#MarketingExcellenceAwards MY 2020 highlight: Taylor's virtual pivot scores high in Open Day engagement

Social distancing restrictions have no doubt impacted physical events in Malaysia, and for education institutions, this includes recruitment events which are also crucial to its business. Taylor’s Education Group, for example, was well aware that its business performance would be impacted as most of its students are enrolled in-person on campus. Undeterred, the education institution quickly pivoted its Open Day weekend last year to a virtual one overnight and its quick thinking led the brand to win bronze for Excellence in Customer Engagement at A+M’s Marketing Excellence Awards 2020.

Challenge

Taylor’s had been heavily promoting the Open Day weekend on the 14 and 15 of March last year to capture the March intake. According to the education institution, hundreds of appointments were made by prospective parents and students and it was expected to be the single biggest revenue generating intake out of the three intakes – January, March and August – for 2020.

However, the pandemic threw a wrench in Taylor’s plans and on 11 March, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. As a result, it had to cancel the Open Day weekend the night before on 13 March. It did not take long for the university to realise that going virtual was the only move it could take and it had to convert all customer touchpoints into digital channels overnight, while ensuring internal counselling teams are equipped and prepared to keep customers engaged.

Another challenge Taylor’s had to overcome was whether prospective parents and students will remain engaged with the brand as it shifted online. However, Taylor’s adopted the mindset that despite social distancing, it would not be a community disconnected. As such, it got to thinking bigger and asking itself: “What if we stopped playing the victim of circumstances and start acting like the leader that Taylor’s is?”

From there, it set out with the following objectives:

1. Be relevant to stay engaged with its students; and
2. Establish Taylor’s as a leader in times of crisis to inspire hope for the future for its current and prospective student community.

As a result, the Taylor’s E-Summit was conceptualised.

Strategy

Within a short span of time, Taylor’s was forced to rethink and reexamine its customer journeys. Its usual customer journey funnel is based on the pathway below, also known as the customer experience funnel. Its funnel centres around the customer, who they are, their need-states and behaviours.

taylors cx 1

However, the moment Open Day weekend was cancelled, the funnel was reconfigured to reflect a pathway similar to that of the new figure below.

taylors cx 2

According to Taylor’s, the funnel’s structure changed overnight because it hinged on the customer whose need-states and behaviours also changed. When the MCO was announced, its online-to-offline customer journey was rendered irrelevant in a day.

The focus of its new funnel was personalised experience for consumers. To deliver this, its customer engagement model was based on the strategic pillars of people and structure; content; and technology.

taylors cx 3

Taylor’s explained that the right people with the right mindset takes ownership and accountability of the customer journey. With the right individuals come the speed to act and be nimble in the structure to make changes quickly.

Content delivers the personalised communication in an authentic and conversational way to keep customers interested and engaged. Meanwhile the technology in the university’s case, represents the Adobe Experience Cloud which is used to personalise experiences at scale.

To bring personalised experiences to life, Taylor’s made it its priority to focus on providing support, care and reassurance to the community. It accelerated its digital efforts to broaden its reach to prospects and students confined at home who were seeking guidance, insights and understanding of the impact of the virus.

The rapid shift to digital saw it develop a strong leadership presence online with the Taylor’s E-Summit. With wide ranging topics from a diverse set of leaders, the university delivered a live weekend online event packed with insightful and engaging discourse between panellists and the audience.

According to Taylor’s its quick response to market was possible as had been organising Open Day events online since December 2019. At the time as it is today, the intention was for Taylor’s to expand its reach to prospects locally and regionally, by bringing its campus experiences to them while in the comfort of their homes.

By the time it worked on Taylor’s E-Summit, the university had its learnings from previous events to position itself at the forefront with stronger delivery, enhanced digital interactive experience, and key insights catered to its  customers’ needs.

Execution

In all its efforts for Taylor’s E-Summit, the university focused on creating an enhanced experience for its prospects and students beyond the regular video conferencing. With an emphasis on making it interactive and customised to cater to their area of interests, it personalised emails and texts to attendees, and streamlined their experience of the event based on their session selection.

taylors cx 4

1. Wide-ranging topics covered by experts in the field

With the world reimagining the new normal and the way institutions should reinvent themselves, Taylor’s decided to bring together leaders from all sectors, from medical to arts and technology and business, to delve deeper into each sector to share their insights. Its offering of wide-ranging topics with experts in each sector allowed its prospects to better understand and prepare themselves to confidently adapt to the new norm.

2. Personalised experience

Its prospects’ interests in particular sessions also offered the university data to personalised their digital experience for the event, from receiving personalised emails and texts to a direct link that takes them to attend their session of interest. For instance, if a prospect was interested in the area of business and law, they will be directed to the event site with their own agenda, panelists, and content catered specifically to both business and law.

taylors cx 5

3. Live-streaming and live engagement

It wanted to broaden its reach to target not only local students but also international ones. To do so, Taylor’s created live streams for the E-Summit, which also allowed for content to be tailored to its audiences’ needs. It also integrated the videos to a third-party tool to allow for live Q&A with its panellists and live polls for audience engagement.

4. Fully-digital promotion

To promote the event, it went on a fully-digital campaign – organic and paid. Besides broadcasting the event to its internal community, it also worked closely with paid media partners to have this promoted on their website as banners and advertorials. On social media, Taylor’s shared recaps of the sessions to further engage with audiences post-session and event, and to offer key points to inspire others who did not attend.

Results

Its website banners on Sin Chew and The Star had higher than average click through rates sand impressions as a result of the attractive and vibrantly coloured visuals.

taylors cx 7

taylors cx 8

Meanwhile, its social ads also performed higher than average on both Instagram and Facebook.

taylors cx 9

According to Taylor’s the true test of its effectiveness in customer engagement was the student enrolments done digitally. Compared the August intake with the March one, Taylor’s noted that student enrolment of individuals who did not visit the campus jumped exponentially. The university said these results can be attributed to the effectiveness of its engagement with prospective students digitally and keeping them assured of the quality of education at Taylor’s.