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Boosting international student conversion rates by 32% with Oracle Service Cloud
"The benefits Service Cloud has delivered are unparalleled. We have reduced our staffing, outsourced marketing, and international mail costs.”Charles Brooks, eMarketing Coordinator
Victoria University of Wellington wanted to grow its international student population, specifically the number of students studying postgraduate courses. To achieve this goal, the university needed to efficiently manage hundreds of enquiries from prospective international students and update its communication methods to better connect with potential students. It implemented the Oracle Service Cloud solution (formerly known as RightNow) to establish a single cloud-based student management system to improve the speed and quality of response to student enquiries, and better plan and execute new marketing strategies to recruit more international students.
The university can now respond to 560 student enquiries per week within one to two days, compared to four to six days previously. It has also reduced the number of enquiries it has to respond to by 25%, by establishing a knowledge base to provide students with searchable information online. More targeted recruitment campaigns have enabled the university to increase the number of acceptances from overseas students by 32%.
The university’s conversation with prospective students from overseas typically begins electronically, since the phone may be impractical because of cost or time-zone differences. Prospective students can look for information in the university’s Oracle Service Cloud-powered self-service knowledge base, which contains details on courses, university regulations, and fees and finances.
These pages provide students with much of the general information they need. This means staff can dedicate more time to providing tailored responses to specific enquiries and monitor and manage 100 enquiries per day, which are received in person or via e-mail, through the centralised platform.
As a result, the International Student Office has maintained a steady international student headcount since 2005, despite a rise in the number of international suppliers of education. It has also reduced the number of temporary staff hired during peak recruitment periods.
When searching for information, prospects can ‘opt in’ to the Victoria University of Wellington’s e-mail program, which is also powered by Oracle Service Cloud. Once a prospect is entered into the Oracle Service Cloud database, every interaction with that prospect is tracked. Over time, the university learns more about the prospect and can monitor where he or she is at in the decision-making process.
Oracle Service Cloud also gives the university complete flexibility to mix-and-match content to create highly individualized messages that touch on each prospect’s likely concerns. A message may therefore combine information about curriculum, housing and financial aid if the Oracle Service Cloud database indicates that those issues could all impact the prospect’s decision.
In addition, Oracle Service Cloud enables the university to ‘trigger’ messages based on any number of conditions. It can broadcast a message to all prospective law students simultaneously, or send customised reminders to students whose applications are late with specific information about their chosen program of study and/or the particular decision factors they have already expressed concern about.
Victoria University of Wellington can now generate as many as 34,000 customised marketing e-mails per year to up to 10 000 prospective students in over 110 countries, including the US, Malaysia, and China. “Using the Oracle Service Cloud system’s e-mail customisation feature, we can create and send targeted e-mails to a particular market or age group according to region, category, or topic, such as availability of housing, student life, and post-graduation work opportunities,” said Brooks.
“We achieved a 50% e-mail open rate and 15% click-through rate on customised e-mails.”
“Our biggest objective in e-marketing isn’t to send out a lot of messages,” he said. “It’s to send out the best possible message at the best possible time to everyone who is considering coming here. With Oracle Service Cloud, our only limitation to achieving this objective is in how wisely we can define rules and content for our messages. The system can do anything we want it to do.”
Using the Oracle Service Cloud system to develop more targeted recruitment campaigns has enabled the university to achieve its objective of attracting more students from overseas. “By diversifying our markets and refining our recruitment strategies, we increased the number of acceptances we received from international students by 32%
The Oracle Service Cloud platform has enabled the university to execute new marketing strategies using social communication tools and tailor its recruitment campaigns to suit specific markets.
“We attend university and careers fairs overseas to talk about the courses and opportunities our university offers,” said Brooks. “However, they are costly and required a lot of time away from the office. With the new system, we have automated a lot of our marketing processes and were able to develop new communication tools such as our online degree planner to drive our recruitment marketing without physically being in a particular country.
The Oracle Service Cloud system represents a significant investment for the university, but the benefits it has delivered are unparalleled. We have reduced our staffing, outsourced marketing, and international mail costs.
More importantly, we were able to implement significant innovations—such as mixing and matching content to create highly individualised messages to prospective students — without growing our operational budgets over the period.”
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