Mercy College


This Westchester-based college (with campuses in Manhattan and The Bronx, too) is on a mission to make a secondary education available to anyone with enough determination to earn one, regardless of background or income. Founded by socially conscious nuns in the 1960s, the school holds true to this mission today.

Not only does Mercy College maintain one of the lowest undergraduate tuition rates for any private college in New York, they provide personal attention and guidance for each and every student by way of a unique mentorship program. These are just two of the ways Mercy proudly serves a large number of first generation college students and other disadvantaged populations.

The ProblemEmail marketing example from Mercy College

Mercy ran into the same headwinds many colleges face. With costs spiraling upward and diploma mills harvesting demand from their core market, it became difficult for them to make the case for students to apply. Following the recession, admissions tanked.  That led them to do some soul searching.

The college hired a world-renowned branding firm to help them forge a new identity in a crowded higher education marketplace. This brand would be built on the history and mission of the school in an attempt to appeal to students who have more determination than discretionary spending. They encouraged those with a passion to get ahead to apply. Once the direction was set, they turned it over to Mercy and let them run with it.

Initially, the college’s internal communications department struggled with the change in voice. Recognizing this, Mercy turned to Digital Pudding for help bringing the brand to life.

How We Helped

Our copywriters and strategists worked with the in-house marketing department at Mercy to execute enrollment campaigns within the new brand voice. We revisited all enrollment communications, including emails, websites, postcards, brochures, even email signatures for important faculty. We even added new campaigns never before attempted in an effort to increase enrollment in key areas.

The Results

This past September, the first fall admissions period using the new brand voice, we overshot our budget for new students. In fact, Mercy College had to cap enrollment for the first time in the school’s history. We continue to work on increasing the student count for graduate programs as well as across the college’s diverse campuses.

Long Island Party Bus


This transportation company rents limos and party buses from its base in West Babylon, NY. They also have a satellite brand that exclusively runs wine tours of Long Island’s East End, making this two clients in one, each with unique needs and goals.

The Problem

The party bus business is very competitive and, while the wine tours are lucrative, they only fill buses one or two days a week, and only during the summer season. The website for Long Island Party Bus was an absolute mess, requiring significant work before we could galvanize that half of the business. At the same time, the company was actively marketing their wine tours using Google AdWords and seeing a diminishing return on their investment.

In essence, there were two objectives here. We had to straighten out all existing campaigns, then we had to figure out how to fill limos and buses more days a week with new and creative promotions through the Long Island Party Bus brand. All of that with an extremely limited budget to make it happen.

How We Helped

This was one of the more complex challenges we’ve had to tackle. First thing, we took over their existing AdWords account, which was a mess. We then spent time overhauling the entire campaign, rewriting ads to fit formats, including ad extensions and reevaluaing their keyword strategy.

Second, to drum up more interest in the wine tours, we engaged in a creative Facebook ad campaign targeted to some of the key demographics that love sunny days in wine country: Bachelorettes and Birthday Girls.

All of this was done under the wine tour subsidiary branding. When we got to Long Island Party Bus, the website needed everything. New content was created. A new design was implemented. Client photos pulled from their Yelp account were used to bring the website to life. We covered the basics before moving on to the next phase. We also launched a new Facebook presence for this brand at the same time.

Once we had a minimum viable website, we started to build out pages for specific campaigns, including proms, rides for concerts, sports tailgating and the Wine Hookup singles bus. Those each needed their own mix of AdWords, email marketing and Facebook advertising, coming up with novel targets for each.

The Results

Their campaign AdWords clickthru rate nearly doubled under our guidance, jumping from 3.25% all the way up to 6.45% in a few months. Cost per click held steady at right around a dollar. Click totals tended to fluctuate with the budget which we didn’t fully control. Overall, though, we were able to increase the effectiveness of the ads and generate more revenue for the same spend.

The Facebook advertising we’ve done for the wine tours continues to be popular. Each click to the website costs about a dollar, right in line with AdWords, and they’re converting well. One particular ad creative has nearly 100 shares and over a thousand interactions altogether. That doesn’t even speak to how much new business the campaign has generated.

The website for Long Island Party Bus continues to evolve as we add new initiatives. While the Wine Hookup singles bus flopped, we’re seeing strong business for proms and interest in our football season packages. Couple that with renewed focus on weekday tours and we’re starting to fill up every day of the week.

New York Sports Connection

This New York City parents’ resource for the latest in youth sports news had stagnated after its initial launch in 2012. Our challenge was twofold. First we had to figure out a way to break through the clutter and noise around parenting in New York City and establish ourselves as a valuable directory with our own identity. Then, we had to leverage our growing parent database as a way to monetize the website.

While all the listings on the website are proprietary, we needed to figure out how to define a voice. We decided the best strategy was to leverage the power of a lifetime New York City parent and former newspaper reporter to build up website content in the form of first person articles. We also encouraged kids to get involved with a Junior Journalism campaign that aids and promotes rising stars as a way of getting new and unique content on the website. And the annual essay contest has grown each year, giving us newsworthy interest each spring. These are just some of the new ways we’re keeping parents on the site and attracting new visitors.

With a mix of digital advertising and diving into the analytics on our content, we were able to more than double the daily pageviews of the website, triple the email subscriber list and seek major advertising dollars from big brands looking to reach NYC parents. In fact, that essay contest was sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods last year. Plus, to help sports programs and other brands better engage with our audience, we began offering several new paid advertising opportunities, including email blasts, featured announcements and sponsored listings on the website. These remain exclusive and are sought after by many programs.