Data-Driven Campaigns in Action: Q&A with Creighton University

Data-Driven Campaigns in Action: Q&A with Creighton University

An interview with Kelsey Kelly, Senior Director of Graduate School Strategic Academic Marketing, and Duey Heffelfinger, Associate Director of Admissions Operations at Creighton University.


Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University is a top-ranked Jesuit school with a tight-knit community and a passion for service. Their latest venture is in the world of data-driven campaigns? Leveraging user behavior to shape their messaging and lead flow. To better understand their philosophy behind user-driven campaign integration, we took a behind-the-scenes look at their marketing operations and strategy.  


Converge Consulting: How do you use data to improve your marketing tactics

Creighton University: Using data from a variety of sources, we’ve been able to make informed marketing decisions regarding who we’re marketing to, when and where we’re communicating with them, and what message we want to convey. Having all of this information at our fingertips allows our marketing team to be efficient and cost-effective and enables us to showcase our results.


CC: What is your technique for nurturing leads using your CRM?

CU: We stay on top of what our prospects are actively doing—whether it’s opening emails, clicking through to the website, revisiting the website for additional information, attending events or responding to outreach from our enrollment specialists. We use this information to measure the quality of our leads and then build strategies based on their engagement.


CC: How do you collect that kind of user data?

CU: Our CRM does a lot of the legwork, but additional data for each marketing campaign can be incorporated from other sources into the CRM to help us see the big picture. By doing this, we can connect our marketing spend to a specific student profile, measure how our efforts are doing and identify if prospects are matriculating into students.


CC: What advantages are there to grouping audiences into funnel stages?

CU: Different messages resonate with audiences in different parts of the funnel. For example, if you’re just starting to research your graduate school options, you may not be ready to apply. The option to start your application is always there, but it’s not always our focus. We have unique messaging and calls-to-action at each stage of the funnel.

This is something that our content strategist spends a lot of time reviewing and mapping for our team. We develop content based on which audience we’re targeting and which stage of the funnel they’re in to help push them to the next step.


CC: How do you measure success?

CU: We have enrollment goals for each graduate program. Our internal reporting dashboards help us identify which stages of the sales funnel are performing best and which ones need attention. We can also see where we’re meeting goals, which helps narrow our focus to places where we could improve strategies.


CC: How have your reporting habits changed after exploring different types of user data?

CU: I believe our team has grown significantly together and each member is connecting everyday efforts to the overall goals of our unit. We are all under the understanding that every marketing and recruitment effort needs to be tracked and documented. Without this understanding, we wouldn’t be able to see the full picture or effectively make decisions.

Full funnel visibility is extremely important. Every single person on our team needs to be aware of our enrollment goals, which efforts affect which stage of the funnel and how we’re moving prospects closer to enrollment. If we aren’t all moving in the same direction, goals simply won’t be met and our graduate programs won’t grow.


CC: What types of user-centric campaigns do you plan to use in the future?

CU: One of our goals for this upcoming year is to become more user-driven and allow the prospect to opt into content we know is relevant to their career or personal interests. We want to consistently engage with prospects in a way we know is relevant, customizable and aligns with their needs. Ultimately, we seed the idea that our degree programs can fill a skills gap and be their next step.


CC: What advice would you offer other schools looking to incorporate broader sets of user data into their campaigns?

CU: All decisions can be informed by data. Regardless of your team or resources, there is a wealth of information that’s readily available to help you make smart, data-driven business decisions for your unit. Don’t be afraid of (or overwhelmed by) the data—embrace it!


CC: What tools or capabilities do you want to explore next?

CU: We’re focusing our time and efforts to move away from generic responses and making decisions based on “mass audiences”. This involves researching capabilities within our existing platforms to help us achieve more personalized communications and strategies for our prospective students.

This isn’t earth shattering, but it’s a complex and time-intensive effort. We feel like a personalized experience prior to enrollment will set the tone for the experience we know our students will have as soon as they start classes at Creighton University.


How are you embracing data to impact your marketing?

Whether you are just getting started with a CRM to better understand and track your user data or you’ve got a well-established framework for your enrollment journey, there is always something you can do to improve the student experience with your brand. Testing something cool that we should know about? Tweet us @convergeorg. Our next EDU Q&A could be with you and your team.


Hannah Burks
Hannah Burks
June 20, 2018