Like many establishments, schools have been thrown into the “digital revolution” with little idea of how to best capture a mostly virtual lead pool. Most understand they need a website and social media accounts, but they aren’t sure how to leverage those channels for lead generation — let alone for nurturing or conversion. And educational institutions consistently struggle to integrate new marketing tools in with their existing technology, which often consists of old-school listservs and/or spreadsheets.
As an early adopter of content-based SEO and inbound marketing strategies, Kreative Webworks knew how to help bridge that gap between the old and new. The challenge was to disprove the idea that digital marketing could immediately work miracles while at the same time showing schools how to boost their enrollments with a value-driven web presence.
They found that schools were quite willing to spend money if it led to conversions. The question was: how many of their marketing efforts were truly driving qualified traffic? Of all the factors considered by prospective students, initial social media encounters or website visits were just one piece of the puzzle. So, how could conversions be properly attributed?Chuck Bankoff, President and Director of Web Services at Kreative Webworks, describes the agency as a “strategy-first organization,” and thanks to SharpSpring, they can reverse-engineer lead engagement to find an optimal mix of digital messages for their educational institution clients.
Streamlining the Tech Stack
The Right Combination of Function and Automation
According to Bankoff, Kreative Webworks’ core philosophy is to “be better at fewer things.” When an organization’s leads are difficult to generate or nurture, it’s tempting to use as many tools as possible. But that can make attribution difficult. SharpSpring’s recent State of MarTech report found that attribution was the top challenge for more than a quarter of marketers.
As the saying goes, “Less is more,” especially for educational organizations relying on “old-school” technology. Implementing a complex set of web analytics, lead generation tools, paid media platforms, etc., can inadvertently create a disjointed tech stack. And if the client doesn’t have the means to regularly manage and interpret each tool, this can completely derail their lead nurturing strategy. For example, if no one is following up on the automated replies to Facebook inquiries, it defeats the purpose of the automation.
Kreative Webworks focuses on four pillars: web, social, search, and conversion. For many clients, one tool per pillar is a great starting point — as long as they can be aligned and coordinated. Automation should close gaps rather than create new tasks!
So, the agency uses SharpSpring to integrate the web and social pillars with the client’s CRM, tracking social/website engagement and sending targeted emails or social messages to visitors. This simple, person-centric strategy delivers highly qualified leads that schools can immediately nurture and follow up on.
“For what we need to do for our clients, SharpSpring is 100% our CRM of choice.” – Chuck Bankoff
Rethinking Lead Scores and Attribution
A central hub for assessing prospects’ variable engagement
Today’s digital marketers are eager to crack the attribution code, especially when planning their budgets and campaigns. While martech makes attribution easier, the uncomfortable truth is that attribution will never be a perfect science. Leads may have dozens of touchpoints that cannot be tracked, and the moment of conversion may happen on a different channel than expected.
Marketers can learn a powerful lesson from Kreative Webworks’ clients, most of which are higher education organizations. As long as they’re getting conversions, they continue investing in their digital presence. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not always necessary (or possible) to attribute every single conversion. The beauty of marketing automation is that it can strengthen your digital presence more cost-effectively and without overworking your or your client’s staff. As long as you’re making contact with your prospects, you’re nurturing a strong relationship.
That’s not to say that attribution isn’t valuable. However, Kreative Webworks often finds that prospective students convert long after the nurture campaign was done. Conventional marketing wisdom holds that when engagement stops, the lead is lost. According to Bankoff, that may not be true. Leads may open the first couple of emails in a drip sequence, ignore the rest, then enroll months later. One would assume that other factors, such as word-of-mouth, “dark social” interactions, and print/real-world campaigns all contributed to that conversion.
“We can track activity like phone calls, emails, forms, even applications, but we can’t track actual enrollments. But we can tell if we’re doing a good job by the number of phone calls and form submissions that turn into quality leads.”– Chuck Bankoff
Kreative Webworks’ solution — and why they rely heavily on the SharpSpring platform — is to assign values to each action, even if the actual conversion is untraceable. In some cases, they don’t know if the prospective student ever enrolled, but they can track their engagement across digital channels and conduct surveys to assess their interests.
SharpSpring’s lead scoring function yields insights into how prospects navigate the school’s digital presence. And often, that’s a better predictor of conversion than step-by-step attribution. Plus, the resulting data helps guide future digital campaigns to generate qualified leads for the school — and that’s gold in higher education marketing.
From cleaning up disjointed tech stacks to developing a more predictable lead generation and nurturing pipeline, Kreative Webworks enables schools to strengthen and streamline their digital presence.
Automation helps their clients’ overworked staff send out the right messages, while a simple, data-driven approach delivers more leads who are primed to enroll. This combination of marketing automation and lead scoring makes it possible to reliably and effectively track prospects — no matter where they enter the pipeline.
The end result? SharpSpring helped Kreative Webworks cut through the noise for their clients and provide simpler tools to help educational institutions with strained resources connect with their ideal leads and enroll more new students.