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Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA)

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UPSA increases its enrollment with perfect use of digital technology

Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA) is a Spanish non-profit university, owned by the Spanish Episcopal Conference. Recognising the needs of modern-day students, the university embarked on a digital transformation journey: overhauling it’s marketing, digital technology, and digital infrastructure with admirable focus and zeal.

This change came about after Javier Tabernero, Director of Marketing and Admissions at UPSA, was hired and concentrated his efforts on improving an outdated enrolment process which focused on a short window in spring each year. Processes were manual and time consuming, and it was difficult to keep track of information on prospective students. To compete against larger universities, UPSA needed a change.

A project that began by streamlining the process of enrollment, has led to a completely personalised experience for prospective students and their engagement with the university. The results? Increased application numbers, a more efficient enrollment process, and a better student experience.

  • 50%
    increase in admissions applications
  • 20%
    increase in enrollments
  • 1 year
    from implementation to clear and significant results

Moving beyond the passive approach to student recruitment

In a competitive market for top students, it’s not enough for universities to rely on good reputation —all universities in Spain fit into this category and have an impressive selection of courses. Competition is fierce and potential students are discerning—with good reason.

“There is a difference in how each university manages the admission of its students,” explained Tabernero. The choice, he continued, doesn’t hinge on the quality of academic courses but on how actively universities carry out student recruitment and how successful and thorough communications are. Students expect a superior experience, but this is something that UPSA was not offering. Advanced recruitment processes simply didn’t exist at the university.

“Initial engagement is key. From the moment a university contacts a student, to the student signing on, that is where enrolment is won or lost,” said Tabernero.

This requires universities to be responsive and adaptive throughout the enrolment journey. “A student whose interest you captured in November of the previous year is not the same type of audience as the one you encounter in June,” Tabernero continued. “The student you engage with in June needs to make their decision now. Your approach must be very different”

Needs and expectations vary based on the students’ age, experience and background. “Older students tend to need a certain degree of adaptation that an 18-year-old will not,” said Tabernero.

I have known other CRM systems and there is absolutely nothing that compares. Not only because of the tool itself, but because of the possibilities for customisation and change. For me, that is the key to Salesforce.” Javier Tabernero, Director of Marketing and Admissions
Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA)

Working with expert partners to ensure a smooth transition

UPSA wanted to remain competitive, increase enrolment numbers, and find a more streamlined way of managing the recruitment process, increasing yearly enrolments by more than 20% after the Salesforce integration.

Omega, UPSA’s expert implementation partner, helped define the student acquisition process by leveraging Sales Cloud, whilst adapting to Salesforce Education Data Architecture standards, specific to educational institutions.

Tabernero commented: “Sales Cloud means we finally know who is asking us for information. Now we know if we have contacted someone, what they have told us, and the next step we have to take.”

Omega also implemented Marketing Cloud, leading the integration with journeys that UPSA designed with The Cocktail, its marketing partner. Now, instead of waiting for a short enrolment window, an applicant’s journey starts with the university when they request information. Each journey allows UPSA to personalise communications with prospective students and ensures they are delivering the right type of content, to the right person, at the right time.

Additionally, to modernise and facilitate communications, Salesforce Digital Engagement was deployed using WhatsApp, significantly increasing ease of contact with students while maintaining oversight of communications.

“If a student gets in touch and you follow up from the very beginning, you have a much greater chance that it will end up becoming a success.” said Tabernero.

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A tool that evolves with you

The university’s streamlined processes and improved communications resulted in a significant rise in the number of applications for admission. Enrolment numbers grew to more than 250 registrations in just one year.

UPSA has generated a relationship model that spans across the student journey, from their first exposure to advertising all the way to enrolment. UPSA also defined a series of customer journeys that facilitate pinpointing different stages in the conversion funnel. The simplified system segments prospective students—accounting for stages and needs in their personal journey—allowing campaigns and strategies to attract them. This has resulted in an increase of 40% in the number of requests for information and a 50% increase in the number of applications for admission.

“I have known other CRM systems and there is absolutely nothing that compares. Not only because of the tool itself, but because of the possibilities for customisation and change. I don’t need a tool that anchors me to a way of working but a tool that evolves with me. For me, that is the key to Salesforce,” said Tabernero.

Within the first year of implementing Salesforce, the university saw a 20% increase in enrolment. And it’s already planning the next stage of its digital development: implementing Experience Cloud to allow for better use of admission tests and helping students to self-manage admissions. According to Tabernero, UPSA is excited to see how far it can go with Salesforce as a partner.

Deliver personalised engagement at scale

About Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca

Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA) is a private Catholic university that caters to 7,500 students across two campuses. It’s known for its Faculties of Health Sciences, Psychology, Insurance, Law and Business Studies, Communication, Informatics, Education, Theology, and Canon Law.