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University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky readies for a new marketing frontier.
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A Complete Modernization Of Data and Marketing

In 2016, University of Kentucky (UK) officials knew they had to overhaul their data to more efficiently serve both faculty and students across the campus. That’s when they turned to Salesforce to create a comprehensive system that reaches everything from undergraduate recruitment and admissions to campus-wide communications.

The University opted for a fast implementation of different Salesforce tools, including Heroku, Tableau, and Marketing Cloud, some of which were up as quickly as 16 to 18 weeks. The school approached the deployment with an eye toward growth and succeeded in iterating a wide range of applications to help the university manage data in a comprehensive way.

  • 57%
    average open rate with Marketing Cloud.
  • 72%
    students opting into mobile outreach.
  • 30
    scheduled journeys within one automated push.

Siloed Data and Non-Targeted Outreach Drives Need for Change

Before implementing a suite of tools from Salesforce, the University of Kentucky was managing outreach, recruitment, and student relationships in a siloed, time-intensive, and manual manner. Disparate technologies and competing priorities across different schools created inconsistent marketing strategies across branding and tone.

With the marketing efforts siloed, there was no data to effectively backup the success of outreach. That’s when UK decided to look for a solution that would marry its CRM data with its communications needs.

University of Kentucky officials knew they needed to centralize the way they looked at student relationships and scale campus-wide communications. This included everything from admissions and enrollment management to retention, as well as, student, staff, and alumni communications. The school put an emphasis on reinforcing its strategy when it came to undergraduate recruitment and admissions.

“Salesforce was the only solution big enough to fit our vision, campus-wide,” said Jordan Adler, Director of Salesforce Operations. “Everything else was hemmed in to a certain space, but Salesforce offered enough flexibility to let us take it where we wanted.”

Salesforce was the only solution big enough to fit our vision, campus-wide.” Jordan Adler, Director of Salesforce Operations
University of Kentucky

Creating a Unified Voice Across the Campus Enterprise with Marketing Cloud

Now, with automated and unified messaging, the marketing department has established a process where each college submits its communication requests as part of the greater student outreach. This year, the University of Kentucky launched a main enrollment strategy with 30 scheduled dynamic messages (a journey) within one automated push. These personalized outreach journeys initiate communication with prospective students, share application assistance, and encourage students to act quickly once confirmed.

“Taking what we learned from building quick response journeys from our Pandemic Response, we implemented those same features in our admissions journeys,” said Emily Brenzel, Director of Marketing Cloud at UK.

UK is also piloting text messages with Salesforce partner, SMS Magic, for both marketing campaigns and conversational chat. This one-to-one communication option allows prospective students to directly connect with ambassadors from the campus or college guidance counselors – to help guide them through the admissions and enrollment processes at a comfortable speed.

Organization and Standardization For Data with Heroku and Tableau

To further automate and organize its three dozen admissions lead sources, UK turned to Heroku to be its primary lead source for bringing data into its CRM. In addition to building business rules and applying quality filters, Heroku is formatting data into easily-understandable and actionable dashboards for decision makers to analyze lead effectiveness.

In conjunction with Heroku, Tableau is being utilized to provide campaign visibility and centralize marketing intelligence. With application, admission, and student data all rolled into workbooks, Tableau has the verified data they can trust.

“Tableau is our go-to for data visualization and decision support,” Jordan said. “It’s the air we breathe.”

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Strategic Outreach Backed By Data Generates Strong Engagement

Since implementing Salesforce – to deliver a better student experience and undergraduate recruitment process – the University of Kentucky has seen an increase in positive engagement at scale with automated journeys.

UK implemented a marketing push for increased applications with Marketing Cloud. The average open rate of “cold” emails was 33%, with some communications reaching as high as 50%. For those eager students at the end of their enrollment journey, the University saw 70-80% open rates.

Marketing Cloud has also been used to bolster outreach for undergrad students, as the school iterates on its messaging and tries to find the most effective path forward. The latest data shows the payoff of these efforts, as admitted students targeted with Marketing Cloud have an average open rate of 57%, with some groups hitting almost nearly 73%.

Additionally, their big student outreach push through text messaging is starting off well with, 72% of all admitted students opting in. The university also saw a significant increase in traffic within the 24 hours after each text push journey, encouraging them to look into incorporating text messaging into the general admitted student population.

Deliver personalized engagement at scale.

About University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky has been a premier college since its founding in 1865, educating more than 32,000 students on campus and countless more online.

UK has prioritized student growth and well being and stands on the forefront of the future of education.