An impressive number of 6,932,074 students enrolled in at least one online course in 2020 alone, according to the latest Distance Education Research report. Universities and marketers are rapidly discovering that online courses can be an effective way to attract a diverse range of student demographics, from students living at home for the late spring to adults seeking a graduate degree.  

Today’s methods for increasing student enrolment revolve around e-commerce optimization and marketing techniques. Take a cue from Walden University, one of the largest online universities in Minneapolis, MN, US, who effectively increased self-service registration by 100% and experienced double-digit growth. If you’re curious about how to boost enrollment and provide a better online learning experience at your educational institution, keep reading!

Let’s explore in greater depth starting with a video from Wendy Lin, Sr.Director Product Management, Walden University

 

Building a strategic model designed for student success 

Innovation keeps on advancing at a confounding speed, which is significantly altering education in more ways than one. From a value-based point of view, digital technologies have paved the way for highly scalable online education models breaking the “iron triangle” of cost, quality, and accessibility. For sure, these models enable universities to rapidly and cost-effectively extend access to high-quality technology, which improves enrollment and encourages retention.  

“We first selected the platform, but we didn’t know much going in, later what we learnt is, it is so important to have an implementation partner that truly can be your partner in every step of the way and that’s what Aspire team has done for us” – Wendy Lin, Sr.Director Product Management, Walden University.  

As part of their continuous learning program, Walden University understood the need for their students to enrol in courses that kept their skills up to date and enable continuous learning. They wanted to offer this most conveniently, by allowing students to enrol online and choose the payment platform of their choice. 

Their existing system required students to fill out their information to register themselves and wait for a phone call from an enrolment specialist who would then manually handle the admission process. While the university was able to log a good amount of traffic on their website, they recognized the opportunity to make the most of this traffic by allowing students to complete the process of registration for courses on their own online. This required an upgrade on their existing Salesforce commerce cloud implementation in terms of maximising features, enhancing the UX, and the necessary integration with multiple payment platforms. 

Aspire Systems- a B2C Commerce Specialist offers best in class solutions for Walden University’s SFRA Implementation 

“I think the process really worked well and especially when it comes to the team trying to solve the issue that the business team has defined as its top priority and your team just worked really well. They incorporated with our daily process seamlessly and collaborated with our internal team to solve for those features, write the story and get them executed. Since mid-2020 I would say your team has delivered a significant amount of stories. The productivity is definitely up and that’s really a showcase of how great the collaboration has been with your team!” – Wendy Lin, Sr. Director Product Management, Walden University. 

As the collaboration between Aspire Systems and Salesforce Commerce Cloud began, we realized that they had made use of only 20-30% of the available Out of the Box features. Aspire saw the opportunity to maximise this and thereby bring in greater flexibility, extendibility, scalability and better extensions to their website. The team upgraded their existing SFCC implementation to SFRA and took advantage of the Page Designer feature to enhance their UX, thereby transforming their e-commerce site into an engaging and visually stunning experience. 

Aspire Systems also found an agile and scalable integration solution that could systematize the student admission process and provide a 360-degree view of their constituents, as well as offer insights into their internal practices and operations. With complete backend autonomy, the business unit can now manage online services while offering students an intuitive, excellent user experience. Aspire systems also helped redesign the purchase experience to align with the new vision for their self-checkout admission process by integrating courses from other e-learning websites as well.  

Engage & Enroll  

 “With the ecommerce site, the team was able to build our 100% self-service registration process and payment process. And that enabled us to reach an audience that we were probably not able to reach before. We have delivered double-digit growth since we have the site in 2020 and that is something that we are very proud of.” – Wendy Lin, Sr. Director Product Management, Walden University. 

With double the site traffic and leads since these enhancements, powered by a streamlined enrolment and admission process, Walden University now possesses a competitive advantage over other universities. Walden University offers students a range of payment options such as PayPal Checkout, PayPal Subscribe, and Free Purchase. Not only does it create a personalized e-learning experience and offer multiple payment gateways, but it also offers prospective students’ information about their courses using SEO recommendations and enables the business units to grow sales and improve student engagement.  

Act now! 

Universities must evolve to this albeit rapidly changing education model. At the same time, the intensely fierce competition they face in an increasingly technology-driven market is also fueling the need to bring their universities online to compete. ”So to be able to have all the information at your fingertips, you don’t have to talk to an enrollment specialist and you can enrol anytime you want, not limited to the phone call. So I think that just enables us to compete in the environment that we were not able to before.” – Wendy 

Abishek Balakumar