Teach For America (TFA) is an education nonprofit operating in support of a vision that one day all children in the United States will have the opportunity to attain an equitable and excellent education. Operating in over 50 regions across the country, TFA finds, develops, and supports a diverse network of leaders who expand opportunities for children across classrooms, schools, and any sector or field that shapes the broader systems in which schools operate. The scope of TFA’s inspirational influence is staggering, including over 64K active members and alumni serving 9K schools nationwide, with 367K students taught by corps members across nearly 2.3K schools.
Changing the Technology Strategy
TFA has been in business for over 30 years and prior to engaging with Cloud for Good, their technology began to show its age. The organization’s commitment to education demanded a new technology strategy, one that could create constituent-first marketing strategies that empowered regional staff and reached their diverse audiences more efficiently. Previous technology solutions had resulted in silos being built up around regional offices, creating disjointed constituent experiences, as well as a lack of a centralized email preference center and a single source of truth.
The remedy came by way of Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud implemented a more journey-focused marketing effort and created journeys that were as personalized as possible to enable regional staff with intuitive technology that broke down barriers for both staff and the students they serve.
TFA communicates with a wide swath of people broken up into four distinct audiences: corps members (those that make a commitment to teaching for two years in a low-income community, where they’re employed by local schools and confront both the challenges and joys of expanding opportunities for kids), prospects (recruits for the corps member program), alumni (corps members that have fulfilled their two-year teaching commitment), and community partners (donors, volunteers, educational board members, etc.).
Creating a Constituent-First Marketing Strategy
TFA needed a way to obtain a 360-degree view of these four audiences so that they could better increase engagement and manage local/national preferences and brand control across the organization. These objectives are exactly what Marketing Cloud excels at, and the results speak for themselves: in just their first month with Marketing Cloud, TFA experienced a 42.6% open rate with their email communications, a 7.6% click-through rate, and a 30% increase in regional usage of ESP.
On these astounding results, Director of Communications Darren Kusmirek noted, “The switch to Salesforce Marketing Cloud has allowed our team to send strong, branded content while also ensuring that our contact data is up-to-date across all of our platforms. Salesforce Marketing Cloud has been easy to use and the support we’ve received from Salesforce and Cloud for Good has been incredible.”
Marketing Cloud has provided TFA with greater control of their message, which in turn grants a wider view of constituents and users, and adds a layer of dynamic variability to messaging and message delivery. Email templates were created, and audiences were automated with Marketing Cloud to improve user experience, while the constituent experience benefitted from more consistent messaging, on-brand templates, and greater control in delivering the right message at the right time according to data-backed decision-making.
Removing Barriers to Audience Entry
One of the biggest complaints TFA was hearing from its audiences was a lack of configurability and preference management in the organization’s communication. Take, for example, a corps member who lived and served with TFA in Buffalo, New York, but then moved to Miami, Florida after fulfilling their two-year teaching commitment. With the previous email system, that person would still receive Buffalo-specific communication (volunteer opportunities, event notifications, etc.) and had no option to unsubscribe from just the irrelevant content, forcing them to unsubscribe from all organization communication to stop the Buffalo emails from rolling in.
This issue led to an abnormally high unsubscribe rate that diluted the organization’s messaging effectiveness.
Through Marketing Cloud, however, a brand-new preference center was created that could remain dynamic and cater to audiences more effectively according to unique needs and interests. “Preference management has been huge for us,” said Director of Email Marketing Phillipa Boyes, “We’ve seen our unsubscribe rate go way down, and that’s because of the various audiences we can create with Marketing Cloud. We just wrapped a fundraising campaign and for the first time ended without opt-out numbers that were abnormally high.”
Prior to the move to Marketing Cloud, the last fundraising campaign featured an opt-out rate of a full 1%; the opt-out rate of the first Marketing Cloud-assisted fundraising campaign? Less than 0.5%, a huge drop-off that has the potential to dramatically improve fundraising effectiveness for the organization and its critical mission.
Where the Next Opportunities Lie
And TFA is only getting started. Moving forward, the organization has plans to start incorporating Mobile Studio, specifically for their prospective audience and corps members. These audiences feature a large percentage of Gen Z members and are the first audience that has told TFA that they prefer to be contacted through SMS, not by email. Additionally, the organization will be moving towards Interaction Studio to leverage its ability to automate the personalization of dynamic content, enhance its CRM to make more of data and automation, increase connectivity across web presences (social, Google Ads, landing pages), and even use AI to improve insights about cross-channel member journeys.
Too many children in the United States are denied access to an excellent education and Teach For America is utilizing forward-thinking technology to catalyze leadership, inspire a new generation of difference-makers, and make educational equity a reality.