a content management system with the rest of the primary www site (Cascade by Hannon Hill).

One of the other motivating forces for this site was to create better visibility for our blog network. We had previously been successful crowdsourcing content from other members of the Chapman community, and we wanted their hard work to be seen and appreciated. Using sophisticated taxonomy to categorize and flag blog content, we were able to curate the articles that appeared when users provided specific answers to user's questions. This dynamic webpage was therefore highly personalized and adaptable.

David's Responsibilities:

  • Project management.
  • Product ownership and management including product iteration.
  • Staff, vendor, and budget supervision.
    • Staff for this particular project included our supplemental web design agency, an in-house designer, developers a marketing content author, and a variety of community members who provided content.

Missed opportunities and Lessons Learned:

  • I needed to elevate and better prioritize SEO into the strategy, which would have made our other efforts more worthwhile.
  • Better connect this campaign to the "Discover Chapman" open house event that is hosted by the Admission department.
  • I/we needed to train, encourage, and coordinate with non-marketing staff to utilize CTAs effectively in their blog posts. While the Discover Chapman pages have CTAs in the footer, when the user is linked to a blog post, the CTAs are few and far between.

Chapman University "New Media Recruitment Initiative" (awarded from Chancellor Daniele Struppa)

In early the mid 2000s, Chapman University's Office of the Chancellor organized a program where staff could apply for grands that would support the University's innovation. In 2006, I submitted a grant for a "new media recruitment initiative" which would supplement our traditional methods of student recruitment. After being awarded the grant, I started Chapman Admission's YouTube channel, blog, and social media accounts.

In 2006, were neither iPhones nor business Facebook pages. WordPress was in version 2.0 and HTML5 wouldn't become WC3's standard for eight years. Most of the marketing strategies that leverage web 2.0 technology had not been named yet. Chapman's admission office was practicing and pioneering inbound marketing, social media marketing, viral marketing, and other forms of digital marketing.

Blog: The Fourth Kind

The Chapman University Admission Blog hosted content about a wide variety of things. It was primarily a source of information for application tips, deadlines, and updates. I organized schedules and coordinated with admission counselors who would write guest posts and have activity on the blog as a way of humanizing our admission process to our applicants. We would review data and determine which blog posts were performing well, which would influence our topics in the future.

In 2009, a film called "The 4th Kind" was released. This film asserted that it was based on a true story, and actual footage of the supernatural events would be included in the film. Dr. Abigale Tyler was identified as a Chapman University professor in the actual footage, and was witness to frightening realities. Naturally, our office received calls and inquiries about Dr. Abigale Tyler, and our related web activity spiked as well.

The truth, however, is that the director of the film was a Chapman University graduate, and he had arranged with Chapman University's legal department to use our brand in the found footage portions of the film, which turned out to be just as much fiction as the rest of the film. The use of the Chapman Brand, one of Orange County's most trusted brands, would bring legitimacy to the "real" footage portions of the film, even though Dr. Abigale Tyler doesn't exist. We wrote a blog post that explained this, and our backlinks shot up almost immediately. By breaking that story, news outlets, blogs, alien conspiracy fans, and other websites linked to our domain. 

YouTube: First Admit of the Year

(details coming soon)

One Chapman Family, Many Chapman Stories

(details coming soon)

Social.chapman.edu website launch

(details coming soon)

Milken Inbound Marketing Campaign

(details coming soon)

Viral Marketing: National Library Week

(details coming soon)