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“In our first year using our new Salesforce solution, Concordia College not only experienced a year-over-year increase in enrollments, we met and exceeded our enrollment goal for the first time in six years.” - Josh Lysne, Associate Vice President of Communications & Chief Marketing Officer, Concordia College

Salesforce Helps Concordia College Achieve Biggest Enrollment Numbers in Six Years

About Concordia College

Concordia College is a private liberal arts college located in Moorhead, Minnesota. The school offers more than 50 majors, including 15 honors programs and 12 pre-professional programs, to nearly 2,100 undergraduates from 35 states and 31 countries.

The Challenge

Since its founding in 1891, Concordia College has grown into a highly regarded liberal arts college. Like many institutions, however, Concordia College must vie for the attention of prospective students in an increasingly crowded higher education marketplace.

“Ten or twenty years ago, the typical college-bound student was applying to one to three colleges or universities,” said Josh Lysne, Associate Vice President for Communications & Chief Marketing Officer for Concordia College. “Now, because of the Common App and various other factors, prospective students are applying to 10, 12, or even 15 different colleges or universities. That makes recruiting and admissions more important than ever.”

Faced with declining enrollment figures – a challenge many schools have had to navigate in recent years – Concordia College partnered with a third-party agency that focused on growing the enrollment pool.

“We saw a big increase in the number of applications, which translated into some gains in enrollment, but there was room for improvement in the process,” said Lysne. “For starters, the third-party service was very expensive. More than that, though, we didn’t have any visibility into the analytics around the application process to see what was working with our audience and what wasn’t. We didn’t know how the service was getting those applicants.”

The Solution

Concordia College began searching for a solution that could help it optimize its recruiting efforts. The school already had some exposure to Salesforce through its use of Enrollment Rx, which is built on the Salesforce platform. They realized they could leverage the Salesforce platform further, including Salesforce Sales Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

“We looked at several different CRM systems, but Salesforce kept being the one that rose to the top,” said Lysne. “Their focus on higher education – particularly with their Higher Education Data Architecture platform – was a real selling point, and we knew Salesforce could give us the functionality we needed today, and could grow with us over time.”

Concordia College worked with local partner Apex IT on building out and implementing its Salesforce solution. The process started in the spring and was up and running in time for the start of the new school year in the Fall.


With Salesforce in place, Concordia College has been able to gain greater visibility into applications, helping it transform its recruiting and admissions efforts. “In “We have real-time analytics around who has started an application, who is partway through an application, and who has completed an application,” said Lysne. “That allows us to create custom content and custom journeys for people in different phases of their college application process.”

“We’re not sending the same thing to everybody now that we have Salesforce in house,” continued Lysne. “We can tailor content based on geographies or demographics, or on areas where the student has expressed a specific interest, whether that’s a particular sport, a music program, or a certain major. We can hone the content to make it much more relevant to our audience.”

Concordia College’s admissions staff makes a point of regularly meeting as a team to discuss the latest Salesforce analytics. “What new data points have emerged this week that we didn’t have last week?” said Lysne. “How can we use that market intelligence to do a better job in communicating with our prospective students and their parents? The ability to quickly act on any learnings helps us perform at a much higher level than we were previously able.”

This ongoing, data-driven optimization has paid off for recruiting and admissions. “When we were using a third-party service to help increase enrollment, we saw an increase in numbers, but we never hit our full enrollment goal,” said Lysne. “In our first year using our new Salesforce solution, Concordia College not only experienced a year-over-year increase in enrollments, we met and exceeded our enrollment goal for the first time in six years.”

In addition to boosting enrollment numbers, implementing Salesforce has actually helped Concordia College save money. “We’re getting better enrollment results now than when we were spending more money,” said Lysne. “When you can lower costs and improve outcomes at the same time, that’s always a good thing.”

Additionally, having all the student data in one system saves the admissions staff time and eliminates the potential for errors. “We used the Salesforce Platform to build out a campus visit system for prospective students that is directly tied into our other Salesforce applications,” said Lysne. “Previously, all the information that was captured in the visit system would have to manually be re-entered into our other systems, which would take several hours every time there was a new batch of records. Now, the admissions team can really focus on creating great visitor experiences rather than data entry.”

Summing up the value of Salesforce, Lysne said: “College is a big decision. It’s a significant investment, and it’s four or more years of a student’s life. Using Salesforce allows us to deliver content about Concordia College to prospective students that is of most interest and relevance to them, so that they can make the best possible college decision for themselves.”

Download this Concordia College case study.

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