Charles Sturt University

Marketing Automation


Social Garden and Charles Sturt University’s partnership began in October 2017, with the delivery of a multi-episode webinar series as part of the University’s recruitment drive for the semester 1 2018 intake. The partnership has since evolved into a dynamic relationship, with Social Garden now their specialist Marketing Automation partner.

Following the webinar series, Social Garden and Charles Sturt University embarked on a larger project to optimise the conversion experience for prospective students by establishing cross-faculty marketing automation protocols. The project involved a series of sprint based projects involving; an audit of Charles Sturt’s marketing automation infrastructure and website integration, recommendations for improvement and technical build, a review of the current conversion process and workshops to design the future ‘customer first’ experience, a report and LucidChart demonstration of the ideal future state including segmented nurtures streams by student personas and CRM conversion stages, a contact centre integration program including CRM process integration, social media integration strategy and enablement, reporting and team enablement including training.

More recently, Social Garden collaborated with the Charles Sturt University team to launch the University’s new brand. Including the go-to-market automation strategy and campaign delivery, as well as the delivery of three sub-campaigns to support this.


The Implementation

Campaign type and volumes

Forming an important step within the application process, the webinar series helped prospects that were still evaluating their options. The webinars were hosted and delivered in the GoToWebinar platform; however, the lead generation and management were delivered through an omni-channel campaign encompassing Marketo, social media, web and digital content channels. Overall the channels reached thousands of prospective students, including 40,000 contacts within Charles Sturt’s marketing automation platform through six email/SMS nurture campaigns.

Campaign assets included; 36 emails variants, 6 SMS sends, 7 landing pages, 6 custom designed PowerPoint packs and 6 webinar projects. All landing page, SMS and email marketing assets were developed in Marketo and integrated with GoToWebinar. This delivered a seamless user experience for prospective students, while simultaneously providing live analytics.

Building on the learnings from the project, Charles Sturt University looked to Social Garden to capitalise and increase their existing application and offer rates through the implementation of a strategic lifecycle marketing program to keep applicants engaged from application through to commencement.

Social Garden developed a student-centric lifecycle marketing program that is responsive to the applicant’s behaviour and proactive at engaging them. Moreover, the program brought together different business units from across the university and established a cross-functional approach for marketing automation across social, content, call centre (conversion), CRM, web and marketing automation teams.
To support the establishment of Marketo as a core platform, Social Garden worked with Charles Sturt’s digital, web, content and marketing automation teams to develop the strategy and execution of several nurture campaigns to launch the new Charles Sturt University brand to an audience of over 22,000 contacts.

Campaign assets delivered by the Social Garden team included;

LucidChart diagrams of campaign flows and strategy including content themes, the design and development of multiple landing page templates, a master email template and the development of multiple email variants and landing pages.


Social Garden and Charles Sturt University’s partnership was established in October 2017 with the activation of the webinar series. In mid-2018 the partnership evolved. Together we saw the opportunity to increase existing application and offer rates, through the implementation of a strategic Marketo automation program. A series of cross-team workshop sessions were run, which enabled Social Garden to devise a roadmap and strategy to deliver a cross-functional marketing conversion lifecycle program made up of a number of campaigns.

A technical audit of the existing campaigns in Charles Sturt University’s marketing automation and CRM platforms, as well as collaborative workshop discussions with their marketing teams, allowed Social Garden to determine Charles Sturt University’s ideal future state. This included a conversion lifecycle development program that redefined the customer experience from enquiry through to orientation.

Customer journey mapping in the university context is complex. No one student takes the same path to enrolment. To further complicate this, access to purchase at a university is traditionally restricted to specific time periods; however, these timeframes don’t always resonate with customers. A journey to study can be triggered by multiple events so Social Garden took this opportunity to redesign the student enrolment experience to meet the needs and interests of prospects at varying stages. The redesign proposed contains multiple, non-linear journeys across each of the channels Charles Sturt University’s key personas frequent. As a result, the duration of each nurture program is dynamic depending on an individual’s stage.

The conversion lifecycle nurture program has been designed to entail five nurture programs representative of stages within Charles Sturt University’s CRM. The concept is that when a lead’s status is updated in the CRM they are triggered to move into the corresponding nurture. The nurtures are designed to be elastic, regardless of the time it takes for a lead to convert to the next stage. Whether this is a week or a month, the idea is that leads will receive content relative to their position in the enrolment journey. The proposed program encompasses an omni-channel strategy with direction on how paid social channels can be integrated to enable cross-channel nurturing.

A critical component with any marketing lifecycle program is driving the connection between brand and customer. A major project in 2019 has been the re-launch of the University’s brand. With a desire to ensure tactical, responsive and customer-centric marketing was included as part of the band launch, together with Social Garden the University leaned on marketing automation to help set the new brand in motion. This launch involved the creation of a branded HTML campaign and landing page developed in the marketing automation platform. This was complemented with a 3-week nurture campaign, supported by trigger emails and social media integration.

To further establish the new brand and drive recruitment activities for upcoming intakes, Social Garden developed three event-based nurture campaigns each encompassing their own landing pages and email variants. With strict deadlines and multiple stakeholders working across the projects, the Social Garden team stepped up to ensure a successful launch for the University.


Any omni-channel, cross-platform or cross-functional solution that feeds into a considered purchase service like higher education is complex. What’s more, universities are inherently complex organisations. As with any large organisation, the technology stack is a mammoth task to manage. Each platform has its own unique data management functionalities; furthermore, each team has its own uses and expectations.

The Marketing Lifecycle partnership between Social Garden and Charles Sturt University has been a collaboration across a wide range of teams (CRM, web, social media, content and call centre) with the holistic aim of improving and enhancing the student recruitment experience and driving growth for the University. At the core of the conversion optimisation program, we looked to build a solution to allow the call centre (conversion) team to proactively nurture leads flagged as at risk of deferring or declining during the application phase of their journey.

The project started with Social Garden’s Marketing Automation team delivering an audit of the existing use of Lead Scoring and behavioural tracking.

This was followed by a strategy that aligned to a new conversion framework where important behavioural triggers were leveraged for nurture & contact centre integration.

The strategy was then translated into Marketo and a platform was built to automatically share important data collected from the website, CRM and Marketing Automation platform to the call centre.

Leveraging the sync between CRM and marketing automation meant we were able to build automated trigger alerts for students who had received an offer and had taken an action on the website such as viewed the deferred page but hasn’t deferred alerting the call centre. This allowed them to proactively take the necessary steps to communicate with the prospect and reduce the risk of attrition. The Sales Alerts function within Marketo was leveraged to pass over key information to the call centre via email, and a live dashboard recording all alerts were built by Social Garden using Google Docs and Zapier integration software.

With the call centre working within the CRM, Social Garden’s developers designed a technical solution to automatically pass key data back to the CRM from Marketo.



The sync between CRM data and Marketo has enabled our teams to have the ability to report on tangible outcomes from campaign activity. For the webinar series, we exceeded industry benchmarks for both open rate and click-through rate and also found 23% of registrations went on to apply with Charles Sturt University. For the career expo series, our campaigns resulted in over 230 new tracking contacts, with 6% of contacts going on to register for an event. Across the brand launch project, we exceeded forecasted results for both open and click-through rates.

As an ongoing partnership, we constantly evaluate the value we drive for the organisation. One of the most beneficial outcomes of the conversion lifecycle program has been the establishment and integration of marketing automation across the different business units involved in the student recruitment process.

The call centre now has a custom-built solution and dashboard where they leverage important behavioural data collected within Marketo to flag prospects who are at risk of declining or deferring. Through the project, collaboration with the web services team has driven internal education around how the site architecture impacts what data we can and cannot be collected through marketing automation.

Further, we have been able to capitalise on the integration between the CRM and marketing automation to ensure prospects receive communications that correlate directly with their stage in the CRM or enrolment process. Working with the social media team we have enabled marketing automation to drive efficiencies in paid advertising channels by dynamically integrating data from Marketo into the ad platforms to build exclusion, lookalike and custom audience segments.


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