Why the University of Wollongong has embraced marketing automation

Digital manager of student recruitment talks through the investment decision, segmentation and the results to date

Nicholas Manojlovic
Nicholas Manojlovic

The University of Wollongong has captured more than 7000 student prospects globally and seen a 97 per cent application-to-offer rate in its first 12 months of using marketing automation.

The tertiary education institution has deployed Marketo’s marketing automation technology in order to better guide prospective students through the recruitment process, as well as help deliver personalised interactions that can help improve enrolment rates.

The university’s digital manager of student recruitment, Nicholas Manojlovic, said its marketers had been struggling to identify and track prospective students, engage them in conversations about the advantages of Wollongong over other institutions, and guide them through the recruitment process.

Using marketing automation, the University of Wollongong has gained insight into the number of prospects in the pipeline, how many are likely to enrol, and how long it takes to move them through the process, he said.

Prior to the initial rollout, Manojlovic and his team went through an internal sales process, meeting with different vendors as well as collecting opinions and information from colleagues and experts inside and outside the education industry. He told CMO he had to overcome a host of external and internal challenges, ranging from privacy and data regulations to securing a timeslot on the busy IT team’s calendar to plan and implement the project.

About 18 months ago, it commenced its proof of concept, partnering with Marketo and limiting usage of the tool to a small part of its overall student recruitment activities. Thanks to the cloud-based nature of the platform, implementation was straightforward, although Manojlovic had to liaise with various parts of the wider university, including IT.

“It only took about three months before I started seeing some meaningful results and I was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of Marketo as a tool to my colleagues,” he said.

Marketing automation has replaced a range of manual and menial tasks that had been shifted to recruiters working in the field, Manojlovic continued.

“Automating laborious tasks like lead and list management means our recruiters are able to focus solely on the task of student recruitment,” he said. “A side benefit has been that I’ve been able to consolidate a number of different tools and providers, such as email marketing platforms, into our Marketo instance, meaning that the project has scaled very effectively from my own time management point of view.”

The marketing team’s initial effort involved a 12-month proof-of-concept nurturing program. This introduced basic segmentation designed to make it easier to create and manage content. Throughout the year, the team then expanded the scope of the program of activity.

“Our segmentation strategy hasn’t been developed or documented in fantastic detail, rather I’ve attempted to satisfy a belief that personalisation is a very effective form of communication and customer service,” Manojlovic said. “On the other hand, I’ve found there is a law of declining returns in this process. So finding a balance between my own time and delivering great customer service means that we keep our segmentation goals ‘smart but simple’.”

For example, a key segment could be based on where a student is at in their decision making process and what resources the university can provide to assist them make the best decision in their circumstances.

“This means we can potentially achieve some very powerful outcomes from a customer service point of view,” Manojlovic said.

The University of Wollongong captured 7000 prospects during the first 12 months, and had a 97 per cent application-to-offer rate.

“What we achieved in the first 90 days alone was unreal, and we’re looking forward to the many additional ways we can leverage Marketo,” Manojlovic said, adding that it’s also helping to demonstrate marketing’s impact on revenue growth.

“We now have a modern tool that helps us understand the prospect-to-student lifecycle. We can use that data to measure the performance of campaigns and content so that we can fine-tune our efforts in ways that shorten the recruitment cycle and increase enrolment and revenue.”

Read more of our coverage of marketing automation in practice:

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