Enrollment Success Through Slate.
Albion College, a distinguished liberal arts institution nestled in the heart of Michigan, has a storied history of providing students with a transformative educational experience.
However, in an increasingly competitive landscape, they like so many others faced a significant challenge: adapt to the changing dynamics of student recruitment or be late to the game and suffer the consequences come census time in the fall.
Enter Slate—the go-to CRM for higher education that would prove to be a powerful tool and the linchpin of Albion’s ambitious overhaul. Now enter Waybetter—a long-time, trusted partner that was tasked with upgrading the Slate instance. Albion’s wish list was like so many others: revolutionize outreach across all populations, fully harness rules and automation to streamline internal processes, and bottom line—attract and engage the informed, tech-savvy Gen Z students every institution so desperately seeks.
It’s important to know where Albion started, and it can be summed up with two words—manual and generic.
Manual: So many processes tied to enrollment were powered by people (and paper!). Things like designating academic scholarships or assisting international students with the necessary I-20 documentation. And it wasn’t a great experience for anyone. Internally, this would bog down the admissions team transferring data between systems, and for students, the required items lived in different portals with different login credentials, and most times, asked for redundant information.
Generic: When it came to attracting students and getting them to convert at all stages in the funnel, Albion relied heavily on traditional methods like mass mailings and generic email campaigns. None of which were targeted with dynamic content based on grad year, status (think prospect, inquiry, awaiting submission, awaiting materials, etc.), major of interest, or location. Engagement was not where it should be and Albion knew there were plenty of students left to win.
Their Slate instance was out of the box—not custom to Albion’s needs or processes, and not positioned to maximize conversion and drive deposits.
The Better Way
Albion already had the tool in place. Slate is the go-to CRM of the higher education world for a reason, but now it was time to overhaul the existing implementation to push the platform to be the high-powered enrollment marketing engine that Albion needed.
First, Waybetter conducted a comprehensive Slate audit—an evaluation of over 500 items, scored with a custom rubric, which precisely identified all areas of optimization, and specifically the populations and recruitment processes the instance needed to support.
Armed with the audit’s clear roadmap, the Waybetter team was ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
1. Data Infrastructure: Everything starts with data—it’s the bedrock of any CRM. The Waybetter team first sought to rightfully migrate some person-scoped fields to application-scoped ones to ensure stored data was usable and trackable across queries and reports. Next, and this is a common pitfall, the field storing academic interest was converted from multi-select to single-select to allow for all the great marketing automation to come. Finally, to ensure consistency of data collection, the team normalized field collection across all forms and major entry points into the system, which ensured a standard profile was being collected for every student.
2. Portal: Your student status portal is one of the most critical touchpoints with students. It’s where they reference checklists, view their admission decision, and ultimately, make their choice. Waybetter took Albion’s portal from generic to completely custom with a look and feel entirely aligned with their carefully curated brand and with explicit to-do’s for the student all throughout the process.
The portal was also now a one-stop-shop, serving students from the point of application through deposit and enrollment. This is great news for the student only having to keep track of one user login, and it was even better news for internal staff. What was once a tangled web of form conditions and requisite steps was now a clear-cut checklist with automated fulfillment rules on the back end. Housing forms, academic assessments, student health records, parking permits—all the critical items needed for enrollment were now managed in Slate.
But, it wasn’t all business—this portal also brought the FUN. Students participated in monthly trivia and were able to connect with future classmates. Initiatives that once were housed in other platforms now lived in Slate and drove students back to a singular place where Albion always controlled the narrative (and the student’s next call to action!).
3. Campaigns: With everything now configured, it was time to drive traffic (because what good is a beautiful portal if no one sees it?!). First, populations and associated rules were created for all audiences—every grad year, every status, every student type. Each campaign had a simple, defined goal, which was to advance students through the admission funnel, always encouraging them to take the next step. And with the precise configuration of all populations, Albion was assured no student was left behind. No one wants a leaky funnel!
Email templates and content creation came next. Templates that are battle-tested, mobile responsive, and inherently isolate the main goal of the message and encourage attention and conversion. And content that is carefully crafted for each segment using the systematically curated data profile of each student. Targeting a Senior biology student living in-state? Liquid markup and content blocks make variable content easy to implement and even easier to manage over time.
Slate is a powerful platform, but ultimately it’s just a tool playing a critical role in your overall admission strategy. And when that tool is fully harnessed, the results speak for themselves—they certainly did for Albion.
Now backed by a best-in-class Slate instance, Albion saw significant gains across all important KPIs. The platform was positioned now and in the future to drive enrollment with a configuration that would prove to be a sustainable solution standing the test of time.