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Seattle School of Theology and Psychology Slashes Attrition in Half with Salesforce

The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology was conceived around a kitchen table, where a few passionate dreamers dared to imagine a new kind of theological and psychological training. The school was officially founded in 1997 as a branch campus of Western Seminary. Becoming independent in 2002, the small school now thrives in downtown Seattle as a progressive, multi-denominational institution.

At the school’s inception, the Seattle School recruited its first cohort of students by sending out physical postcards. Over the next fifteen years, the school developed more sophisticated marketing methods for the admissions team to employ, but these methods were limited. Because the admissions team was using its student information system as the primary tool to manage recruiting efforts, no integration with other communication tools existed. “Admissions only used the tool to record what they had already done. It was too cumbersome to use for engagement,” said Jason Best, Director of Media and IT. While the school set bold goals to increase its prospect inquiry pool, no proactive communications plan was in place. The Seattle school needed more than a system of record – it needed a system of engagement.

The Seattle School implemented Salesforce and, within 6 months, built entirely new recruiting and admissions processes. They crafted and executed nurture campaigns that embody their new, relationship-driven mission in admissions processes and practices. This new approach enables the admissions team to holistically engage with prospective students and assess which stage they are at in the enrollment funnel. “Through our relational approach and Salesforce-driven campaigns, we not only hit and exceeded our goals, we began really connecting to our audience,” said Nicole Greenwald, Director of Enrollment Management. As a result, the school has increased overall applications by 29% and its inquiry to applicant rate by 9%.

They have continued to streamline and improve the admissions processes by building online application forms, setting automatic email triggers, and other automated workflows in Salesforce. “There’s simply no more running back and forth between documents. We have a single view of everyone,” said Greenwald.

With this 360-degree student view, the Student Services and Student Development teams can now track pertinent data to identify consistent themes and struggles post-matriculation. By proactively acting on the insight gleaned from the data, the school slashed attrition by 50% and increased retention by 10% in only one year.

With the huge gains achieved in recruitment and student success, The Seattle School set out to expand its use of Salesforce for alumni relations, event registration, donor management, and volunteer management. They are now exploring how Salesforce Communities can help foster deeper relationships with alumni, prospective students, and donors.

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