Creating Engaging Student Journeys With St. Francis College + Salesforce Marketing Cloud

For over 160 years, St. Francis College (SFC) has provided an affordable, quality education to students of all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.  Rooted in the vibrant community of Brooklyn, New York, SFC prioritizes life-long education and service-oriented leadership through small, personalized education experiences across 72+ programs spanning nearly every conceivable field of study.  Around 2,600 students are served each year, class sizes average about 18 students, and an incredible 97% of these students will receive some form of financial aid, including federal and state grants, federal loans, and institutional scholarships.

How Timing Influenced SFC Technology

SFC began their Salesforce journey in 2018 through the utilization of Pardot for internal/external email communications.  After about a year, it became clear that the St. Francis team needed a more robust solution to intuitively create engaging email content.  Following attending the Salesforce Higher Education Summit in 2019, and meeting members of the Cloud for Good team, SFC decided the best path forward would be traversed through Marketing Cloud.

Tearanny Street, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, leads SFC’s brand, communications, and marketing strategies.  In describing the college’s technology priorities, Street said, “St. Francis College sought a solution that would nurture leads and create trackable marketing journeys for applicants.  We needed to be able to send our emails quickly because we are a very events-heavy school.  With Marketing Cloud, the process became quicker, more efficient, and more intuitive.”  The need for a technology transformation was made all the more important given the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.  With staff moving to remote work and events moving online, the college required technology that would empower their pivot.

Solidifying a Salesforce Strategy

While the college’s use of Salesforce began as a standalone system for manual email sending, Cloud for Good stepped up to help transition SFC toward leveraging the Salesforce platform to an even greater extent that would help not only communications but recruitment and admissions as well.  During discovery, SFC and Cloud for Good found an opportunity to integrate the college’s Enrollment RX recruitment and application data in order to drive personalized, automated messaging and increase recruitment/admissions engagement to reach enrollment goals.

Additionally, Cloud for Good worked to implement a digital strategy that would help to understand the different recruitment/admissions personas of SFC students (incoming freshmen, transfer students, graduate students, etc.) in order to drive one-to-one email engagement.  “We needed to break up our marketing journeys and create content that really spoke to those unique personas; their motivations, their desires, their needs, and use specific language that would address what’s most important to them,” said Street.

Enhancing Student Engagement

Prior to Marketing Cloud, SFC found the limits of that email platform to be causing confusion on- and off-campus.  Students would receive emails that didn’t pertain to their individual journeys, resulting in difficulties like event invitations going out to students who had already registered.  Marketing Cloud’s ability to suppress subscribers was a huge win for SFC, as was having all communication data housed in one, central location so they could efficiently track email metrics and levels of engagement.  SFC was also able to leverage Marketing Cloud while working with a call center centered around reaching prospective students.  Granting the call center access to Marketing Cloud allows the callers to view the emails being sent out by the college, providing a more unified approach to student communication and engagement.

It’s no coincidence that SFC experienced their most successful enrollment period in the college’s 161-year history following the implementation of these new technology solutions.  “I definitely think Marketing Cloud had a lot to do with our ability to move the needle and meet our enrollment goals,” Street confirmed.  Going a step further, SFC has embraced Marketing Cloud’s subscription center to centralize data and expand the effectiveness of their communications.  A greater level of data clarity and insights have provided SFC the ability to identify the interests of students relative to their unique journey throughout their entire lifecycle as a student at the college.

Building a Bridge to the Future

With their eyes continually fixed to the horizon, SFC plans to flesh out an omnichannel marketing strategy through integration with Marketing Cloud’s Email Studio, Ad Studio, and Mobile Studio.  These steps are being taken in a measured and deliberate fashion, with Cloud for Good’s Managed Services helping to guide SFC down the paths most beneficial to the college and their students.  “There wasn’t a lot of heart in our marketing prior to Marketing Cloud.  You have to have people inside that are really shaping and stewarding the messaging,” Street revealed.  “Now, we’re able to be the masters of our own destiny as opposed to trusting other people to analyze and gather the right data.”

With the increased effectiveness of communications with Marketing Cloud, partnership with Managed Services, and strident dedication to their students, SFC has experienced record success despite historic adversity.  With each new implementation and each next step, SFC continues to be driven by dreams, powered by big ideas and empowered to find the courage necessary to bring those dreams to life.

To learn more about St. Francis College, including how to support their mission, visit their website follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.


Written by Blake Becker

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