Open Colleges: One-to-one journeys is the goal

A/B testing and Marketing Cloud have increased personalisation and is helping to boost sales, improve communications and more

For Open Colleges, personalisation has made a big difference. In fact, the online education organisation has seen a 42 per cent increase in conversion rates after A/B testing and optimising its normal welcome journey.

The taretiary online education marketplace implemented Salesforce Marketing Cloud a few years ago after having previously been using Pardot. Its head of lifecycle marketing, Lawrence Daffurn, said while Pardot was aimed more at B2B engagement, Marketing Cloud has allowed the team to realise personalised journeys for students.

And the work is continuing, with Open Colleges integrating Google Analytics 360 into the mix as well.

“We’ve been on a journey over the last few years to use this Marketing Cloud to its fullest extent,” Daffurn said. “Pardot was more of a B2B system, it wasn’t giving us the personalisation and automation we wanted to get to give our students the best experience. Marketing Cloud has enabled us to give a personalised experience to our students, not just in marketing, but across the business.

“For our very first journey in Journey Builder, we saw a 42 per cent increase in conversion rate on our normal welcome journey using A/B testing.

“The first journey we set up for students was 60-day journey, and we saw 12 per cent increase in first assessments being submitted. For our students, having a great start in their journey with us means they are more likely to finish their course. We need to help them start strong, and give them a great experience in the first 7-14 days. If we motivate the students at the right time, they are far more likely to be successful.”

Daffurn has also been surprised as some of the results he’s received from A/B testing.

“We continuously do this. We’ve got about 20 journeys live and a split test running in each one at any given time, whether it’s a subject line, to content, depending on what our goal is. I’m always quite surprised when it comes to testing, you think you know what your students want and the data can tell a different story. But that’s the great thing about testing, we see results quickly so we can switch rapidly."

The successes haven’t been limited to marketing, either. Automation of offerings and data has incorporated across the organisation, resulting in efficiencies.

“We‘ve Automated the sales teams’ emails, and the sales team saw more than a 40 per cent increase in call centre efficiencies after we automated a lot of their processes. In student support, marketing, and finance, we’ve seen the benefits throughout the business,” Daffurn told CMO.

With a key demographic of women aged 34-44 looking to upskill, Daffurn also recognised he needs to change up the way Open Colleges communicates with students and potential students, and answers inquiries. The organisation is upping its presence on social media, and implementing chat bots, as a result.

“We are now using Social Studio as well, to reply to leads. We get a lot of messages from students and prospective students via social media. Social Studio enables us to manage our Facebook, LinkedIn, all in one place, and all connected in Sales Cloud, so we can create a case throughout the business.

“We are also building some bots. We have a support bot for our students called Frankie. This has changed the game for us in support, now we can free up our support team to offer more valuable support and guidance. We’ve found 40 per cent of our course inquiries are at off-peak times in the evening when we don’t have a sales team online. We need to be online at all times, so creating a bot so people can ask those kinds of questions at all times is important.

“I am seeing organic growth in people wanting to enrol online without speaking to someone. So we want to empower them to do this without having to speak to us if they don’t want to,” he said.

As for the future, Daffurn is looking to test more features through Marketing Cloud, so Open Colleges can work further towards the one-to-one journey they are aiming for.

“We want to move away from having fixed journeys, and have one-to-one journeys with every customer, which is where we want to go,” he concluded.

  • Vanessa Mitchell travelled to Dreamforce as a guest of Salesforce.

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