Design, marketing & data analysis for Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam

Background Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam Mobile Background Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam

Customer profile:

Name: Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam
Industry: Education
Offering: various courses, workshops and lectures in the field of Languages, Creativity, Art and Culture, Digital, and Personal Development
Target audience: Amsterdam residents of 18 years and older who want to explore themselves or the world around them


Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam was founded in 1913 and is, therefore, the oldest folk university (or people’s university) in the Netherlands. Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam offers a new and contemporary range of courses for all adults in Amsterdam. In addition, Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam wants to be an accessible and inspiring meeting place for all Amsterdam residents.

Orange Bird supports Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam in determining the right approach, marketing channels and methods to reach and optimally serve the target audience. The aim is to increase brand awareness for Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam and to generate as many registrations as possible for the courses.


We support Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam in various marketing areas. To do this purposefully and consistently, we follow this approach:

  • We are always well acquainted with our client’s course offerings
  • We know and understand the target audience (see Customer Journey Mapping for Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam)
  • We handle all campaigns, social media and the website in such a way that we reach the right people and meet the needs of the target audience
  • We keep in constant touch with our client so that we can adapt and improve quickly


For this project, the design was much more than just part of our marketing work. Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam has been around for more than 100 years and for some people from the target audience it came across as an outdated organisation. This image is unjustified: the range of courses is contemporary and the organisation has much to offer to today’s Amsterdammer. The image was in urgent need of renewal. This is where the importance of a new design came into play.

The existing logo and brand identity of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam were quite modern, dynamic and radiated inclusiveness and positivity. The problem with the website was that this image only came back in the logo. Also, there were few marketing materials for online marketing using the brand identity. That is why we transformed the website and designed various sliders and banners.

VUA cards


The Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam website has been completely redesigned. We focused on 5 main goals:

1. Address the target audience and renew the image of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam 2. Increase usability for both mobile and desktop users 3. Meet Google’s technical requirements 4. Create more functionality for marketing campaigns 5. Improve the integration with the administrative system of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam

Traditionally, the Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam courses attract an older target group, mainly people over 40. An exception to the rule is the Dutch as a Second Language category, which attracts a younger audience. The challenge was to design an easy to navigate website that would appeal to both the existing target group and new, younger target groups. The design of the website should at the same time reflect the rich and long history of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam and, on the other hand, show the progressive mentality and the modern offering of courses.

We found that almost 60% of all traffic to the website is from mobile visitors. That is why it was crucial to create a simple, user-friendly mobile version that meets all usability principles and supports visitors in finding the best course.

In the initial phase, we presented a number of concept designs to the customer. After the customer’s approval, the final design phase began. Orange Bird, together with the provider of the administrative system, then determined the limits for the design. Next, in constant consultation with Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam, Orange Bird delivered the design for all types of web pages and modules for both mobile and desktop users. The Orange Bird project manager took care of the optimal sequence of work processes throughout the entire project and always remained the point of contact for all parties.

The result is a fresh, modern and future-proof website that supports the intended image and is optimised for marketing purposes.

Desktop version
Mobile version
Desktop menu

returning visitors in 2019

mobile traffic growth in 2019

Search Engine Advertising (SEA)

Orange Bird has been providing Search Engine Advertising via Google Ads for Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam for several years. The advertisements are aimed at visitors in and around Amsterdam. We have set up campaigns per course category, both in the Search and the Display network. The range of courses is adjusted per season, with each campaign we can refer to earlier results in order to make optimal use of the budget.

The ads are managed from two accounts: a regular Google Ads account and a Google Ads Grant account. The accounts are used side by side to achieve maximum results for the available budget.

Google Ads Grant account

Google Ads Grants is part of the Google program for Non-profit organisations. The Google Grant account offers the possibility to appear all year long in the paid results of Google Search without advertising costs, even when no paid campaigns are running. Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam is a non-profit foundation and therefore meets the conditions to participate in this program. Orange Bird assisted with the admission to the program and ensures that the account continues to meet the conditions of the Grants policy.

In December 2017, we launched the first campaign in the Google Ads Grant account. Since that time, we have been using the Ads Grant account continuously to increase the brand awareness for Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam and to advertise specific courses on top of the paid campaigns.

High CTR of 10%

on average testifies to the relevance of the ads

Google Ads account

Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam offers courses throughout the year, the range varies depending on the season. Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam and Orange Bird evaluate which courses should be promoted in the Google Ads account. We use a mix of campaigns in the Search and Display network, including YouTube. We noticed that especially the language courses benefit from Dynamic Ads, both in the Search and in the Display network. The Dynamic Ads have a high conversion ratio at relatively low costs. We also use videos to get in touch with potential students in an appealing way. We test various segments such as remarketing, look-alike audiences and incomplete registrations.

We use Google Analytics to track and analyze all marketing data so that our marketing decisions are data-driven and we can quickly implement adjustments where necessary.

In 2018, with the budget increase of only 30%,

we delivered 210% more clicks than in 2017

Social Media

Facebook ads are a powerful player in many an online marketing strategy. With stimulating copy and sparkling visuals, Orange Bird brings the offerings of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam to the attention of the public. And delivers outstanding results!

Looking at the Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), i.e. the total turnover divided by the Facebook ad costs, we see strong results:

2021 – ROAS 4.9 (almost fivefold return)

2021 – ROAS 6.7 (over six and a half-fold return)

To maintain these results in an ever-changing ad landscape, we constantly keep our finger on the pulse. We test various types of audiences (interests, lookalike audiences, remarketing, etc.), monitor CPC and CTR, and create up-to-date ad copy and visuals. This is how we deliver the most conversions for the lowest cost.

We have seen a huge increase in mobile traffic and mobile conversions in recent years. As the most popular form of mobile content (TechJury, 2023), the role of video cannot be underestimated and the introduction of Instagram Reels in 2020 presented plenty of opportunities for marketers.

Instagram Reels are vertical videos of 15 to 90 seconds. In contrast to Instagram Stories, Reels do not disappear after 24 hours, which means they continue to expand the client’s reach and continually engage the target audience. As a result, Instagram Reels proved to be an excellent way to appeal to Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam’s somewhat younger audiences.

Data Analysis and Usability

Orange Bird supports Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam with data analysis and advises on website usability. Orange Bird signals technical problems of the website such as a high loading time or a large number of server errors. Orange Bird investigates the problems and proposes solutions that the administrators of the website (a third party) can implement so that the website returns to its optimum performance.

Orange Bird also monitors the performance of the website. We use heat maps and web statistics, identify the pitfalls and make suggestions for improvement.

Together with Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam, we have set up cross-domain tracking so that we can accurately keep track of the channels and campaigns which actually work and generate paid registrations. For example, it turned out that the remarketing campaigns in Facebook yield more conversions and at a lower cost than the remarketing campaigns in Google Ads. Such insights help us use the available marketing budget more effectively.

500 pages

were reviewed and analyzed in order to find the best-performing ones in terms of overall traffic, number of entrances and event frequency

Orange Bird is looking forward to continued collaboration with Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam and is happy to come up with new ways to inform all Amsterdammers of the broad and modern offering of courses of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam.

“Orange Bird Agency is a group of enthusiastic marketers that have been supporting Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam in our digital transformation for a number of years. Our cooperation started small with just setting up and implementing Google Ads campaigns, but now they support us in various marketing areas, with lots of passion and with a result-oriented approach.

Orange Bird Agency is always up to date on the latest developments in the digital field. They work very hard and closely with us on a return-oriented online marketing strategy. As a result, we enjoy the cooperation. We especially appreciate their proactive approach.”

Emilia Simion,

Marketing & Sales Manager,
Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam