Small Private College Achieves Big Results with Salesforce
For a small private college, Lebanon Valley College (LVC) has always been driven by big ambitions when it comes to student success and institutional effectiveness.
LVC is known for its focus on academic excellence, and consistently ranks among the top schools in the highly competitive Northeast region, in categories such as graduation and retention rates, overall value, and job placement. In 2020, the career site Zippia listed LVC at #1 in Pennsylvania for career placement for the third consecutive year, based on 10-year-out alumni data.
The college had a strong and effective brand platform in place, but still needed a competitive edge. To contend with a highly crowded marketplace, it needed to optimize its marketing efforts and make stronger connections with prospective students.
The main obstacle LVC faced was that it didn’t have a clear, inclusive picture of its data, which meant they had very limited visibility into their constituent and student journeys.
“Our big challenge was unifying our systems and to see our data clearly,” said Jaime Rowe, Director of Marketing at Lebanon Valley College. “There was no way to see what kind of students we had, what kind of characteristics carried over and if you wanted to find a habit you had to go to three different CRMs.”
Relying on multiple systems and database solutions, alongside spreadsheets and handwritten notes, LVC was impeded by an inefficient band-aid technology approach. There were numerous systems and pieces of software with no connectivity in between, and it was slow and difficult to retrieve the information and insights they needed to achieve their goals.
The Key to Competition
To improve its marketing and recruiting efforts, LVC recognized that they needed a complete cloud-based CRM platform that could store and manage everything in one place.
Salesforce was an obvious choice because it provided fast and unconstrained access to student information and enabled LVC to create a detailed picture of learner demographics.
“From a marketing perspective, I wanted to see who the typical LVC student is so I can then know how to help recruit them,” said Rowe. “The more data we have to build out our student personas, the better we’re able to compete.”
In 2019, LVC pressed forward in making Salesforce its CRM and database of record, and strategically connected the Admissions Office and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, along with several departments that had used Salesforce independently.
At the heart of the implementation, the LVC Division of Marketing and Communications launched Marketing Cloud to centralize all of the school’s enrollment communication efforts and help the team focus on messaging and developing journey communications.
Small Team, Big Outcomes
With limited marketing personnel and resources, LVC leveraged Salesforce to attain greater visibility into constituent demographics, expand and enhance its marketing capabilities, and achieve new administrative efficiencies.
Equipped with access to robust student data and powerful insights, LVC was able to invest heavily in building extensive prospective undergraduate and graduate student journeys. For example, the marketing team can now create and deliver specific messages based on a prospective student’s program of interest or whether or not they visited campus.
“Salesforce has helped us develop very specific content and personalized messaging that fosters personal connections and experiences based on students’ needs,” said Rowe. “This is what students today are looking for; they don’t want mass communication.”
Automating Processes with Salesforce
LVC has also automated and eliminated time-consuming manual processes and made significant gains in productivity and administrative efficiencies. This has been a critical advantage for their small marketing and enrollment teams.
Simple requests for reports and insights previously would take hours to complete, but can now be produced on the spot. LVC has also saved time and resources by automating and digitizing several student communications channels, such as application reminders and website inquiries.
“With Marketing Cloud, we’ve been able to streamline and automate our communications in many important ways,” said Rowe. “Anything we can do to remove tasks, like manual email sends, helps us reduce our workload and lets us focus more on strategy rather than tactics.”
Increased Enrollment & Tailored Programs
In terms of measurable impact on recruiting and admissions, LVC’s data-driven personalization and optimization efforts have performed substantially better. They hit record first-year student enrollment in 2019 and are on track to break that record in the 2021 recruitment cycle.
LVC also saw 27% growth in graduate and professional studies’ leads over the course of one year. These incredible results allowed them to double the number of offerings in these areas of study.
LVC’s enrollment success helped it maintain a strong financial position during the pandemic, allowing the college to preserve jobs, benefits, and operating budgets.
The next step in LVC’s journey will be connecting the Alumni and Advancement offices to the Salesforce mix. These two sources of data will provide additional insights and capabilities, including details on graduate outcomes and improved alumni communications.
“Everything we’ve built over the last few years is starting to pay off, and of course Salesforce is really the foundation for everything — that’s where the data lives.
It’s definitely brought us into the 21st century and we feel very fortunate to have such a powerful CRM at an institution our size. — Jaime Rowe, Director of Marketing