How Agile Project Management and Automation Helped Laureate International Universities Increase Prospective Student Enrollment

Laureate Education, Inc. is the largest global network of degree-granting higher education institutions, with more than one million students enrolled across nearly 70 institutions in 23 countries at campuses and online.

As an educational institution, Laureate needs to connect with their prospective students and guide them through the application process based upon the prospective student’s desired degree program. In order to quickly obtain the information needed to assist the prospective student, Laureate adopted an agile approach to traditional IT development. Laureate uses Workato for several key functions across their MarTech stack in order to:

  • Ensure quality data with no errors or duplicates using Marketo-Salesforce integration
  • Carry out complex integrations between Salesforce, Marketo, and NeuStar for functionality such as lead scoring and triage, with scalability in mind
  • Enable bi-directional, mobile marketing by executing automated SMS messages from Twilio and creating a feedback look from Twilio to Marketo
  • Drastically reduce the time needed to deploy key data integrations
  • Democratize the creation of integrations and automations

Laureate uses Workato for several key functions across their MarTech stack.

Using Marketo-Salesforce Integration to Effectively Track Leads

Laureate relies on two key hub apps as the basis of most of their workflows. “Salesforce and Marketo are the nucleus of Laureate’s marketing and sales teams,” says Jay Sturgis, founder of Sturgis Consulting, the consulting firm that helped Laureate address its integration needs.

For optimal efficiency, lead information from Marketo must be synced to Salesforce in real time. “Our focus is between Marketo and Salesforce,” he says. To connect the two apps, Sturgis recommended Workato because of its ability to run real-time, highly customizable syncs.

Dealing with Complex Salesforce Data

Because Laureate is a multi-brand organization, they needed a highly customizable Marketo-Salesforce integration. “The native connector between Marketo and Salesforce works really well for standard architectures,” comments Sturgis, “but Laureate’s data architecture on the Salesforce side is very complex. They’re really multi-brand, so they had to augment the native connector in order to address information on “many side” objects in Salesforce. ” Without coming up with an augmented integration solution, Laureate would have had to lean heavily on custom APEX coding in Salesforce to “flatten” data to resolve these complexities in order to leverage the native Marketo connector.

On an ad hoc basis, custom APEX coding would not have been a big problem. But as Laureate scaled, it became inefficient to deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis.  “There were multiple brands in their Salesforce environment, and it started to be a little bit unwieldy in terms of APEX code in Salesforce,” says Sturgis. “They were flattening a lot of data out on the lead record in Salesforce so that it would easily sync over to Marketo with the native connector. They needed to use that data for personalization—without having a lot of custom objects and email scripting and so on.”

Flattening data is less than ideal because it can slow down the process of updating and syncing data between apps. “Laureate would have needed a lot of APEX code in order to manage all of this data for syncing. Due to all of this technical overhead, there was a risk that data would not be synced at the proper times, and would have adverse impacts on sales and marketing processes.” Sturgis explains. Because flattening data is less than ideal, he says, Laureate will deploy Workato’s Salesforce connector as a solution. “It’s on the roadmap for us to use Workato to eliminate the need to flatten all these fields out on the Salesforce side.”

Ensuring Good Data Quality and Preventing Duplicates

 Laureate uses Workato for several key functions across their MarTech stack.

Workato has also enabled Laureate to implement de-duplication logic to prevent bad data. Sturgis explains: “We set up a process that identifies contacts syncing over from Salesforce to Marketo and quickly checks Marketo to see if that person already exists. If so, we merge the two records.”

Integrated MarTech: Enhanced Lead Scoring with Marketo and NeuStar

In order to effectively engage with prospective students, Laureate needed a way to easily score and triage those leads. To do so, they use a variety of specialized apps.

Sturgis explains: “For example, they use NeuStar, which is a company that allows us to score for enrollment in retention scoring. Laureate can then understand that a lead is saying they’re interested in—such as a Master’s in Education.”

NeuStar uses a proprietary scoring system to assess a lead’s information and the program they’re interested in and to calculate things like the likelihood that they will actually enroll and the likelihood that they will remain enrolled throughout their degree.

Laureate uses Workato for Marketo-Salesforce integration.

NeuStar also plays a key role in validating and massaging a lead’s information before it is synced from Marketo to Salesforce. “We call out to NeuStar through Workato to understand the validity of the lead’s address and email, the association of the email to a company if that’s the case, and the address validation as well,” Sturgis comments. “We also do a lot of look-ups in Salesforce, which is Laureate’s system of record, for data standardization for things like program and degree information. Overall, when leads land in Marketo, there are a lot of real-time calls that we make out to Workato to ensure that the leads are properly prepared for a sync over to Salesforce and it’s done as fast as possible.”

Being able to qualify leads quickly is a fundamental aspect of Laureate’s outreach. “It’s very important for Laureate to get that information as fast as possible, so we can qualify the lead and eventually sync it over to the Salesforce,” he says. “Speed of outreach is very important in this industry, so we want to get the lead over to the enrollment advisor ASAP if it’s qualified.”

Integrated MarTech: Effectively Reaching Prospective Students with Integrated SMS

Laureate found that email was not as effective with certain age groups as with other demographics. To better reach them, Laureate wanted to create a great mobile marketing process using Marketo to send SMS messages to prospective students.

However, the organization couldn’t find an efficient way to transfer prospects’ SMS responses into Marketo and to parse those responses without human intervention. Without a return path for SMS messages, Laureate couldn’t use mobile marketing to increase engagement–it was a one-sided conversation.

Laureate uses Workato for Marketo-Salesforce integration.

By leveraging Workato to connect its apps, Laureate can send SMS messages to new prospects via Marketo but log replies in Twilio. Workato not only moves replies from Twilio into Marketo but also identifies the phone number a response came from, matching it with the corresponding lead in Marketo. Workato then uses text formulas and logic to change the lead status in Marketo, based on the content of the message.

Sturgis says Workato has ushered in a more creative approach to integrations and this automation served as an inspiration to make the process even better. “With tools like Workato, Laureate can think outside the box [when it comes to problem-solving],” he comments.

“For example, we deployed the Twilio solution with Workato, which allowed us to send SMS messages and get the responses into Marketo, but then we noticed that with Marketo Sales Insights in Salesforce, we could trigger those messages to be sent out straight from Salesforce. This would allow for much more personalized SMS messages coming directly from the Enrollment Advisor. The Enrollment Advisor could be in Salesforce and send out the, ‘Your classes are coming up soon,’ text message, and that is a piece of data that will trigger Marketo, which will send it out to Twilio and deliver the personalized message to the student.”

“Thanks to Workato,” he continued, “the answers or responses from the student will move from Twilio to Marketo and then go all the way back to Salesforce – which is what allows the Enrollment Advisor to message with the students from Salesforce. There’s a lot of things that open up strategically for Laureate because of these integrations.”

Workato parses an average of 100-300 text message responses per day for Laureate–demonstrating an amazing response to Laureate’s mobile marketing campaign and the automated interpretation of the SMS response to update the lead status. Not only does the integration save hours of manual work, but it’s resulted in a massive increase in lead qualification!

Reducing Deployment Time for Integrations

In addition to streamlining Laureate’s lead outreach, qualification, and follow-up processes, Workato has also made the process of building integrations more straightforward.

“The time it takes to deploy a lot of really key data integrations is drastically reduced,” Sturgis comments. “With Workato, [we] can get there requirement  and have the solution for them for our next agile release date That is probably the biggest impact of Workato: it reduces the time it takes to deploy something.”

Additionally, Workato’s agile yet powerful platform is empowering more users across the organization to build integrations. “Workato’s great because more people can use it,” says Sturgis. “[Laureate employees] absolutely have the skills and resources to be able to create recipes themselves.  Enabling more users is something we are working on today.”

Ultimately, Workato has been crucial to empowering the organization to craft agile workflows without a lot of technical expertise. “[Among integration platforms], Workato stands out because it allows somebody like me—who has a little bit of technical knowledge but who interfaces well with the business requirements—to take those business requirements and easily apply them to an actual technical process without needing to code anything,” Sturgis says. “Workato gives [people like me] the ability to create something very complicated without needing to know a detailed level of code!”

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