“The competition for students is fierce, so we can’t take a reactive approach, whether that’s recruiting students, or retaining them. We need to be proactive and try to identify a student’s needs, concerns, and interests and address them head-on – and that is what Salesforce is helping us do.” - - Nathan Baker, Director of Enrollment Analytics, Taylor University
Taylor University uses Salesforce Einstein Analytics to land biggest-ever enrollment class
Taking Analytics Further
Taylor University is no stranger to the power of analytics. Several years ago, the university used Salesforce to completely revamp its recruiting model, switching from a geography focus that was based on where a student lived, to an academic focus based on what the prospective student was interested in studying.
“Salesforce Einstein Analytics showed that individual counselors did statistically better recruiting prospects who were interested in certain majors than they did with prospects interested in other majors,” explained Nathan Baker, Director of Recruitment and Analytics at Taylor University. “We realigned our model to allow counselors to be devoted to one academic area, and to know that area really well, so they can sell the product. It was a fundamental shift.”
The results of that shift were immediate: the Fall 2015 recruitment cycle produced what was then the largest ever incoming class for Taylor University. In subsequent years, the school decided to embrace analytics further to examine how financial aid could best be utilized during the recruiting and admissions process.
“Financial aid is a complex beast,” said Baker. “While scholarships can provide an incentive for students to attend, many scholarships we award mean less revenue for the institution. 92% of our revenue comes from tuition, so we need to be very strategic in how much of a tuition discount we offer to prospective students.”
Taking this next analytical step required making better use of existing data. “Like most schools, we use a third-party tool called PowerFAIDS for financial aid,” said Baker. “However, the tool was mostly used in a functional manner to generate a financial aid package. The information wasn’t fed back to our admissions counselors, so that they could learn from it and make an informed decision about how to leverage the scholarships to impact an enrollment decision.”
A Solid Foundation
Taylor University already had Sales Cloud in place to manage its recruitment and admissions, Community Cloud for its online application portal, and Pardot for emails and digital communications. Additionally, Einstein Analytics was already being used for reporting and analysis.
“We’ve worked hard to bring all student information into one system, and so it was important that we did this for the financial aid data as well,” said Baker. “Fortunately, we had a solid foundation to make that happen.”
In 2016, the university integrated the PowerFAIDS data with its Salesforce implementation, enabling the school to start using Einstein Analytics to report on financial aid.
“The admissions team now has powerful information about the relationship between tuition discounts and enrollments in their hands,” said Baker. “The reports and analysis that Salesforce generates gives our admissions counselors predictive probability numbers that allow them to start thinking about financial aid strategically, rather than just a process to be completed.”
New Insights, Strong Results
With stronger insights into how financial aid and scholarships impact recruiting and admissions – coupled with the other insights that Salesforce can harvest from the school’s data – Taylor University has seen its numbers trend upwards.
“Our inquiry pool in 2012 would have been about 10,000 students a year,” said Baker. “Now, it’s over 60,000 students a year. Those numbers pay off further down the funnel: our Fall 2018 class was our largest-ever enrollment class.”
The school has extended the benefits of its Salesforce implementation from the admissions office to the academic enrichment center, which is in charge of student success at Taylor University.
“We have an enviable retention rate of roughly 90%,” said Baker. “Much of the data impacting this rate is captured within Salesforce for the academic enrichment center to make use of. They can spot patterns and potential flags that a student might be thinking of withdrawing. As soon as they see something like that, they can take proactive steps to reach out to the student with tutoring, guidance, or even just assistance on how to navigate the bureaucracy of a higher education institution – whatever they need to succeed.”
Taylor University has also exposed the students themselves to the power of Salesforce analytics through a popular course that gives them hands-on experience with Salesforce tools.
“Developing a class where I can teach the students Salesforce and have them look at the data with me has been fantastic,” said Baker. “They’re able to jump in and learn the tool very quickly and start making assessments based on the data they’re working with. The class is in very high demand, and the analytics experience is very valuable for the students.”
From admissions and financial aid, through various aspects of student life, Baker feels Salesforce has helped Taylor University become more competitive in the higher education community.
“The recruiting and admissions department – and, to a certain extent, the school itself – has become more sales-minded in recent years,” said Baker. “What that means is that we realize that the competition for students is fierce, so we can’t take a reactive approach, whether that’s recruiting students, or retaining them. We need to be proactive and try to identify a student’s needs, concerns, and interests and address them head-on – and that is what Salesforce is helping us do.”
Download a PDF of the complete Taylor University Success Story to learn more.