The real workhorse – the bread and butter – of Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (MCAE, formerly known as Pardot) is Engagement Studio. Designed to nurture prospective students and constituents, Engagement Studio uses visual workflows, commonly referred to as journeys, that you design based on specific criteria you feel are important, such as engagement or data you’ve collected on the prospect/constituent. These automated workflows ultimately determine which path your prospect will follow through the entire journey.
There are many benefits to using Engagement Studio, including the ability to automate communications and remove the labor-intensive, ad hoc nature of email sending. In this blog, we will highlight these benefits as well as some of the most popular use cases we’ve worked on in the nonprofit and higher education spaces.
Benefits of Engagement Studio
Engagement Studio has numerous benefits but the most impactful is the ability to pair automation with personalization. When you personalize prospect/constituent experience based on what you know about your subscriber, you can trigger messages that resonate with your subscriber’s interest. By using decision splits in Engagement Studio’s journey architecture, you can customize different subscriber experiences, based on the data you’ve gathered on your constituent. To put it in simpler terms, if A is true, the prospect will follow path 1; if A is false, they will follow path 2. As your prospect flows through each decision split, their path through the journey will be determined based on the data you set for your campaign. Let’s explore this a bit further.
Engagement Studio Architecture, Strategy, & Data
The power of Engagement Studio lies in your ability to decide what data is most important and how to use those data points to architect how your constituents will flow through the journey, and ultimately what messaging your subscribers will receive. Marketers have certain goals in common – for nonprofits, that might be a donation or a volunteer; for higher ed institutions, an inquiry or an application submission. As you begin to build out your Engagement Studio journey think about how your organization can use your data to personalize and engage your subscribers to take action, whether it’s for donations, volunteers, inquiries, or applications.
A recent Salesforce survey found that 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. As you begin to think through what your journey will look like, it’s important to remember that your journey architecture and personalization strategy must work together hand in hand. Mapping and prioritizing interactions with your prospects is essential when it comes to building your journey and personalization strategy. Similarly, it’s critical to determine what data points you will need to reference for both architecture and personalization purposes. It’s necessary to answer the following questions before beginning to lay out your journey in Engagement Studio:
- What is the goal of the journey? What metrics define success?
- Who will be included in the journey? What criteria, if any, need to be set for segmenting the audience?
- What marketing assets should be included in the journey? Is there existing content that could be used or re-purposed? What content will need to be created?
- What is the personalization strategy for the journey? What data points will be needed for personalization and decision splits?
- What is the timeline for the journey? How long and how many points of contact would you like to make with your subscribers?
When strategizing about personalization and the journey’s architecture, ensure you can personalize communications where needed, identify topics of interest, and better understand which marketing efforts resonate with your constituents. And, most importantly, ensure your constituent or student is receiving the right content at the right time, based on the data you’ve collected from them.
So why is data so critical to journey strategy, architecture, and personalization? Because data informs every single step of the journey, from the entry point to the content they are receiving, even when they exit the journey. For instance, the recipient list for the journey could be all prospective students with an interest in a particular program. This data, found on the prospect record, would be used to add those students to the recipient list, and they would then flow into the journey. If a prospective student applies, you might want them to immediately exit from the journey, or perhaps flow into another journey geared towards the application-to-enrollment process. These data points, coupled with several others we’ll discuss below, are all used in decision splits throughout the journey to guide the prospect down the appropriate path. This allows you to deliver the most personalized, custom experience to your prospects through a completely automated process.
Using these data points, you can further your marketing efforts in several ways, including:
- Add to a list you’ll use for future, personalized communications
- Add to a list that is the entry point for a subsequent journey
- Update default and custom prospect fields
- Create tasks in Salesforce to further nurture the constituent
- Add to a Salesforce campaign
Nonprofit and Higher Education Use Cases
While there are myriad use cases for Engagement Studio in the nonprofit and higher education sectors, let’s highlight four of those with high impact that we are most commonly asked to build for clients.
Common Engagement Studio Programs for Nonprofits
A welcome series is just what it sounds like – a series of emails designed to welcome new constituents to your organization.
In the nonprofit space, this is often a welcome email, followed by subsequent emails showcasing the organization’s mission, and information specific to any topics that might be of interest to the constituent, such as info on volunteering, donation requests, etc. This allows you to automate communication with new subscribers – both saving you time and providing a better, more consistent experience for your subscribers. Additionally, this automation enables you to personalize communications to new constituents based on their engagement with your content, ensuring your subscribers are seeing the information that’s most important to them.
Lapsed Donor Re-Engagement Series
Nonprofits need engaged donors actively helping their missions. Sometimes a donor becomes unengaged and stops proactively donating. Using Engagement Studio to create a lapsed donor re-engagement journey can be highly effective in reaching those donors who’ve given to your cause in the past but haven’t within a recent, specific period. By identifying past donors that haven’t given in the last year (or whatever timeframe you choose), you can target your messaging to these lapsed donors by providing updates on organization objectives and priorities, special pushes for donations (if applicable), info on donor tiers and the benefits of each, and in general help your lapsed donors to reconnect with your org.
Common Engagement Studio Programs for Higher Education
In higher education, oftentimes institutions will create a welcome series for new students that includes emails with information on upcoming events to keep you connected on campus, details on the school or program the student has enrolled in, dates to remember such as drop/add or next semester registration deadlines, payment dates, etc. Providing this type of information in a welcome series allows Institutions to proactively nurture new students and provide critical information.
Inquiry to Application Series
Many of our higher ed clients mention the need to streamline their recruitment process with an automated journey that encourages prospective students to apply from an inquiry submission. This series ushers prospective students through a journey that proactively provides them with the information they need to make an informed decision on applying to the institution. Upon their inquiry submission, prospects can receive an email confirming their request for information. Subsequent emails could include information on the program or school of interest for the prospect, info on financial aid, as well as opportunities for the prospect to connect with student admissions faculty that can work with them one-on-one to answer their questions or guide them through the application process.
The above use cases are just four of the many ways our clients utilize Engagement Studio – with journeys in Engagement Studio, the sky can be the limit. No matter how you decide to use journeys within Engagement Studio, you and your team are enabled to have more personalized, meaningful engagement with constituents and current or prospective students. By showing that you understand your constituent’s needs and wants, and tailoring your communications to those data points, your marketing efforts will provide a unique experience and engage your target constituents at every step of their journey, bringing higher impact to your targeted marketing efforts. Perhaps most importantly, all of this is done through automation, resulting in a less labor-intensive process for marketers and more time to focus on strategy and analysis of current marketing efforts. It’s a win-win for your prospects and you.
To learn more about what Engagement Studio can do for your organization or institution, contact Cloud for Good today.