Case Study: Measurable Student Recruitment

Caroline Schmidt, Director of Sales and Marketing at Bendigo Kangan Institute, works with Social Garden to acquire students through digital channels that can be accurately tracked against application and enrolment outcomes.


Caroline Schmidt

So I work for Bendigo Kangan Institute which is one of the largest TAFES in Victoria whilst we have over 200 courses and quite a large breadth of product. We also specialize in health so we have a Centre of Health and Community Excellence in Bendigo and we also have the Automotive Centre of Excellence in Docklands. So, my role with Bendigo Kangan Institute is effectively the Director of Sales and Marketing. So I look after a large team of individuals who attract students to Bendigo Kangan Institute who also then do the enrollment process and we process over 25,000 enrollments in the year. So when I joined Kangan Institute before it was merged with Bendigo TAFE, I found that our media strategy was very much designed around above the line. So we had a bit of a set and forget plan where we bought lots of press, radio, billboards, lots of leader advertising and a very small component of digital and when we dug into our understanding of digital, we realised that really we were buying digital because someone said digital was a good thing not because we had any real plan around how it should be used or any understanding or intelligence around whether it was a profitable channel.

So at the time that Social Garden approached us, I have had a couple of other suppliers come and speak to us and the thing that was different was the suppliers who were talking to me or the vendors who talked to me at the time were all interested in engagement. They were all interested in writing content and making my Facebook page look amazing and I very much had the position of show me the money, you know, I was like I’m not I’m not really interested in having lots of likes and lots of follows, I want money, I want acquisition, I want it measured to the application or measured to the enrolment so I know that, that channel is driving that behaviour and Social Garden was the first vendor who said we can actually achieve that and they did so we were able to actually track all the way through to application and then we could match from that point to enrolment so I got a really good sense of conversion off that channel.

So, it’s been a five-year kind of relationship. And in the early days we really were in a market that other people weren’t operating in. So we had early wins. Social Garden’s capability increased and improved over time. As did ours and our understanding of our customer base. So in terms of results that there was a period of time where I would have said something like 30 odd percent of my customer base that I had acquired have actually interacted with the Facebook ad that will shift now because Facebook is saturated but I would say that digital – digital is probably only about 30 to 40% of my expenditure but it would be 90% of our time is spent in delivering against that channel because whilst I don’t spend as much, it’s the cost per acquisition is lower so we get better gains out of it and get a better return out of it so we put our effort into the channel that is efficiently providing our students.

So, advice that I would give to another organization that might be considering using Social Garden is you really need to consider what you’re looking for. So if you are looking for a supplier who will just execute what you think is the right strategy you’ll only get a certain amount of value out of any supplier relationship. I think if you are wanting to work with an organization that will help you to achieve your outcomes and you might even need to do a little bit of homework yourself if you’re not really that au fait with digital to help Social Garden to understand kind of really how they can add value but once you – once you’re all on the same page I think it’s a great organization to work with, powerful, effective, fun. They’re very responsive and they are actually committed to driving the numbers. So they’re not all fluffy and engagement and know it’s all lovely and let’s write some content like that’s a – that’s an important component part of the overall integrated mix but they understand that ultimately you will be expecting as I do an outcome and a measurable outcome.

No, I wouldn’t recommend Social Garden to my peers because my peers are my competitors and therefore, I wish they would go away and find some terrible organization that’s going to waste their money. Yes, of course, I would recommend Social Garden to people in the market. I don’t want to say my peers because they’re my competitors.

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