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Nexford University sees continuous triple-digit growth YoY with HubSpot’s LinkedIn integration

While expanding into new markets, Nexford University has consistently achieved triple digit annual growth. All this, while reducing customer acquisition costs - thanks to HubSpot’s native LinkedIn integration.

  • +400% lead to customer rate

  • 112% increase in enrolments

  • 130% increase in leads

Nexford University (NXU)

Founded in 2018, NXU’s future-focussed degrees provide learners with a world-class education at a fraction of the cost of traditional universities. Their programs are taken by students from over 110 countries around the world.


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    It starts with a vision 

    Nexford University has a vision.

    That vision? To change the old university model. In fact, not just change it. They want to tear down the walls of the traditional campus. To offer education that works for today and tomorrow - not yesterday.

    The courses Nexford offers - from master’s and bachelor’s degrees, to short courses and professional certificates - prepare learners for the global workplace. Their programs are affordable and future-focussed. Think AI. Think Digital Transformation. Think Sustainability.  

    How HubSpot with LinkedIn Ads supports that vision 

    But a vision needs to be shared. You want others to see it - and get it - too. 

    Step forward HubSpot with LinkedIn Ads integration. 

    The team at Nexford were drawn to HubSpot for many reasons, not least the UX and usability which, they say, beats competitors hands down. Founded in 2018, the team at Nexford migrated to HubSpot in 2020 after trying similar platforms. With competitors, for example, they found “challenges with usage, cost and analytics,” according to Barney Woodbridge, Director of Growth. 

    Plus, they needed agility - something lacking elsewhere.

    “We’ve got a unique business case,” continues Barney. “We’re primarily a B2C organization but working with something closer to a B2B sales cycle. For that, we needed something more nimble.”

    “We love the ease of use through the whole platform,” says Head of Performance Marketing, Joe McGoldrick. “There is a shorter learning curve compared with other CRMs. With HubSpot, it’s much easier to spot trends and insights in real time.”

    For Nexford, having all of their sales and marketing analytics in one easy-to-navigate place is the key to their success. 

    Lost time, money and effort 

    Leads are the lifeblood of NXU. 

    Unlike most online-first universities, Nexford is US accredited. This means they have “very specific” admissions requirements that can vary from program to program. Because they attract students from across the world they were, says Joe, “generating lots of leads from people who wanted to study with us but weren’t eligible due to slight differences in their credentials.”

    Yet this mismatch often wouldn’t come to light after sending in their application. Meaning lost time, effort and money - on all sides.  

    Pinpointing the right prospects  

    An answer to that, found Joe and the team, was LinkedIn Ads. Using LinkedIn Ads in their HubSpot dashboard meant they could better identify and message the prospects best suited to Nexford’s programs. 

    “By using these targeting options, we’re now able to ensure a very high percentage of paid social leads are eligible for their programs of interest,” explains Joe. “With the wider targeting options, we can be sure that the right message will reach the right prospect - without wasting ad budgets or sales resources.” 

    Right insights, right results  

    The data gathered and leveraged by the team is not only broken down into age, experience, industry and job role but more nuanced data points: subjects and programs of interest, say, or life goals. 

    Having access to such data means that they have been able to spot customer profiles quite different from the ones they started with. 

    “The profiles we’ve identified include middle managers pursuing leadership roles and full-time employees who dream of becoming entrepreneurs. There are also those who want the financial freedom/security of working for global companies while remaining in their home country.”

    Two years after launching the university, NXU began leveraging LinkedIn integration. Armed with their profiles, the campaigns were a runaway success. In 2020-21 they saw a 400% increase in lead to customer rate. Conversion rates leapt from 1% to 5%. Over the course of the year, they saw a 205% increase in enrolments with a 20% reduction in Customer Acquisition Costs.

    The following year, this growth continued. The team’s aim? Scale rapidly. They focussed on spreading awareness of NXU throughout Africa and Asia. It was an approach that worked. Through LinkedIn ads integration they generated 190% more leads compared with 2021 and a 139% increase in enrolments. 

    Data-driven targeting  

    Based on the profiles the team have discovered, alongside other analysis, they are able to run better informed, more precise marketing campaigns. 

    “LinkedIn’s education and professional targeting options are the perfect choice for performance marketing,” explains Joe. “Their targeting allows us to blend several approaches. We always start with education targeting, to ensure eligibility for the program we’re advertising.”

    This is where LinkedIn’s user base and reach trumps all others. Here, users are explicit about their level of education, experience and levels of expertise - plus their goals in life. 

    “We then separate campaigns by country, industry and job role - plus years of experience and seniority,” illustrates Joe. “For example, for career progression personas, we often target LinkedIn users with bachelor’s degrees who have over five year’s experience but haven’t quite made it to a leadership role.”

    And the criteria can be refined further. Looking at specific member traits such as ‘openness to education’ or interests around career development.  

    Better harmony between marketing and sales

    At Nexford, there has always been a good working relationship between sales and marketing. Before, though, feedback from the sales team could sometimes be anecdotal and subjective. But now? It’s all rooted in data.

    “By empowering both teams with numerous data points, we’ve been able to analyse interest and intent in multiple ways. This has certainly improved alignment,” says Joe.

    For example, on the HubSpot Performance and Marketing Quality dashboard, they split campaigns into two. On one side is the ‘NXU status.’ This captures the admission process stage that contacts have reached. On the other side, ‘Lead substatus.’ This is the outcome from sales calls.

    “By viewing both aspects, we were able to see some areas where leads were marked as qualified but didn’t move forward with their applications. And other areas where the reverse was true. This makes for better certainty when it comes to making marketing decisions.”

    Clearly such an approach is working. Midway through Q4, 2023, Nexford has yet again recorded impressive figures, including: 

    • A 130% increase in leads YTD 
    • A 9% reduction in CPL
    • On target for a 112% increase in enrolments YoY 

    Graduating to the next level 

    As Nexford continues to expand, they will continue to diversify and improve their learning programs. Meaning more graduates with future-focussed degrees who share in Nexford’s vision. 

    And NXU’s relationship with HubSpot and LinkedIn ads looks set to graduate to the next level:

    “With HubSpot and LinkedIn Ads we’ve been able to grow with minimal risk,” says Barney. “For example, when targeting a new country or program, we know we can take a list of eligible qualifications from our admissions team, then begin generating leads based on specific criteria from day one. It’s invaluable.” 

    Over the last four years, we’ve expanded into new markets and consistently achieved triple-digit annual growth - while reducing customer acquisition costs. Thanks to HubSpot’s LinkedIn integration we can be sure the right message reaches the right prospect - without wasting ad budgets or sales resources.

    Joe McGoldrick

    Head of Performance Marketing

    Nexford University

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