#MarketingExcellenceAwards MY 2020 highlight: How Taylor's built the right marketing team to cut through clutter

Marketing in the education industry is a competitive one, with competition growing even more intense due to aggressive marketing campaigns and a barrage of marketing messages to create brand differentiation. This over-reliance on creative and marketing expertise to promote brands was putting a strain on marketing budgets, and the COVID-19 pandemic also impacted budgets. Having experienced the crisis of SARS in 2003 and invested heavily in digital technologies, Taylor’s knew that it was not the time for it to rest on its laurels. Hence, it decided to invest and innovate once again, and its digital journey has led the education institution to win bronze for Excellence in Marketing Innovation at A+M’s Marketing Excellence Awards 2020.

Challenge

Conventional marketing was thrown out the window during the COVID-19 and the RMCO, and marketers shifted focus to digital marketing and mediums. It was important for brands to be able to take advantage of the situation and also manoeuvre through the chaos, and this was something Taylor’s Education Group understood well.

Back in 2003, the university invested RM50 million into online learning systems and technologies to combat a pandemic situation. This investment did not just stop with academic learning technologies. To compete and outright beat the competition marketing-wise, Taylor’s knew that it would require investments into new digital solutions, marketing technologies, and the right marketing team to drive it forward.

Strategy

In 2018, the university planned to invest heavily into its digital marketing and marketing technology capabilities. The objective was to build a digital marketing transformation architecture to enable a seamless digital prospect student experience throughout the enrolment funnel.

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Achieving this required an overhaul of processes and structures within the Taylor’s marketing and cmmunication’s department, and efforts were centred on three core focus areas.

1. Build in-house capabilities

The first was around building an in-house team that was closer to ground, understood the business needs, and had specific talents built to drive digital capabilities. This in turn was intended to drive faster turn-around times on marketing campaigns while experimenting with new technologies and solutions and building core capabilities and skills in-house at the same time.

2. Strengthen digital touchpoints

The second was around improving capabilities around key digital touchpoints that Taylor’s used as touchpoints with prospective students. The priority was given towards strengthening its capabilities around its digital assets, such as social media and websites. The university believed that doing this would strengthen itsdigital footprint considerably while also building the key foundations to deliver on the next core focus area.

3. Create personalised digital experiences

The third was around using the data gathered via its digital touchpoints to enhance both the online and offline customer experience. First-party data gathered from its digital touchpoints would allow Taylor’s to deploy retargeting and personalisation experiences across its digital assets, as well as provide invaluable inputs for on-ground recruitment activities

Execution

Delivery of the digital transformation plans would prove to be daunting. Onboarding any digital solution required considerable resources, effort and time to execute on in normal situations.

1. Building the team

Kickstarting the new digital architecture led Taylor’s to build an entirely new team around this new direction. The new teams were built around driving each of the core focus areas within its digital architecture solution and consisted of:

A) A performance marketing team to optimise media buy, alongside a design studio team consisting of copywriters and designers to build creative assets and ideation in-house;

B) A social content and community team to drive traffic based on content and bring a strong existing student and alumni community together; and

C) A digital experience team to oversee its data collection ecosystem, and to use this data to create new digital experiences and enhance recruitment efforts using personalised data.

The new team would establish a new culture and mindset within the department, while building and experimenting with new capabilities at the same time.

2. Strengthen digital touchpoints

On social media, content marketing took centre-stage with a strong emphasis on community. This took a sharper turn with the onset of COVID-19, where keeping the community together through engagement, content, and information sharing became its modus operandi.

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Its websites were revamped with a new design in 2018 on Adobe Experience Manager. The web experience team focused in enhancing content and user experience throughout 2019. Together with the writers team, trending keyword articles were being added to the site alongside new information and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, and the university’s e-learning and borderless learning approach during the crisis.

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3. Create personalised digital experiences

The university’s lead touchpoints were also enhanced to provide bespoke digital experiences. This took several forms - a chatbot on its live chat, a customisable digital prospectus, a personalised digital Open Day and its lead generation forms.

Information captured from user browsing behaviour and their personalisation selections were fed to the school’s performance marketing team using Adobe Media Optimiser for remarketing and retargeting purposes. The same data was also fed to its web personalisation tool, Adobe Target, which allowed Taylor’s to create new experiences using the same website based on their initial web behavior profile.

First-party data was also captured as lead data within its Salesforce CRM to provide counsellors with information about the lead. The data provided insights for the recruitment team to infer on possible interest areas, and opened up potential conversation options. This allowed for deeper interactions with prospects and improved counsellor’s conversion rates.

Results

Taylor’s saw a spike in web traffic to its corporate and commercial marketing sites amidst COVID-19. This was largely driven by a combination of paid media campaigns that drove traffic to site, and content marketing campaigns on social media throughout the year. Taylor’s also saw an increase in social media mentions compared to its main competitors.

As a result of its focused efforts on creating Instagram content, its university and colleges pages also grew their number of followers. The introduction of new digital innovations, combined with a team structure built around those innovations, allowed Taylor’s to navigate the crisis that was COVID-19 and stand out from the crowd.

While the digital transformation for the Taylor’s marketing team is still ongoing, the positive results it has seen show that its efforts are gaining traction and proves that it is taking a step in the right direction.